Packaging Vocabulary



Abrasion: Scuffing or wearing of a part against its package or vice versa. Scuffing of a package against external surfaces. The damage caused by friction such as rubbing, scuffing or scratching.

Adhesive: A substance, such as glue, used to laminate two structures together.

Aluminum Alloy: Aluminum alloys with a wide range of properties are used in engineering structures. Alloy systems are classified by a number system (ANSI) or by names indicating their main alloying constituents (DIN and ISO). Selecting the right alloy for a given application entails considerations of strength, ductility, formability, workability, weldability and corrosion resistance to name a few.

Anilox Roll: An engraved ink metering roll used in flexographic presses to provide a controlled film of ink to the printing plate.

ASTM: American Society for Testing Materials


Barrier Coatings: Is a covering that is applied to the surface of an object, usually referred to as the substrate. In many cases coatings are applied to improve surface properties of the substrate, such as appearance, adhesion, wetability, corrosion resistance, wear resistance, and scratch resistance. In other cases, in particular in printing processes, the coating forms an essential part of the finished product.

Blade Line: Where the doctor blade on a rotogravure press develops an imperfection causing a line or streak in the print on the piece at this imperfection.

Bleed: Where the printing on a piece goes all the way to the edge of the paper – accomplished by printing beyond the margins of the piece and then trimming to the margin.

Blister: A small raised area, caused by the expansion of trapped gas or other fluid beneath the metal surface. In a lamination, small localized areas free or freed from adhesion.

Blocking: The undesired adhesion of two or more plies of material to the extent that surfaces become damaged or distorted, or the inks or coatings transfer from one surface to the other when adjacent layers are separated.

Bond Strength: A measure of strength of a bond between two adhesives.

Bug: A mark printed in an inconspicuous location on a package to identify who the printer of the package is. (ie: the Catty Corporation bug).


Coating and printing processes: Involve the application of a thin film of functional material to a substrate, such as paper, fabric, film, foil or sheet stock.

Coefficient of Friction (C.O.F.): The amount of slip exhibited when one surface is dragged against an adjacent surface. Static COF is the force required to begin the structure moving. Kinetic COF is the force required to maintain structure movement at the test pull speed. High Slip = less than 0.2, Medium Slip – .2-.5, Low Slip = more than 0.5 (kinetic).

Cold Seal: A dry adhesive applied to a substrate such as foil, paper and film, that when folded onto itself can provide an adhesive bond using only pressure without using heat. Cold seals are typically used in wrapping food products such as ice cream bars.

Color Fastness: The measurement of the permanence of a color in its resistance to sunlight and various chemicals as may be expressed.

Color Key Proof: Also chromalin – a proof, which shows the approximate, expected result of a four-color printing, provided by the color separator or printer.

Color Correction: A system of using a spectrophotometer to measure the chroma intensity and mathematically indicate the correction that is necessary to bring the color to an approved standard.

Color Separation: The translation of an original photograph or other artwork into separate plates for four-color printing.

Converting: The process of converting sheets or rolls of product such as paper, film, and foil to a finished product.

Core: Tube on which coiled product is wound; usually made of fiber, plastic, aluminum, steel or carton.

Curl: An undesirable condition caused by uneven rates of absorption or evaporation of moisture, uneven rates of contraction or expansion, or internal stresses in the material. Curl is the most prevalent in laminated structures where the components have differing physical properties.


Dead –Fold: A characteristic that can be folded, molded, crimped, and formed with ease. A thick layer of adhesive may act as a “hinge” to permit stiff foil-laminated stock to retain good dead-fold. In this case, the adhesive material itself must have good dead- fold and its effectiveness depends upon its thickness.

Destruct Bond: A strong bond of two materials where if one attempts to pull the two apart a destruction of one of the materials will occur. The bonding agent is stronger than the materials bonded together.

Draw Down: A thin coating applied and spread by a number of instruments, hand rollers or pulling a smooth flat knife blade. Used to check such coating characteristics as shade, color strength and tones.

Dry Bond Lamination: A process of laminating 2 or more substrates together such as paper, film, and foils using 100% solids adhesive lamination.

Dwell Time: The time usually expression in seconds at a given temperature required for the application of heat to seal a heat sealing membrane.


Elmendorf Test: Measurement of tearing resistance by means of a device that tears standard samples and records the required energy. Papers must be tested both along and across the grain and specimens should be conditioned at a certain temperature and humidity prior to testing.

Elongation: The linear stretch of material during tensile loading.

Extrusion: A product formed by pushing material through a die.


FIFO (First In First Out): Method used to ensure that the oldest raw material or finished good is used first to help ensure quality.

