Just the Right Time for Diamond Packaging

by Brittany Willes, editor, PostPress
Diamond Packaging’s grandfather clock calendar won Best of Show in the 23rd Annual FSEA Gold Leaf Awards competition.

Few people are unfamiliar with the structure of the grandfather clock. The name alone typically conjures images of an old-fashioned, yet regal, piece of furniture. Perhaps it is a memory of a highly-polished clock standing proudly in the home of an older relative. The imagined clock is most likely tall, made from elaborately carved wood with glass panels for viewing the heavy pendulum drifting lazily from side to side. Most people will even hear the tell-tale gong as the clock announces the hour. For Diamond Packaging, the grandfather clock no longer is just an hourly timekeeper. The Rochester, New York-based packaging supplier has created an ornate, three-month corporate calendar set within the long-case body of an old-fashioned grandfather clock.

Diamond, founded in 1911, is a global industry leader which specializes in developing innovative and sustainable packaging solutions. Diamond engineers use state-of-the-art technology to design and manufacture paperboard and plastic folding cartons, countertop displays, blister cards and sample packaging. Every year, Diamond creates a corporate calendar to be sent to the company’s customers and suppliers, showcasing Diamond’s creative abilities. In fact, 2016 marks the 25th anniversary of the popular promotional piece. As such, the Diamond team knew it needed to come up with a particularly special design to combine a sense of tradition along with the capabilities of modern special effects technologies.

Diamond engineers began planning for the 2016 calendar as early as January 2015. Several themes were discussed and mock-ups laid out within a few months; however, it was clear that the chosen design would need to meet several distinct objectives set forth by the design team. First, the team wanted a piece that would showcase several of the company’s creative design abilities. Next, it sought to highlight decorative effects, specifically cold foiling, its customers’ could consider in future projects for their own brands. Finally, Diamond was determined to create a colorful, beautifully decorated structural and ornamental piece that users would want to have near their desks. In the end, team members decided on the highly decorative grandfather clock design as meeting all of these objectives.

From head to base, the designers labored to simulate the unique visual character of a long-case grandfather clock, complete with carved ridges along the sides, raised panels framing the clock face and woodgrain swirls for a feel of old-time elegance. The dimensional header features a multi-level embossed and debossed woodgrain pattern and a striking clock face insert enhanced with UV gloss spot coating, cold foil and multi-level embossing, creating a dramatic sense of texture and depth. Just above the clock face, the words “Diamond Packaging” create a half-moon arch, beneath which sits a combination of world maps and constellation illustrations set against a dark blue background.

The debossed 2016 date flows unobtrusively across the header, slightly darker than the surrounding wood to give the appearance of having been carved into the clock. The header also incorporates a short length of black ribbon which serves as a door pull, allowing users to open the rigid window panel and further simulating a real grandfather clock. Inside the window panel, the gold foiling used for the numbers and decorative embellishments of the clock face complement the subtle hues of brown and black in the wood frame.

Within the body of the clock are the three calendars showing the current, previous and coming months. Concealed behind the calendar pages, a heavy golden pendulum patiently waits for the clock hands, poised at approximately a quarter till six, to strike the hour. The middle backers also feature a multi-level embossed woodgrain pattern. Framing the pendulum, a backdrop of three unique sets of foil embossed gears and cogs, enhanced with UV gloss spot coating, further simulate the appearance of a true-to-life grandfather clock.

“The grandfather clock theme, with its perfectly balanced inner mechanisms, was chosen to represent the collaborative and precise nature of Diamond’s work,” stated Dennis Bacchetta, director of marketing. In the spirt of Diamond’s design objectives, the calendar features multi-color UV printing, UV gloss spot coating, cold foiling, multi-level embossing, debossing and intricate diecutting. Decorative foil accents were created using Diamond’s state-of-the-art cold foiling technology to achieve inline metallic and holographic effects that also are cost-effective. “An overwhelming majority of our customers and suppliers prefer the three-calendar view design format. As a calendar, it can be enjoyed by users all year long, continually reinforcing our brand,” Bacchetta said. “As a capabilities piece, it can be used longer than one year, which increases its shelf life.”

Planned, designed and produced by the entire Diamond team, the clock went through several versions before the final design was selected. Design Engineer Renee Guercio was responsible for creating both the graphic and structural designs, producing a number of mock-ups from which the team could choose. The graphics themselves were comprised of actual images of grandfather clock components and enhanced with additional flourishes to add authenticity and flair to the final design.

