By Cassandra Balentine
Presentation is critical when it comes to packaging applications. In addition to appealing shapes and colors, packaging stands out on the shelves through versioning and special effects.
For the creation of packaging applications, digital print comes into the picture in several ways. For one, startups can afford to go to market with custom packaging in small runs. Seasoned brand owners can test new markets and designs with smaller volumes and custom effects.
Phase 1 Prototypes, LLC is a mock-up and prototype packaging company that sets out to combine innovative technology, proprietary substrate development, and printing solutions to offer its clients unique packaging options. These solutions serve a variety of uses, including proof of concept, retail line review, sales samples, design review, color proofing, and trade show and event displays.
Established in 2006, Phase 1 Prototypes currently operates an office in Dallas, TX, near Las Colinas in an office space that spans about 15,000 square feet. The business works with an efficient staff of approximately 15.
The company offers prototypes including flexible and corrugated samples/displays that range from one to 1,000 in quantity. It can produce all shapes and sizes of custom product packaging prototypes. Solutions include stand-up pouches, shrink sleeves, point of purchase displays and shippers, labels, wrappers, boxes, and bags. In addition to the ability to offer all of these options in runs as low as one, Phase 1 Prototypes offers white and metallic ink as well as effects like embossed text, spot varnishing, and raised edges on packaging products.
“Anything you would see in a grocery store in terms of packaging falls within our capabilities. Foils, embosses, and varnishes are all included in our wheelhouse,” says Kristin Lanoue-Benna, co-owner, Phase 1 Prototypes.
The company treats each job as a custom order, with a goal of utilizing its array of printing and finishing tools, as well as substrates and finishing capabilities to create a unique mock up that comes as close to a final production run as possible.
It also emphasizes its fast service, and says the average turnaround time is about three days, without longer wait times on custom products and unique features.
A Digital Foundation
As a producer of short-run packaging and prototypes, Phase 1 Prototypes has created its output digitally since opening its doors ten years ago. “There isn’t a specific print process we use across the board,” notes Lanoue-Benna. “We have a variety of digital printers ranging from wide format solvent and aqueous printers, flatbed UV printers, digital presses, and even digital foil and cutting equipment that when used in conjunction with one another, allows us to create special print recipes that fit the client’s need for that particular project,” she shares.
Lanoue-Benna suggests that it isn’t just one thing—but rather a number of factors—that set Phase 1 Prototypes apart from the competition. She says that her business partner, Bill Ramirez, is “truly a wizard behind the curtain when it comes to our print processes. He has a huge passion for this industry and never allows us to get complacent with processes and new technologies.”
She says the company is always able to remain one step ahead of the competition by researching and experimenting with various printers, materials, and systems. “By doing so, it allows our clients to stay ahead of the game with new package design and have early exposure to cutting-edge print techniques.”
In addition to this commitment to new technologies and openness to experimentation, the company also offers flexibility when it comes to timing. “We understand time is money and we know that getting our clients their products to market as quickly as possible is key. We do everything in our power to help make that happen.”
Packaging and More
The capabilities that enable Phase 1 Prototypes to produce packaging mock ups and prototypes also enables them to provide a unique spin on other applications.
Lanoue-Benna recalls a recent job for a new client. The customer wanted 100 sales kits produced. The client asked the packaging provider to take a concept sketched by them to produce a structural design. The dielines were taken by the customer who then laid out the artwork and sent the design back to them to create a proof.
The proof kit allowed the client to check color accuracy, product placement, and the overall look of the project. Once approved, the team set out to produce over 800 pieces to make up the 100 kits. This took approximately three to five days including assembly and shipping. “It was a lot of work but they had a tight timeline,” says Lanoue-Benna.
“Collectively, both teams worked together to make it work from a scheduling standpoint. The client had to add product before shipping to the final locations, so we fed them partial shipments daily to keep things moving along,” she explains about the process.
In the end, it was a “beautiful sales kit,” says Lanoue-Benna. “Something both teams were proud to unveil.”
Phase 1 Prototypes happily services its clients with unique, short-run printing and packaging prototypes. “We are always keeping our eyes open for new printing equipment, materials, and systems. Whatever we need to do to continue to bring value to our clients and help their growth is always our primary focus,” she concludes. dps
Oct2016, DPS Magazine