Steven Label and Robinson Printing unite

Two printing companies that have worked with medical device manufacturers for decades are coming together, expanding options and potentially easing order management for customers.

Steven Label Corp., which began making parts for medical device companies in the 1950s, has acquired Robinson Printing Inc., known for its instructions-for-use solutions (IFUs) and folding cartons. Originally founded in 1924, Robinson Printing started serving the medical device market after purchasing Maurice Printers in Temecula in 1992.

Don Chelius, vice president of sales & marketing for Steven Label, describes the company’s beginnings in the 1950s as “an engineering firm that happened to make labels.” The company has “roots” in producing durable supplies for aerospace, he tells PMP News. “We learned a lot around quality; the rigors of aerospace qualified us for medical devices. We developed measurement-oriented manufacturing processes.”

Over the years Steven Label added to its capabilities, and it currently employs silk screen, flexo, digital, off-set, thermal-transfer, and hot-stamp printing to produce bar coded and variable data labels and more. “We can print graphic overlays, nameplates, and even circuits for membrane switches. We can figure out the best mode of printing and use special inks,” Chelius explains. The company has even printed biosensors, implants, and force-sensing resistors as well as printed and die-cut Tyvek.

About four years ago the company had begun outsourcing inserts orders to Robinson Printing. “We had no insert-printing capability in-house, so we dug a little deeper and found that it was a good time for us to come together,” he says.

Robinson Printing’s team felt the same way. “We share a lot of the same customers, and we share the same values,” says Lori Robinson, originally with Robinson Printing who now serves as marketing manager for the Steven Label companies. “Our customers are looking for a way to get labels, instructions, and cartons from one source.”

Chelius says that medical device manufacturers can be commodity driven these days, so the acquisition could help them streamline their own internal operations. “They often have an insert team, a label team, and a carton team,” he explains. “This unites their internal teams. In addition, as customers plan their business, they will know the status of their projects.” 

Central to such awareness for Steven Label’s customers is its STAT (Supply Team Automated Tracking) label management system, which is now rolling out to Robinson Printing’s product lines.

The solution was originally created in 1986, when Steven Label’s current owner and president Steve Stong decided to computerize the business. A relational database was created that allowed the printer to track orders through bar code scanning. It later migrated to the Internet and became a “do-it-yourself order-tracking service for customers,” Chelius says. “It made us more accountable. Through STAT, customers can plan production and track orders in real time, almost like watching the stock market.

“Today, we are still one of the few companies to offer such a service,” he continues. “And because we own STAT, we can make incremental changes based on customer needs.”

STAT provides the following label workflow and management support:

  • Ordering and reordering.
  • Specifications.
  • Proof of delivery.
  • Online proofing and commenting.
  • Reporting.
  • Thumbnails of artwork.
  • Certificates of compliance and conformance.

Above: A screen shot from STAT


Steven Label and Robinson Printing will be exhibiting at Booth #2055 at MD&M West 2018 (Feb. 6-8; Anaheim, CA). The teams will be on hand to discuss the acquisition and acquaint customers with the expanded offerings.

“Becoming part of Steven Label will continue the legacy of Robinson Printing allowing us to grow and prosper,” said fourth-generation owner, Dave Robinson, president of Robinson Printing, in a statement. “This is an ideal fit. Steven Label and Robinson Printing service similar markets and their company values and work ethics very closely match the principles we hold at Robinson Printing. That’s very important to the Robinson Family and it was an essential requirement for the transaction.”

“We are excited about bringing Robinson Printing’s team into the Steven Label family of companies,” added Stong in the statement. “We saw the strategic fit, as Robinson Printing and Steven Label customers have increasingly been looking to consolidate suppliers. We can now provide labels, printed instructions, and folding cartons to our customers. We are pleased to continue to grow the Robinson Family’s 93-year legacy of success and we are proud to welcome their employees and their families to ours. This is a big day for all of us.”        

Steven Label now employs approximately 180 employees and has five manufacturing locations, in Santa Fe Springs, CA; Temecula, CA; and Tijuana, Mexico. 

Visit Steven Label and Robinson Printing at Booth #2055 at MD&M West 2018 (Feb. 6-8; Anaheim, CA).

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Maty’s pharmaceutical packaging radiates ‘home remedy’

This cold-and-flu season, a new packaging design for Maty’s natural and organic remedies, featuring full-body labeling and food-centric graphics, is turning shoppers’ heads. Made with “whole-food ingredients”—the kind found in traditional home remedies—Maty’s over-the-counter pharmaceutical products are formulated to calm or prevent maladies ranging from coughs to diaper rash.