The production process was nearly as elaborate as the calendar itself, with Diamond Packaging reaching out to several key suppliers. For instance, when it came to the different substrates needed for the project, Clearwater Papers provided its Clearwater Candesce® .018 SBS paperboard for the header, insert and backers, which then were offset printed with 4-color process inks, UV matte coating and UV gloss spot coating. Clearwater also provided its Candesce® 010 SBS paperboard for the shipper. “Clearwater’s Candesce® 010 SBS paperboard was chosen due to its performance characteristics and the fact that it is 100-percent recyclable and made from a renewable resource,” explained Bacchetta. Jamestown Container provided corrugated case shippers for the completed calendar.

The calendar pages were converted using Domtar Cougar Natural Smooth 80# and offset printed with one color (black). Finally, Klöckner-Pentaplast .015 APET paperboard was chosen to form the rigid window. All of the inks for the 4-color process were provided by the Huber Group, and offset printing was performed on a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 offset press (with Compact Foilers’ cold foil unit).

To complete the embossing, Diamond consulted with Metal Magic, which provided all of the embossing dies after reviewing the graphic and structural design layouts with the production team. “A collaborative effort between Metal Magic’s designers and Diamond’s lead embossing operator, Bill Poniatoski, led to suggestions on optimizing the embossing dies to add realism to the overall clock design,” Bacchetta stated. Diamond manufactured the cutting dies in-house. The embossing was done using a Bobst BMA hot foil stamper/embosser, while the diecutting was performed on a Bobst ExpertCut 106 PER diecutter.

Just as impressive and elaborate as the embossing is the use of cold foiling for the clock face and accent gears, all of which was completed inline utilizing Compact Foilers’ CF1000PM cold foil module, which is mounted on the Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 105 offset press. ITW provided the CFS 100 silver cold foil, which was overprinted with 4-color process inks. According to Bacchetta, “The tightly-registered foil accents lend authenticity to the piece and were achieved using state-of-the-art, inline cold foiling technology. They also showcase the type of decorative effects that can cost-effectively elevate our customers’ brands.”

Engineers at the Rochester, New York-based packaging supplier began planning for the 2016 calendar as early as January 2015.

Unsurprisingly, such an intricate project was not without its challenges. For example, when it came to constructing the header, engineers considered multiple approaches on how best to add dimension to the design. They opted to use a folding carton for the header in order to achieve both dimension and space for the insert. The design team also wondered at the best way to recreate a clock face. “For the clock face, we decided to use a separate printed, stamped and embossed insert,” Bacchetta said. “The insert then was erected and placed within the folding carton.” In order to create a functioning clock door, a scored panel was designed in the header with an APET window glued to the doorfame.

Challenges arose in the production process as well, such as maintaining consistent color among all four of the components (header, insert, backers), all of which were on separate forms. “Tight color control was maintained by using closed-loop scanning spectrophotometry,” explained Bacchetta. Furthermore, the calendar design also required extremely tight registration of the UV gloss spot coating, cold foil and multi-level embossed areas. “We also strove to incorporate all of the value-added processes in as few production steps as possible,” he said. To do so, Diamond optimized the structural design and layout of the calendar, which reduced the number of forms and press passes and helped to conserve raw materials and energy, reduce greenhouse gases and minimize discards. “We achieved production efficiencies through the use of more sustainable inline converting methods,” said Bacchetta, “including cold foiling. This resulted in less material and energy usage compared to an offline foil stamping process.”

In the end, Diamond Packaging produced 2,500 finished calendars, with this year’s design becoming one of its most popular ever. As Bacchetta noted, dozens of recipients requested additional calendars after seeing the finished piece. They also reached out to Diamond to share their awe and appreciation, offering such compliments as, “I received a BEAUTIFUL calendar from your group and wanted to send my thanks and my compliments. It’s absolutely beautiful. Great job!” and “Thank you so much for the clock calendar!! Just received it today. It is the coolest calendar I’ve ever seen. Really shows the awesome work you guys can do!”

In addition to customers’ praise, Diamond’s calendar has received numerous awards and accolades. The grandfather clock design received both Gold Calendar and Bronze Self Promotion – Display awards during the Foil & Specialty Effects Association’s 23rd annual FSEA Gold Leaf Awards competition this year. The popular calendar also won the coveted Best of Show Award. The Best of Show is selected from all of the gold winners in each category and judged by a panel of industry peers and suppliers.

23rd Annual FSEA Gold Leaf Awards

More than 300 entries were received from around the world, including works from the US, Canada, Australia, Finland, India and Denmark, for the 23rd Annual FSEA Gold Leaf Awards Competition. See a gallery of winners »