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Packaging Design – The First Step to Perfect Packaging

Packaging is the way manufacturers connect physically with consumers. So, it’s no wonder that packaging design is such an important and stressed-over element in product design. But it goes far, far beyond just looks…

Packaging plays a crucial role in functionality, protection and sustainability. It can be the difference between shipping a product whole or in several packages. In this post, we delve into packaging design beyond beauty – and the significance of polythene in modern packaging.


Abstract imagery of orange boxes and packaging design of different sizes, on an orange background.


It’s not just visual packaging design that counts

Packaging design has to be functional, or it’s useless. We’ve seen loads of clever and quirky packshots on LinkedIn, Instagram and Etsy – and while they look really cool, our first thoughts are always along the lines of “that’s never going to survive a pallet delivery”. Looks alone are not enough. And even if looks were the priority, you’d be sacrificing sustainability and profit (or cost to the consumer) to make it so.

Good packaging design ensures that products are safely transported, stored and displayed. And this is why polythene is so widely adopted in packaging. It is exceptionally durable, flexible and totally moisture resistant, while being super lightweight. Polythene often gets passed off for not looking “premium” enough; but even luxury products would be dead in the water if polythene wasn’t used at some point in the supply chain.

Of course, a final packaging design all depends on the industry and the products in question. It’s not a one-size-fits-all affair. Packaging design is always bespoke, with lots of factors considered by the designer.

Packaging design for different industries

Ecommerce packaging

The high street isn’t gone yet – but online shopping is definitely the future, and ecommerce packaging has gained significant importance in recent years. A lot of this is centred around wastage, with retailers like Amazon taking flak for their wasteful packaging practices.

Learn more about eliminating waste by using Right-Sized Packaging

Polythene is a popular choice for ecommerce retailers, due to its low shipping weight, ease of customisation and ability to protect products from dirt and moisture. Packaging design for ecommerce focuses on optimising package size and branding – but in recent years, plastic packaging has fallen out of favour as consumers become more eco-conscious.

But studies by major retailers show that doing away with plastic might not be the best course to follow…

“Despite their eco branding, paper bags take 400% more resources to make”

Electronics packaging

Electronics packaging has so many challenges. Modern devices (or the components that make them up) need protection against shocks, moisture and static electricity. Polythene packaging designs feature anti-static additives, to safeguard delicate electronic components – but beyond bagging, packaging for electronics needs to incorporate cushioning and multiple compartments for accessories, manuals, screws and power cables.

We’ve recently covered electronics packaging design in detail, in this post – but the aesthetic design of consumer electronics packaging is super important, too.

It’s not clear how the audiences using and buying devices truly feel about waste and sustainability, judging by how much e-waste there is in the world – and it seems as if the packaging for electronics reflects that. There’s a tendency towards “premium at all costs” that certainly provides an excellent unboxing experience, but may be missing eco targets.

Food packaging

Food packaging is vital for freshness, extending shelf life, and ensuring food safety. In fact, we’d all starve without it!

Read more: Polythene Use in the Food Industry

And it was once common to have double-packaged items, with an inner polythene bag, and an outer cardboard box. In an attempt to scale down packaging and waste, we’re seeing more and more single packaging solutions – like gusseted polythene bags. Take coffee beans, for example; this style of packaging has overtaken every other type in the world of coffee. Nothing can match the freshness and seal provided by a gusseted bag, which can be printed directly, and filled in an automated packaging line.

This is just one example of a highly efficient and effective packaging design, made possible by polythene.

Medical packaging

Medical packaging maintains sterility, product integrity – and provides clear instructions for use. That’s why polythene medical packaging is a common choice, due to its excellent barrier properties and printability.

Medical packaging design involves considerations for easy opening, tamper-evident features and clear labelling. But medical packaging must also address specific transportation and storage requirements – like chilling or even freezing temperatures. Polythene packaging can withstand some pretty extreme environmental conditions, and can be treated with polythene additives to withstand sub-zero temperatures.

Learn more about medical-grade polythene

Packaging design needs material knowledge

A skilled packaging designer, with deep materials knowledge, is a valuable asset to any company. At NPF Packaging, we have a comprehensive understanding of different packaging materials – especially polythene – and use our expertise to create innovative designs for customers in some of the most challenging industries in the world.

We’ve been in the packaging materials industry since 1968, working with clients big, small, and everything in between. Contact us for a specialist packaging design consultation, and get the best possible outcomes for your customers and products.

Get a quote online, or call us on 01773 820415.