Metall Ink Project

ECKART metallic inks are a sustainable alternative

At ECKART, we like to take on new challenges. Especially when it comes to combining sustainability, cost-effectiveness and high product quality. In the so-called Metall Ink Project, we cooperated with international partners to prove that metallic effects produced with our printing inks are more sustainable than those produced with traditional processes. They are also cost-effective. Last but not least: The aesthetic and haptic quality of printed metallic effects is in no way inferior to those achieved with hot foil stamping. The further processability, for example embossing or scratch resistance, is also absolutely convincing.

"Our Metall Ink Project shows that metallic finishes can be excellently achieved by printing. They reduce the carbon footprint for decorative applications. As a result, brand owners no longer need to rely on suppliers who offer specialized technologies such as hot foil stamping to produce premium packaging. They can commission their usual printing partners. This will significantly expand the market for decorative metallic applications."

Christoph Sontheimer
Global Head Business Development ECKART

The demands of premium products

The packaging industry is facing huge challenges. On the one hand, demands are increasing in terms of sustainability. Recyclability, carbon footprint as well as suitability for the circular economy are becoming increasingly important criteria for the product choice. On the other hand, aesthetic expectations are also skyrocketing – packaging must capture consumers' attention at the POS. And what could be a better eye-catcher than shiny or shimmering metallic effects?

But how sustainable are these effects when created with existing metallic refinements like metallized board? Or, to put it another way, are there sustainable alternatives for metallic finishings? This question was investigated by the international Metall Ink Project, in which ECKART cooperated with the Finnish paper producer Sappi and GT/Trendhouse 42, a printing specialist from Germany.

How to reduce your carbon footprint

Decorative finishes produced with metallic inks are more sustainable because foil can be dispensed with as substrate and as effect supplier. The process lowers costs, reduces the use of fossil-based materials, and ultimately lowers the carbon footprint. Metallic printing inks therefore offer a sustainable alternative – in particular for premium or luxury products. Their aesthetic and haptic quality as well as their further processability are absolutely comparable with traditional processes.

According to Lars Scheidweiler, Head of Packaging Solutions Sappi Europe the success of the cooperation was based on the know-how and the varied expertise of the three partners. "Our aim was not to show off our respective products," he says. "Rather, we wanted to create a better, more comprehensive solution. To do this, it was necessary to think well out of the box."

As a first step, the project team decided to recreate real-life conditions. With this goal in mind, it defined the markets for high-quality metallic effects. These are the perfume, cosmetics and premium beverage industries. 

To simulate the requirements as realistically as possible, GT/Trendhouse 42 developed three imaginary brands including packaging. "We paid attention to different design styles, packaging formats and structures," explains Désirée Frackowiak, Key Account Manager Marketing and Communications. "In addition, the requirements in terms of metallic effects were to be as diverse as possible."

The result is three different folding boxes for cosmetics, perfume and a piccolo bottle, all made from high-quality paperboard. For this, Sappi provided its Algro Design Nature solid bleached board with a double-coated front and uncoated reverse side, which is particularly suitable for premium packaging. It features ultimate surface consistency, silky feel and brilliant color reproduction.

All three packages were finished with gloss varnish and embossing. Regarding further effects, the three boxes differed significantly. To this end, ECKART provided a number of high-quality metal effects like ULTRASTAR UV LED FP-8320 SILVER, LUXAN D001 and LUXAN D393.

As a further visual highlight, the packaging for the piccolo bottle was given a matt finish with shiny silver pearlescent pigments. The perfume packaging was characterized by a special haptic effect, which was achieved using a sand varnish in addition to the matt varnish. 

By far the most spectacular box is the cosmetics packaging. It is modeled on an architectural icon of the Middle East, the circular HQ building in Abu Dhabi. The 190 mm high slip-on box offers room for three skin care products placed on an inlet. The double-walled design helps to hold the weight of the products. The finishing touch is created by a kind of oval dome that has been placed over the box like a “cloche”, reminiscent of a cosmetic mirror. The packaging was refined with gold pearlescent pigments.

See for yourself – at one of our webinars

All three packages will be on display at international trade fairs, e.g. the Packaging Premiere at the PCD Paris, France, June 29-30, 2022. Together with our partners, ECKART also offers three Metal Ink webinars free of charge, featuring the three packages. There, we will discuss best practices on the topic of metallic effects with printing inks.

About GT/Trendhouse 42

The GT/Trendhouse 42 printing and finishing company, headquartered in Gelsenkirchen, specialises in print projects that showcase a product or brand to its most impressive advantage. In addition to transfer finishing, varnishing and embossing papers, the company also supplies bookbinding technology. Some 70 employees currently work at locations in Gelsenkirchen and Alsdorf near Aachen.


Unlocking the power of trees to make every day more sustainable. Sappi is a leading global provider of sustainable wood fibre products and solutions. In the field of packaging and special papers we offer a broad and innovative portfolio of premium virgin-fibre substrates. With years of experience, we supply some of the most renowned and valued brands for their high-finish premium packaging. In cosmetics, perfume, health- and beauty care, confectionery, luxury drinks, fashion, food and more.

If you want to learn more about the Metall Ink project, please contact us.



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