Finished Goods: A manufacturing classification of inventory when good product has gone through the final manufacturing process and is ready for sale to customers.

Flexibility: The property of a material, which will permit its being bent or twisted without breaking, the state of being non-rigid.

Flexographic Printing: An economical printing method, mostly done on web-fed equipment, in which a rubber roll, partially immersed in an ink fountain, transfers ink to a fine-screened steel roller carrying the design to be printed, which in turn deposits a thin layer of ink on the printing plate. The print pattern is raised and the non-print area is lower. The ink is applied to the raised area of the rubber plate, and then transfers to the material to be printed in the desired pattern. Flexographic printing produces remarkably sharp reproductions of multicolor work, including lettering in small type sizes.

Foil: A rolled aluminum product.


Gauge: A term used in referring to the thickness. Here are some examples and equivalents:
1 mil = 1/1000 of an inch = .001”
1 mil = 25.4 microns
1 micron = one millionth of a meter
1 inch = 25.4 mm = 2.54 cm
100 gauge = 1 mil
80 gauge = 8/10 mil = .0008 inches

Glue Lamination: A process of using either a water-based or solvent-based glue applied to a substrate such as paper, film, or foil to laminate 2 or more substrates together.

Gravure Printing: Gravure printing is ideal for printing in long runs. It is a web fed process, which contributes to higher printing speeds, Gravure cylinders (a steel base with a copper coating, is then engraved with the desired pattern, then coated after engraving with a chrome plating for durability in the printing process) are engraved and can give an extremely light to a heavy lay of ink, gives excellent reproduction of detail, which is very important in total legibility and overall appeal of a print job. The image to be printed lies below the surface of the cylinder. When the inked surface of the roll is wiped clean with a doctor blade, the ink remaining in the engraved depression (cells) the material runs over the cylinder the ink is then deposited on that material in the pattern engraved.


Half Tone: A plate or cylinder or printed piece or process involving the shooting of artwork through a lined screen, which breaks up the art into a dot pattern.

Heat Seal Coating: A coating on a material, which allows that material to be laminated to a second material with a surface that when heat is applied the two materials will bond together. The bond strength is such that the materials will be destructed if one tries to peel apart the two. Also called a “destruct bond”.

Hickies: Marks on printed material caused by dirt or foreign material during the printing process.

Hot Tack: The ability of a freshly made seal to resist puckering, or separating when stressed.


ITR: In The Round polymer. –Used in Flexographic printing, when graphic design is needed to be continuous, and cannot utilize a plate break. Also known as Seamless.


Kaizen: Japanese term used frequently when describing Lean Manufacturing which translates to “change”. A term that is often referred to as a Kaizen Event meaning a team working together to produce change in a process that would yield savings.

Keyline: Also called mechanical. This is the guide used in making plates or engraving cylinders, and printing a piece – a diagram of copy and art for reproduction.


Lamination: Composite product consisting of two or more sheets or films joined together, with glue, adhesive, wax, etc.

Layout: A rendering of a proposed printed piece, indicating positions for headings, copy, art and borders. May also indicate color treatments.

Line Print: Solid black line artwork, which does not require half-tone reproduction.


Master Roll: Also known as mother reel. A finished roll that comes off the press.

Matte Finish Foil: Foil having a diffuse reflecting finish or satin-like appearance.

Melting Point: The temperature at which a solid compound goes to the liquid state.

Metric Conversions: 
1 kilogram (kg) = 2.2046 pounds 1 meter = 39.37 inches = 1.0936 yards
1 pound = 0.4536 kilograms 1 mile = 1.6094 kilometers
1 short ton = 2000 pounds 1 yard = 0.9144 meter
1 kilometer = 0.6237 miles
1 mil = 1/1000 of an inch = .001
1 mil = 25.4 microns
1 micron = one millionth of a meter
1 inch = 25.4 mm = 2.54 cm
100 gauge = 1 mil
80 gauge = 8/10 mil = .0008 inches

MVTR: Moisture Vapor Transmission Rate Water Vapor Transmission Rate, (also known as WVTR water vapor transmission rate), which moisture vapor can permeate through the structure and into a dry atmosphere on the other side. It is recorded in units of gm/100 inches square/24 hour (g/m2/24hr). WVTR is dependant on the gauge of the structure, the materials used in the structure, and the quality of the materials used. Vapor can pass through channels in the seals, holes, tears, or imperfections in the package.


OTR: Oxygen Transmission Rate, is defined as the constant rate at which oxygen permeates through a film at specified conditions of temperature and relative humidity. Values are expressed in cc/m2/24hr (SI units). Standard conditions are 230C and 0%RH.


Peel Seal Coating: Similar to heat-seal coating except that the bond will allow the two materials to be peeled apart.

