When McKeon Products, Inc. out of Warren, MI chose to introduce its new Lunaguard nighttime dental protector in the spring of 2015, it wanted to do so in style. “We wanted to arrive in the oral care section of drug stores and mass retailers with a package that projected the uniqueness and high quality of Lunaguard,” says Dan Asma, president of McKeon. “We were referred to Transparent Container Company by the designer that conceived the package design, and they created exactly what we needed.”

Lunaguard is designed to protect consumers’ teeth from sleep bruxism–grinding of the teeth during sleep. It is formed from material strong enough to prevent the consumer biting through it, yet is only 16mm thick for maximum comfort. The guard, which is free of Bisphenol A (BPA), polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and Latex, is also perforated to allow it to better flex and absorb the powerful pressures created by grinding teeth.

The consumer shapes the guard to his or her individual bite by placing the guard in hot water until it softens and turns clear, then biting down gently to mold it into a comfortable fit. If the fit is not quite right, or becomes uncomfortable over time, the molding process can be repeated up to twenty times.    

Engineering the perfect package

McKeon’s design firm, Fischer Design, had conceived of a package that would prominently display the guard, giving consumers the opportunity to clearly view its unique slim shape, and also be a tall, colorful and eye-catching package that would outshine competitors on the shelf.

“We came to Transparent Container with the look, the package size and how the guard would be displayed,” says Asma. “Their challenge was then to engineer the package and create the tools and production processes that would make that package a reality.”

The outer sleeve of the package is .012 PVC. The original design called for that sleeve to be decorated with a bright colored metallic finish. Foil stamping would have been the traditional way to accomplish that, but in addition to being costly, the foil would have to be held back significantly in order not to interfere with the RF cutting of the finished sleeve from the printed sheet.

Transparent Container’s alternative solution was to use an anilox coater to apply a UV metallic silver coating. This produced a brighter metallic finish than either a UV ink or a metallic flexographic ink, and when the coating was then overprinted with transparent colored inks, the blue and silver inks took on the look of metallic inks, giving the package brilliant metallic elements.

Overcoming packaging obstacles

The sleeve cap and base are injection molded, as are the clip that holds the guard and the base it rests on. The clamshell that holds the protective case is .020 PVC. Getting these parts to the final package that achieves marketing goals, while being assembled cost-effectively and shipped securely, took numerous iterations, according to Asma, including sketches, computer–generated drawings and models.

One challenge, for instance, was to stabilize the clip that holds the guard. Originally, it rested on the top of the clamshell that holds the antimicrobial case, but that did not afford a stable base. Transparent Container added an injection-molded shelf that rests on the clamshell and is held level by the clip, which passes through it. This keeps the guard stable within the viewing window when the consumer picks up the package to view it.

A second challenge was keeping the clamshell and guard in its clip stable within the sleeve. The solution was to add a U-shaped tab to the bottom of each side of the sleeve. Folded up inside the sleeve, these clips catch raised tabs on each side of the clamshell to hold the contents secure during shipping and handling in the store.

Printing the sleeve, including the anilox coating, requires two passes: the first pass prints two hits of opaque white ink, while additionally applying the UV anilox coating; and the second pass uses eight print units to print three hits of opaque white, the 4-color process to create the face image, with an added PMS 300 blue and a spot UV clear gloss flexible coating to create the metallic blue and silver information sections.

The final package

The dramatic, eye-catching PVC sleeve printed in brilliant metallic colors prominently displays the mouth guard for consumers to clearly see. In addition to the guard, the sleeve contains a clamshell insert that carries the guard’s antimicrobial protective storage case and an informational insert that describes how to form and care for the guard.

“Lunaguard is a relatively expensive, but extremely valuable product,” Asma says. “The package has to project that value through its own quality and by making the product clearly visible. Thanks to Transparent Container, we have a package that does that.”