In the United States and across the globe, flexible packaging has become one of the fastest growing industries in recent years. It should come as no surprise that the flexible packaging market is only growing more competitive as more packaging converters and brands vie for the attention of consumers. Whether the package is used for food products, beauty supplies, pet goods, or any other market segment, creative graphics and packaging designs serve as a key component in the marketing strategy for a growing number of brands.  

Flexible packaging converters who rise to the challenge and utilize more innovative specialty finishes and embellishments will experience more pronounced long-term success as brands flock to their products and services. However, many converters are unaware of just how many options are available regarding different print webs and special effects. This article will take a look at several unique finishes available for flexible packaging and explore how converters of every size and capability can use them to increase their margins, grow their customer base, and branch out into new markets and industries. 

In the flexible packaging space, a specialty finish is any coating, laminate, or film that is applied to the print web layer of the packaging to give it an effect that goes beyond a basic gloss or matte finish. While UV coatings are typically fragile and difficult to apply, thermal laminates and adhesive-free films are used in the print web layer of flexible packaging to ensure cleanup is quick and efficient and supplement the packaging’s durability. 

Specialty finishes are applied to a base film (typically an OPP or PET material) in the manufacturing process, which means the finish is highly durable and will not wear off throughout the packaging’s lifespan. These films may incur a higher material cost than gloss or matte finishes, but they can command a higher margin due to the fact that they are so effective at drawing the attention of consumers and driving sales.  

Many finishes also come in different sizes, materials, and iterations, enabling brands to use them across a wide variety of packaging types for greater brand consistency, a concept Nobelus calls Cross Market Ingenuity (CMI). Converters who utilize a flexographic press tend to favor adhesive-free films, while converters with a digital press typically pair it with thermal lamination. Some converters have even seen success in applying thermal laminates through solventless lamination in order to use the best finish for their application. Regardless of the product, Nobelus always encourages converters to perform a trial run before purchasing a finish to ensure the highest quality results.  


Print web films come in a wide variety of specialty finishes and effects, and flexible packaging converters have many lamination suppliers to choose from. Nobelus has invested significant time and resources into curating a diverse portfolio of specialty finishes for flexible packaging converters. These products include both adhesive-free films designed for solventless lamination and thermal laminates designed for thermal laminating systems, typically used in conjunction with digital presses. 

The Tactile Collection in the Nobelus portfolio consists of finishes that are designed to engage the consumer’s sense of touch. Every finish in the Tactile Collection has something unique to offer flex pack converters that will help them target specific markets and customer profiles. To learn more about these finishes, read our previous article, “Elevating Prints and Packaging With Tactile Finishes.” 

By far the most popular finish in the Nobelus portfolio (and one of the most well known in the print finishing industry), Karess® is a luxuriously soft finish that gives prints and packaging a high-end appeal. Its rich, rose petal surface instantly makes products stand out when consumers pick them up in retail settings, and when used for business cards or marketing collateral, the finish conveys that the person or business offers professional, high-quality services.  

Karess is available as a thermal laminate and an adhesive-free film to support different types of lamination, and it also comes in several different material types and thicknesses. This variety enables converters to utilize the same finish across many different packaging formats and match other types of applications used by a brand, such as prime labels, folding cartons, and rigid boxes. 

FineGrit™ is the latest finish in the Nobelus Tactile Collection and offers converters a unique contrast to popular soft-touch options for markets that want to portray grittiness and toughness. Unlike similar coatings, FineGrit makes no mess when it is applied and cannot be rubbed off with frequent handling or processing. Instead, the finish is built into the film itself, making it extremely hard, durable, and scratch resistant. Like Karess, FineGrit comes as both a thermal laminate and an adhesive-free film to support thermal and solventless lamination, but the laminate version may be too thick for many converters.  

FineLinen™ and FineLeather™ are two tactile finishes that come only in thermal laminate form, but their subtle patterns provide an excellent accent for a wide variety of applications. FineLinen gives packaging a rustic yet elegant appeal with a pattern that replicates woven fabric. It is frequently used for packaging in wedding and celebration services, bagged beverages, and high-end occasions. In contrast, FineLeather features a pattern that looks like genuine leather, making it perfect for classy, sophisticated applications in hygiene, self-care, and luxury goods. 

In the Nobelus Endurance Collection, flex pack converters will find finishes that increase the durability of the print web layer to help prevent printed designs from being damaged or obscured by scratches, smudges, and more. These options ensure products that are frequently picked up and examined by consumers in stores remain in excellent condition regardless of how often they are handled. 

ScuffProof® is a truly unique finish in that it is completely immune to scratching, scuffing, and burnishing due to its hardened topcoat. Combined with its glare-resistant matte appearance, the impressive durability of this finish makes it excellent for reusable packaging, such as bulk-sized pouches, or any application that needs to remain in perfect condition through shipping and handling. ScuffProof is available as a thermal laminate and an adhesive-free film and is another excellent way to create more consistent branding across different applications through CMI. 

Available only as a thermal laminate, SmudgeProof™ keeps packaging from being marred by fingerprints, smudges, or oil regardless of how many consumers pick up the package to examine it. In addition to its non-reflective matte look, this finish has a distinctive soft-touch appeal that, while not as pronounced as Karess, still gives packaging a haptic element.  

Holographic patterns are an excellent way to add an eye-catching appeal to packaging while preserving the product’s durability. Because the holographic effect is built into the surface of the film, the pattern has no seamlines or repeats. The prismatic effect is popular in cannabis, health and beauty, and tamper-resistant applications. 

Rainbow Holografik™ comes as a thermal laminate and an adhesive-free film, but only the film is recommended for flexible packaging applications due to the laminate’s rigidity. This glossy, clear finish features a stunning holographic effect that refracts light to create a spectrum of colors that change as the package is turned over. Unlike many other flex pack finishes, Rainbow Holografik Film is made of durable PET, which makes it excellent for stand-up pouches and other packaging formats that need to hold their shape or are exposed to high temperatures during processing.  

Specialty finishes play a crucial role in helping brands reach their intended customers, but even basic gloss and matte finishes can be used in creative ways to complement flexible packaging designs. Sometimes the appeal of a print web layer lies not in exciting visuals but in other more functional properties.  

EcoElement™ CLS Gloss and Matte are known less for their visual effects, which consist of simple gloss and matte, than they are their unique material construction. All EcoElement CLS products have a base film made from sustainably sourced cellulose, a material made from wood pulp. While the thermal laminate version simply helps to reduce plastic usage due to its EVA adhesive layer, the adhesive-free film is completely plastic free and can be composted in both industrial and home settings. When combined with an otherwise compostable package, these films can help brands and consumers eliminate plastic waste in our landfills. 


All thermal laminates and adhesive-free films in the Nobelus portfolio are available as sample rolls and can be delivered right to your business at no cost. If you want to learn more about any of the finishes listed above before ordering a sample, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Our customer service representatives are always eager to learn more about your business’s unique needs and explore how our solutions can help you increase your margins, explore new markets, and grow your customer base. We also offer consultation for flex pack converters who are interested in exploring other technologies, learning about food safety, or auditing their workflow to find areas for improvement.