US 20040251158 A1
Printed packaging is provided which includes indicia printed on a packaging substrate. A barrier overlies the indicia and has a transparent window and a non-transparent section. The indicia may be viewed through the transparent window of the barrier.
1. Printed packaging comprising indicia printed on a packaging substrate; a barrier overlying the indicia, the barrier having a transparent window and a non-transparent section wherein the indicia may be viewed through the transparent window of the barrier.
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16. A method of providing printed indicia on packaging including: printing indicia on a packaging substrate; and overlying indicia with a barrier having a transparent window and a non-transparent section, whereby the barrier is placed over the indicia such that the indicia can be viewed through the transparent window on the label.
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27. An apparatus for printing on packaging comprising:
a dispensing substrate spool for supporting a roll of continuous packaging substrate;
a take-up substrate spool for taking up a web of packaging substrate dispensed from the dispensing spool;
guide means between the dispensing spool and take-up spool to guide the web therebetween;
printing means to print indicia onto the substrate; and
a label carrier and dispenser for dispensing labels onto the substrate, the labels having a transparent window and a non-transparent section, wherein the apparatus is timed by use of sensors to dispense the labels such that the transparent window overlies the printed indicia.
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 The present invention relates to indicia that is printed on packaging and a method of providing the printed indicia, typically where the indicia imparts information relating to a promotion.
 The lure of promotional competitions and give-away prizes on packaged foods and other consumables is sufficiently strong, promoters hope, to increase sales in those products. The idea is to first encourage consumers to buy the product then to confirm a prize win or loss.
 To prevent consumers confirming the prize outcome before buying the product, the information that imparts a win or loss is usually sealed inside the packaging along with the product. The information may come in the form of a loose competition card, or may be an application affixed to the inside of the packaging substrate or may be directly printed onto the packaging substrate.
 Various techniques have been developed of incorporating competition information into packaged products. The techniques vary in style and manner of delivery according to the requirements of the competition and legislative standards.
 For example, many countries have legislation or code that sets standards for food packaging. Any part of a package that comes into direct contact with food is required to be approved by the local food authority.
 In Australia and New Zealand this authority is the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ). In the United States it is the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that regulates such matters.
 Using products and processes that abide with local laws usually increases the cost of producing the overall packaging. Possibly the greatest objective for a packaging manufacturer is to keep down printing and material costs and increase through-put.
 Promotional materials also differ in nature according to promotional requirements. In ‘scratch and match’ competitions cards having panels of a scratchable material require the user to scratch away the panels to reveal competition indicia lying underneath. These cards are usually sealed in a plastic pouch.
 Alternatively, the information may simply comprise a message printed directly onto the inside of the packaging.
 With the present invention indicia is able to be printed on packaging within set parameters and in an efficient and cost effective manner.
 In one embodiment the present invention is printed packaging comprising indicia printed on a packaging substrate; a barrier overlying the indicia, the barrier having a transparent window and a non-transparent section wherein the indicia may be viewed through the transparent window of the barrier.
 The indicia is preferably printed on the inside of a packaging substrate and information imparted by the indicia may be variable.
 The barrier is preferably a plastic label membrane fixed to the packaging substrate over the indicia with adhesive. Ideally the label membrane includes a transparent window and non-transparent pre-printed information, where the pre-printed information includes competition conditions and directions for claiming a prize.
 Preferably, the barrier is tamper evident in that the ink lifts off the packaging substrate and/or the window discolours when the barrier is tampered with.
 The packaging substrate may be used for packaging food in which case the barrier material is preferably approved by local food authorities.
 The ink used to print the indicia is preferably a fast drying ink.
 The indicia is preferably randomly printed according to random coding software. In one embodiment the indicia reveal a competition result. Alternatively the indicia may reveal a code that can be deciphered by external influences to indicate a competition result.
 The packaging substrate is preferably made of plastic, paper, metal or a combination of these or other materials.
 In another embodiment the invention is a method of providing printed indicia on packaging including: printing indicia on a packaging substrate; and overlying indicia with a barrier having a transparent window and a non-transparent section, whereby the barrier is placed over the indicia such that the indicia can be viewed through the transparent window on the label.
 Preferably the method includes printing indicia on the inside of the packaging substrate and adhesively applying the barrier onto the packaging substrate over the indicia. The method is ideally performed in one pass.
 Information conveyed by the indicia may vary during printing.
 Preferably the method uses an adhesive that, when the barrier is lifted, will signify tampering of the barrier by showing discolouration of the transparent portion of the barrier that has been lifted. Furthermore, the ink used to print indicia may be of the type that will lift off the substrate if the label is lifted off the substrate.
 The method may also include pre-printing information on a non-transparent section of the barrier adjacent a transparent window on the label.
 The packaging substrate may be of food grade and the barrier selected may be approved by the local food authority.
