As consumers desire an increasing amount of information about the products they buy, packaging designers often struggle to include all the extras while keeping the packaging clear and visually appealing. The Dutch company FiliGrade offers a solution: By embedding invisible watermarks, the customer can access a host of information and additional services via apps on their tablets and smartphones. The watermarks not only link up tangible and digital information, they also increase security by adding anti-tampering and anti-counterfeit protection.

The glass and metal packaging producer Ardagh, one of the leading packaging producers in the world, recently partnered with FiliGrade to add a host of promotional and security features to its metal packaging solutions. The invisible watermark is created by a special software that produces the FiliGrade Interactive Digital Watermark (FIDW).

“There is no use of special or invisible inks so our solution won’t contaminate the waste stream or change the current printing process”, says Krishna Sheombar Sing, FiliGrade’s Chief Sales & Marketing Officer. The process is simple: “The brand owner delivers the digital print-ready PDF file to FiliGrade and FiliGrade sends the watermarked file back to the brand owner and from there it’s business as usual”, he explains.

The invisible digital watermark can be embedded on one or more key places in any print-ready file for any substrate. The mobile app verifies the accuracy of the watermark, thus adding anti-counterfeit protection. It can also help increase the recycling rate of a product, most notably of PET bottles. The FiliGrade watermark, could, for example, be used during the waste separation process to identify materials that can be recycled or reused.


Allergy information, information about the provenance of the ingredients, brand information, links to customer loyalty programs and promotions can also be connected via app to the watermark. For people with allergies, for example, the app could simplify the shopping process. Instead of reading a long list of ingredients in small print, the FiliGrade app would simply tell them whether the product in question is safe for them or not.

In addition to the brand-awareness and customer loyalty applications, FiliGrade has another creative use in mind: The watermark could connect buyers of do-it-yourself furniture with videos and animation that show how the piece needs to be assembled. Instead of struggling with cryptic manuals, the user could watch the video while she is putting together the new bookshelf.