Sun Chemical says its new range allows the printing of individual cells to create a difference between a raised surface and the base substrate, giving a tacticle dimension to the packaging.
The ability to print texture, may also provide packagers with an opportunity to simplify packaging, currently molded to define shape, by using the printing to create a grip on soft drinks bottles, for example.
Barry Ferne, business development manager for Sun Chemical UK's packaging division, said many different effects can be achieved using tactile printing. Each product can be created to individual customers needs, with shrink sleeves an obvious application, he said.
Sun claims that by using special materials and techniques, similar effects can be achieved using the flexo printing system. This development may be used to make the packaging on a loaf of bread without crusts feel softer, the company claims.
"Tactile coatings do not have to be printed across the whole of a product's packaging to be of benefit," he said. "They could be added to specific areas to increase functionality or for decoration effect, which makes it an interesting proposition for brand owners who want to add a seasonal aspect to their packaging without changing the base packs."
Sun Chemical worked in partnership with the Keating Group, engraving specialists, on the development of a coarse pigmented gravure printing system.
The tactile inks and lacquers created out of the partnership can be printed using a standard cylinder.
John Simms, development manager at Keating Group, said: "This system offers something new and different."