 In yet another embodiment the invention is an apparatus for printing on packaging comprising:
 a dispensing substrate spool for supporting a roll of continuous packaging substrate;
 a take-up substrate spool for taking up a web of packaging substrate dispensed from the dispensing spool;
 guide means between the dispensing spool and take-up spool to guide the web therebetween;
 printing means to print indicia onto the substrate; and
 a label carrier and dispenser for dispensing labels onto the substrate, the labels having a transparent window and a non-transparent section, wherein the apparatus is timed by use of sensors to dispense the labels such that the transparent window overlies the printed indicia.
 The present invention is described further by way of example with reference to the accompanying drawings of which:
 FIGS. 1(a)-1(c) illustrate printed packaging according to one embodiment of the invention at various stages in the printing process;
FIG. 2 schematically illustrates the process of printing the packaging of FIG. 1;
FIG. 3 schematically illustrates one process of printing the packaging and incorporating a prize;
FIG. 4 schematically illustrates another process of printing the packaging and incorporating a prize; and
FIG. 5 schematically illustrates still another process of printing the packaging and incorporating a prize.
 The figures illustrate printed packaging and a method and apparatus of providing printed indicia on packaging.
FIG. 1(c) illustrates a packaging substrate 10 with a competition application 11 adhered to the side of the substrate 10 that when closed around a product forms the inside 12 of the substrate.
 The application 11 includes indicia 13 printed directly onto the substrate and a barrier 14 overlying the substrate. The barrier is adhesively fixed to the substrate.
 As shown in the three stages of FIGS. 1(a) to 1(c) forming the application 11, the barrier 14 includes a transparent window 18 and a non-transparent pre-printed section 19. The barrier is positioned over the indicia 13 so that the indicia is protected and can be viewed through the transparent window 18.
 The barrier is typically a plastic label membrane and the pre-printed section in the preferred embodiment contains generic information.
 In one embodiment of the invention the packaging substrate is used for packaging food. It is important in this case to ensure that all packaging components that come into contact with the food abide by local food packaging laws and pass standards set by food authorities.
 While the substrate itself is obviously chosen from a selection of food safe packaging materials, care must be taken to ensure that any other components inside the sealed package also comply. This includes promotional labels, and encapsulation of ink.
 In other embodiments of the invention the packaging substrate can be used to package non-food grocery lines such as cleaning agents, fertiliser, personal products, etc.
 Providing, in the case of packaging food, that the promotional label is made of a food approved material, the ink used need not be approved because the label acts as a barrier between the ink and the food product. The possibility of using either an approved or non-approved ink broadens the selection of inks available to a manufacturer. A manufacturer is thus able to choose from inks possessing a wide range of properties and characteristics to better suit the manufacturer's production needs.
 For example, solvent based inks may be preferred over aqueous based inks in some applications. Solvent based inks are usually faster to dry which allows a manufacturer to speed up the production process.
 In the preferred embodiment the printed indicia on the packaging relates to information regarding a promotional competition, typically promoted by the manufacturer of the packaged product.
 However the information imparted by the indicia need not necessarily relate to a competition. It could foreseeably pertain to a simple product promotion, to a promotional game, to a ‘collect and exchange’ promotional activity, match and win, or a combination of promotional elements.
 In the case of an instant win competition the information imparted by the indicia will at times vary during the production of the printed packaging substrates.
 For instance, in the large proportion of cases the message printed will advise the consumer that they have failed to win a prize and to, perhaps, try again by participating in a second round draw. In a small percentage of cases the indicia will indicate that a prize has been won. Such variable messages are printed directly onto the substrate during the application printing process.
 To prevent theft of prize-winning packaging units at the time of printing the indicia is printed randomly using random coding software to control the printing.
 The random coding algorithm controls printing of pre-determined alpha numeric indicia. For example, before commencing the print run it may be determined that of 2 million participating packaging units, the messages on:
 10,000 will offer the consumer another of the same product (e.g. Chocolate bar) for free;
 2,500 will indicate an instant win of a third level prize;
 100 will indicate an instant win of a second lever prize; and
 1 will indicate an instant win of the grand prize.
 The remaining packaging units will bear a message such as: “Try again in our second chance draw” or any other such message or symbol.
 The message is viewed through the transparent window 18 on the label. The pre-printed section 19 on the label carries generic information that remains constant throughout the whole print run.
 Such information can include: instructions on how to claim a prize; contact details for the second round draw; competition conditions and terms; logos; etc. For instance, the indicia may be in the form of a code.
 Generic instructions on the label provide the consumer with the telephone number to ring or website address to visit in order to decipher the code and reveal if a prize has been won.
 The label may not necessarily carry pre-printed information. The information may instead be placed on the outside of the packaging. However, to reduce the cost and effort in altering the external packaging for a short-term promotion, manufacturers may prefer to place all necessary promotional details on the label.
 In one form the application is tamper evident. If an attempt is made to lift the label and tamper with the indicia the transparent window will discolour and turn cloudy when the label is re-applied making it apparent that tampering has occurred.
 Additionally, the ink will lift off the substrate with the label as the label is peeled back. This makes it difficult to interfere with the indicia as the ink attaches to the adhesive under the label.