The redesigned packaging helps shoppers easily distinguish between two of Maty’s product lines: Organic Cough Syrup and All Natural Cough Syrup. Both product lines use a custom square bottle made from recycled plastic, a matte-finish shrink-sleeve label and a continuous-thread closure. There the similarity ends.

The All Natural Cough Syrup bottle’s label is white, and its closure is plastic. In contrast, the Organic Cough Syrup package has a tan label and a custom aluminum closure “inspired by Mason jar lids,” according to Jeff Berg, creative director at Haberman, the agency Maty’s worked with on the redesign.

“The previous packaging included brown, plastic stock bottles that lived inside rectangular boxes,” Berg adds. “For environmental reasons, we stepped away from the outer box they had originally. This dictated the shape of our bottle, because we had to make room for all of the information that originally lived on the box.”

Maty’s ointments and rubs remain in their original tubes and tubs. But, as with the rest of the product line, these packages benefitted from redesigned graphics that include artful illustrations of ingredients like cinnamon and nutmeg.

Berg answers a few questions about the package redesign, which launched in September 2017.


Why did you use an aluminum closure for Maty’s Organic Cough Syrup?

Berg: We chose to use the metal cap on the Organic line to further distinguish it from the All Natural line.


How does the new packaging communicate “kitchen cabinet” rather than “medicine cabinet”?

Berg: The packaging is food first. The recipes for Maty’s are an evolution of recipes our great grandmothers might have made from scratch. By illustrating the ingredients, we convey an all-natural but also a folk-like aesthetic. It highlights the food ingredients in each bottle. This look and feel really pops next to the bold reds, blues and oranges of the traditional medicine-aisle shelves.


Why is that so important?

Berg: The design has everything to do with appealing to those consumers. Over-the-counter medicines, as products, have lived in this clean, clinical—even sterile—aesthetic for a long time. But Maty’s is made with ingredients you can find in your kitchen. And consumers who want real foods and natural products buy things that look natural. So it made sense to us to match Maty’s outside—its packaging—with what’s inside.


Who supplies the packaging components?

Berg: Berlin Packaging in New Jersey created the custom bottle and cap. Consolidated Label in Florida printed the bottle labels.


How have consumers reacted to the new packaging?

Berg: The feedback has been resoundingly positive. Good impact, easy to understand and very differentiated.



A magic kingdom of packaging solutions: For packaging engineers, executives and designers—WestPack 2018 (Feb. 6-8; Anaheim, CA) delivers leading technologies, free educational presentations, hands-on demonstrations, exceptional networking opportunities and expert-led Innovation Tours. Click here to register now!

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Have you selected the right adhesive coating?

Water-based and hot-melt adhesive coatings are commonly used for creating peelable seals. There are many formulations, so how do you choose the right one for your package?

Kevin Zacharias, technical director, and Rick Brady, technology manager, both with Oliver Healthcare Packaging, will help you explore your options in their presentation: “Mission Possible: Formulating the Right Adhesive Coating for Your Application.” Held on Tuesday, February 6, at 1:30pm – 2:15pm in the WestPack Hub, this session is free for all expo attendees.

During the WestPack session, Brady and Zacharias will discuss several common “missions” packaging professionals encounter every day, discuss the adhesive formulation process and the chemistry involved, and address how they solve for the various issues that may occur.

“We are generally formulating for cohesive seal systems, which means that the adhesive layer is the weak point and we get split down the middle of the adhesive,” Brady recently explained during the now on-demand Webcast, “Adhesive Tips & Tricks Every Medical Packaging Engineer Should Know.” Such an approach generates seal transfer, and he pointed to the transfer that can be seen on PETG trays after a coated Tyvek lid has been peeled away.

Oliver can tailor formulations for different properties such as adhesive strength, cohesive strength, adhesive transfer, hot tack, cold shock, antiblock, and others, he explained.

Once you have selected your formulation and properties, you also need to develop your sealing process, determining the temperature, pressure, and dwell time needed for a specified seal strength.

“A word of caution—you can have a good-looking seal cosmetically—the adhesive transfer looks good with no gaps or voids, but you might not be fully optimized because your seal strength is too low,” said Zacharias during the Webcast. “You have to look at multiple factors before deciding whether you are optimized.”

Zacharias was also asked whether an adhesive coating can help “level the playing field.”

“In my experience, having a coating available can be a little more forgiving in a sealing process if you think about the variations in sealing temperatures across the sealing platen as well as in levelness,” he explained. “An adhesive layer can help even things out and can be easier to work with.”

Brady and Zacharias will walk WestPack Hub attendees through such issues, tackling these questions:

  • Is optimizing seal strength for different applications your challenge?
  • Are you concerned with elevated temperatures and sterilizer creep? 
  • How can you mitigate risk?