Pinholes: Minute holes in foil. Foil below .0015 inches, it is possible to have minute discontinuities or “pinholes”. When aluminum foil of half the above thickness, or .0005 inch is tested nearly every one-foot-square test piece contains so-called “pinholes”. Reducing the foil below .0005 inch gauge results in an increased number of “pinholes” per square foot and the discontinuities are usually somewhat larger. Embossing or creasing of the foil will naturally increase the WVTR of the foil, but only at the points which have been embossed or creased sufficiently to generate breaks in the foil.

PMS (Pantone Matching System): Standard, numbered shades and colors and may be selected when a specific background or accent color is desired. The Pantone Matching System is an international printing, publishing and packaging color language providing an accurate method for the selection, presentation, specification, communication, reproduction, matching and control of color.

Process Print: Also four-color process – Indicates the four-color plates or cylinders commonly used in color printing. Usually of photographic quality.


Ramp up Procedures: Runs of less then full production quantity to verify that new products or process meet or exceed the expectant or desired results also know as a Trial.

Raw Materials: A manufacturing classification of inventory before the material is put into the manufacturing process and when components are in their “raw” state.

Reverse Printing: 1.) Printing an image on the back of a transparent material so that when viewed from the front the image is correct. 2.) Laying down a printed background on an opaque surface, leaving certain design areas open.

Rotogravure Print: Also known as Roto or Gravure. This is a type of intaglio printing process which involves engraving the image onto an image carrier. Like Offset and Flexography, it uses a rotary printing press and this is why the image is engraved onto a cooper cylinder. Tha vast majority of gravure presses prints on rolls (also known as webs) of paper, rather than sheets of paper. (Sheetfed gravure is a small, specialty market.) Rotary gravure presses are the fastest and widest presses in operation, printing everything from narrow labels to 12 feet (4m) – wide rolls of vinyl flooring. Additional operations may be in-line.


Safety Stock: An extra amount of either raw materials or finished goods carried in inventory to protect against late deliveries or inaccurate forecasts.

Seal Strength: Measurement of force required to break or destroy a heat seal formed by any of the heat sealing sheets.

Sheeting: The cutting of a large master roll into sheets.

Slip: Term used to describe the amount of COF (coefficient of friction) on the surface of a substrate such as paper, film, or foil. The slip affects the ability of the web to process through application equipment.

Slitting: The cutting of a large master roll into small rolls used.

Solvent Based Ink: An ink system that uses a solvent (petroleum-based product) as its vehicle to contain pigment, resin, and other components.

Spectrophotometer: A device that measures color using a spectral reflectance and data set. It generates values to describe color quantitatively.

Supported Structure: A construction that has been laminated; such as foil laminated to paper.


Tear Strength: A measure of how likely a substrate will continue to tear once started. Tear strength will differ with and against the grain (in the case of paper).

Telescoping: Transverse slipping of successive layers of a coil so that the edge of the foil is conical rather than flat.

Tensile Strength: Measurement of weight required to break a strip of paper or paperboard in kilograms. Measurement is in pounds per square inch for metal.

Tolerance: Allowable deviation from a nominal or specified dimension.

Trap: To compensate for registration variation, two adjacent colors must spread or overlap, usually the lighter color will overlap into the darker color.


UOM: Unit of measure.

Unsupported Foil: Foil with no backing (paper or otherwise).


Value Stream: The series of steps required to bring a product or service to the customer.

Viscosity: The property of material to resist flow. The higher the viscosity generally the thicker or slower a material flows.


Water-Based Ink: An ink system which uses water as the majority medium to combine all components. Typically water based ink systems can contain as much as 5% solvent and still be considered water-based.

Wax Lamination: A process of using a hot wax to laminate two substrates together (such as foil and paper). Wax lamination typically is used when a “dead fold” is highly desirable (i.e. when a crisp square corner is desired on a package).

Web Press: A printing press which has a rotary action, and uses large rolls of paper, foil, and/or poly.

Wet Bond Lamination: A process of laminating 2 or more substrates by using an adhesive that is liquid at the time of nip point. Wet bond lamination is only used when the adhesive can be dried through at least 1 of the substrates (such as paper).

WVTR: Water Vapor Transmission Rate, (also known as MVTR moisture vapor transmission rate). See definition under MVTR.

Work-in-Process (WIP): Items between machines waiting to be processed.


X-Rite: Color correction system utilizing a spectrophotometer to measure the variation in chroma intensity.


Yield: The square inches per one pound of a material. For example, if one pound of material has 41,000 square inches, then 100 pounds of the same material will have 4,100,000 square inches. Formulas:

Total square inches = pounds

Total square inches = yield

Pounds x Yield = Total square inches