 In another aspect of the packaging a gift or prize is included beneath the label. In this case the label need not be tamper evident. The prize will usually be a substantially flat item such as a card, transfer or the like. The prize may alternatively be attached on top of the label with adhesive and captured beneath a second label.
 The printing process may occur in one pass or may include a separate machine for each step. In the latter case production would include executing a first step on a first machine, transferring spools to a separate machine to execute a second step, and so on.
FIG. 2 illustrates an application machine 20 which prints indicia 13 and applies a label membrane 14 over the indicia. In this case, the labels already hold pre-printed generic competition information.
 Label spool 21 contains a roll of pre-printed labels on a label web 26 with their adhesive side covered by a protective backing 27. Substrate spool 22 contains a roll of package substrate units that are typically already provided on the outside of the packaging with pre-printed product information.
 The spools roll forward in the direction of arrows A so that each substrate unit on a substrate web 31 passes past print head 24. Indicia is sprayed by print head 24 onto the inside of each substrate unit. It is also known to directly stamp the substrate with indicia.
 As indicated earlier the information of the printed indicia is printed randomly and will vary during the production of the packaging units. The print head 24 is connected to a control unit (not shown) containing random coding software that controls the random nature of the printing as well as the timing of the printing in response to sensors (not shown) that monitor the alignment of the substrate web 31 units and label web 26.
 The substrate web continues to move towards a roller 25 whereafter the substrate takes up alignment alongside label web 26. As the label web nears the substrate web 31 at an angle and curves around return plate 23 to wind the backing 27 back onto a take-up label spool 30, the label membranes 14 detach from the backing 27 and attach to the substrate web 31.
 The labels contact with the substrate such that the transparent window registers directly above the printed indicia. The packaging substrate is then conveyed to substrate take-up spool 32. The process produces approximately 4.5 applications per second.
 In the above example the labels adhesively attach to the packaging substrates. In an alternate embodiment the labels may use heat sensitivity to attach in which case the process would include passing the labels under a heat lamp or ultraviolet light.
 Additionally, rather than conveying the labels facing down on a backing web, the labels could be conveyed with the adhesive side exposed such that the label web and the substrate web can be brought to almost contact in quasi-parallel alignment and a simple transfer of the label can be effected.
 FIGS. 3 to 5 illustrate methods for providing printed indicia on packaging and including prizes underneath label 14.
FIG. 3 illustrates the same components of an application machine as illustrated in FIG. 2 but with the extra step of inserting a prize beneath the label. Prize spool 50 contains a roll of prizes provided on a web 51 and dispenses prizes 52 prior to the step of labels being applied to the substrate web 31. Accordingly, prizes 52 detach from web 51 and attach onto substrate web 31. Further down the process line a label 14 is then dispensed over each prize 52. Prizes 52 are carefully aligned so as to not obscure or cover the printed indicia applied by a print head 24 such that when label 14 is applied over the prize and indicia, the indicia is still visible through the transparent window on label 14. The end result is a packaging substrate having a label through which printed indicia can be seen and which can be lifted to receive a prize. The prize may or may not be visible through a transparent portion of the label 14.
FIG. 4 illustrates an alternative embodiment of applying prizes on to web substrate 31 before application of label 14. In this embodiment the prizes are stacked in a single cartridge 60 and a circular patching unit 61 rotates to receive each prize at the top of its rotating cycle and by vacuum effect keeps each prize attached to the patching unit as it rotates towards web 31. When the prize has reached the bottom of the rotating unit the vacuum force is released to release the prize. The prize adheres to the substrate by virtue of a pre-applied adhesive layer on the prize.
FIG. 5 illustrates a similar embodiment using a cartridge 60 and patching unit 6.1 but in this embodiment the prizes are not pre-applied with adhesive and instead a glue applicator 65 upstream of the patching unit 61 applies a burst of glue on to which the prizes can adhere.
 In the above preferred embodiments the application is provided on the inside of the packaging substrate. However the described printing process could also be used on the packaging exterior. Because this means that a consumer would be able to view the indicia through the transparent window on the label before purchase, an extra component would be required to cover the window.
 The printed packaging described herein need not be used solely for promotional activities but may be used to impart any kind of information. For example, the printed packaging can be used on the exterior of packaging to provide information about the contents contained therein, ingredients, nutritional information, to identify flavour and color of packaged product, and the like.
 For example, the transparent window could be obscured by a cardboard or plastic flap that is attached to the application by perforations. The flap could conceivably only be lifted by tearing the perforations to reveal the window, prize and indicia underneath. The flap would, ideally, only be lifted after purchase.
 In the claims which follow and in the preceding description of the invention, except where the context requires otherwise due to express language or necessary implication, the word “comprise” or variations such as “comprises” or “comprising” is used in an inclusive sense, i.e. to specify the presence of the stated features but not to preclude the presence or addition of further features in various embodiments of the invention.
 It will be understood to persons skilled in the art of the invention that many modifications may be made without departing from the spirit and scope of the invention.