Don’t miss “Mission Possible: Formulating the Right Adhesive Coating for Your Application,” Tuesday, February 6, at 1:30pm – 2:15pm in the WestPack Hub.

To listen to the on-demand Webcast, please read our article, “Concerned about risk in your sterile barrier system? Consider your adhesive coating.”


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WestPack 2018 debuts new edutainment sessions, demos

Fun, engaging and educational packaging sessions at the upcoming WestPack 2018 event (Feb. 6-8; Anaheim, CA) will be centered at the new WestPack Hub in Booth #5297. Sustainability, career advice and packaging for cannabis are among the hot topics we’ll explore.

At the WestPack Hub and throughout the event, Packaging Digest, Pharmaceutical & Medical Packaging News and UBM will deliver engaging and extensive packaging-related live content across all three days. Some of the “can’t miss” packaging activities scheduled for WestPack 2018 are:

The Recycling Challenge: Available for attendees to play throughout the three-day show, The Recycling Challenge was designed by the Sustainable Packaging Coalition to help packaging professionals realize just how hard it is for consumers to correctly sort empty packages for proper disposal. Is the package recyclable or not? Come take the challenge yourself—it’s free and fun!—at the WestPack Hub Booth #5297.

Educational presentations: Engaging presentations on some of today’s hottest topics and emerging trends will keep you up to date and help inspire ideas you can take back to your team. Find out why you need to be a great sustainability storyteller or what changes in California’s Proposition 65 law will mean to packaging professionals. Click here to see the full agenda of free presentations at the WestPack Hub Booth #5297.

Live demos: Among the WestPack Hub presentations that include live demonstrations is “Just How Hard Is It to Open a Medical Package Aseptically?” Scheduled for Tues., Feb. 6, from 11:15 a.m. to noon, this session will show what happens when healthcare professionals try to open packages—and will track any contamination. Join speaker Laura Bix, associate director of the School of Packaging at Michigan State University, for her presentation and live demo in Booth #5297.

Innovation Hour: Rapid-fire presentations on new products or technologies from leading suppliers and event exhibitors will be slightly longer than an elevator pitch—just enough for you to determine an interest. If so, you can follow up directly with the company in their booth. Free for attendees, the Innovation Hour for Packaging is Wed., Feb. 7, 3:30-4:30 p.m. at the WestPack Hub Booth #5297.

Smart Manufacturing Conference: This paid conference program explores emerging and expanding technologies of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, collaborative robots and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). See a list of the sessions here.

3D Printing Innovation Summit: This full conference program is dedicated to deep-dive sessions on how 3D printing is shaping the future of manufacturing. View the schedule for this paid 3D printing conference here.

Center Stage: Located across from Booth #450, Center Stage presents topics and experts across a range of markets, designed to appeal to attendees from all our co-located shows in Anaheim: WestPack, ATX West (Automation Technology), MD&M (Medical Design & Manufacturing), Plastec West and Pacific Design & Manufacturing Expo. Interested in Smart Manufacturing? Trends in robotics? Want to know how 3D printing brought the Demogorgon from the hit Netflix’s show “Stranger Things” to life? See the full schedule for Center Stage here. Center Stage is free to all event attendees.

Innovation Tours: Led by executive editors Lisa McTigue Pierce and Daphne Allen, these free one-hour expeditions will show you a handful of the most interesting packaging-related exhibits in Anaheim this year. Our three packaging-related tours are scheduled for Tues., Feb. 6, at noon, for Wed., Feb. 7, at noon; and for Thurs., Feb. 8, at 11:00 a.m. Meet in Booth #313 a few minutes before the tours to get your tour plan and headset. More details to come soon on these packaging tours. See the full schedule of Innovation Tours here, which are free for attendees for all co-located events.

New! Attendee-to-Exhibitor Matchmaking: This opportunity to find new business partners offers one-on-one meetings where attendees and exhibitors are matched according to areas of interest and products/services offered. These meetings will happen each afternoon from 2:00 to 3:15 p.m. in the Connection Corner in Hall E at Booth #184. Learn more about the free Attendee-to-Exhibitor Matchmaking here.


Click here for more information about WestPack 2018. Register now to take advantage of all these extra activities.

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Sensational soufflé packaging reunites Delici with Costco

The 2018 follow-up to 2016’s successful Delici dessert mousse packaging is a soufflé uniquely packaged in Ferrari-red ceramic ramekins that are reusable.


Ed. Note: One of the best-read features posted at Packaging Digest over the past two years that continues to draw solid interest monthly was our interview with designer Justin Johnson of More Brand from April 2016 regarding a unique packaged dessert developed for Costco (Decadent Delici dessert packaging designed for Costco).

That breakthrough hit is a hard act to follow, but Johnson—who branched out with a food-and-beverage-specific design business, Shelf Packaging—and his associates are up to the task with something that’s at least as innovative. In fact, it’s so unique, this may very well be the first time this material has ever been considered, much less used, as a container in the packaged food market.

This time, Johnson tells his own story of a sensational Dark Chocolate Soufflé debuting at Costco in Canada later this month.


The brand

The new Delici soufflé product is a natural extension to the Delici product portfolio. After having an initial breakout hit with our reusable dessert mousse glasses, the pressure was on to expand market share in the fresh dessert category. Delici’s ambitions extend well beyond that of a mousse company; Delici creates fresh desserts for those personal moments of indulgence as well as impressing guests at special events.

We will soon be launching our first item, “Dark Chocolate Soufflé,” with several more to follow throughout 2018. Set to debut at Costco in Canada, it was specifically created for the Christmas through Valentine’s Day period expressly for Costco and features a Ferrari red ramekin. If the results are good with this initial short launch into Valentine’s 2018, then this item will be carried from Christmas through Valentines going forward. As before, the packaging, printing and manufacturing of the products was done in Belgium.

The packaging

A significant component of the Delici brand is the thoughtful packaging of the product. One of our core brand values is that the packaging must create additional value for the beyond the life of the product. The Shelf Packaging team ensured that the new soufflé met those non-negotiable brand criteria.

Delici’s new dark chocolate with salted caramel soufflé is packaged in ceramic ramekins that are comparable to what you would find at your local upscale kitchen store. After use, the individual serving cup ramekins are great for baking, cooking or serving at home. They make great decorative serving dishes for ingredients and toppings in the kitchen. They are even microwavable. Those less inclined to cook can use them to tastefully store change or keys.

We had a custom ferarri red ramekin manufactured to not only enhance the beauty of the dark chocolate product, but to create an ambiance related to both holidays. The product beauty photography was done with a background using a natural white barn wood sourced from Kentucky creating a beautiful light, airy and clean presentation complimenting the product and allowing it to be the hero.

The ceramic ramekins were extremely difficult to source. All of us that play a role on the Delici team had very high expectations. Our desired specifications and large quantities presented serious challenges. Not only that, the weight of the product and size of the portions added greater complexity. It was a tough problem that took many months of painstaking research and development to get right.

Graphics are printed C1S paperboard stock printed with five colors and glued for a tight tolerance on the plastic clamshell. Each filled ramekin is about 100 (3.53oz) net weight.

We thought the development of the outer packaging would be easier this time around because we had been through the process before. However, in many ways our team found it much more difficult. When you have a big hit on your first product, the pressure builds and the expectations are high for both your internal team and your customer base. Our team refined this package down to the millimeter, iteration after iteration. When one team member was worn out and ready to call it “good enough,” another one stepped in and pushed it further.

The graphics

As far as the graphics, the design team at SHELF Packaging wanted the look and feel of the packaging to appropriately communicate that of a freshly prepared dessert. The photography was shot in a workstation type of environment. Ingredients are loosely visible in the shot where the product itself is being prepared in real-time. The package back shows the dessert being lightly sprinkled with powdered sugar visually reminiscent of a light snow or magical fairy dust enchanting the consumer. The graphics are distressed for a more natural look than our elegant mousses.

The product

The product development was agonizing. “Eating a soufflé everyday for months to get the recipe perfect doesn’t sound bad to most people, but it was brutal,” says Mike Horne from Sunwest Sales, “and duplicating a fine restaurant soufflé for mass consumption was really tough.”

Translating the small batch recipe into a mass-scale production and keeping that home-style dessert quality was demoralizing at times. The thing to take away is when you have a passionate leader like Delici founder Steven Himpe the standards are high and there are no such things as shortcuts or “good enough.” That is what we love about working with Steven and Mike. You can achieve great things when you have built a relationship on trust. It gives all parties the freedom to be direct, critique hard and push-back until the problem is solved.


The response

After many late nights and endless pots of coffee the teams at Shelf Packaging and Delici are proud of the final result. Buyers are excited and eager to get this product on the shelf.


Justin Johnson is the founder of SHELF Packaging and has 17+ years’ experience in branding and package design for club store, c-store, private label and grocery channels. He can be reached at or 918-609-3529.

SHELF Packaging is a package design and branding agency specializing in snacks, food & beverage. We strategize & create to power the growth of your brand portfolio by building authentic connections between your brands and your customers. 


Hungry for packaging information and ideas? During WestPack in Anaheim, CA, February 6-8, 2018, you’ll find free educational presentations, hands-on demos, networking opportunities and expert-led Innovation Tours. For more information, visit WestPack, which is co-located with PLASTEC West.


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