Easiness of reading package information and easiness of opening the package are essential characteristics for the usability of packages. Methods for testing these characteristics have been developed at VTT. 'Easy to read' test is a method which helps to identify problem areas in packaging design and to develop clear and simple packaging. In this validated method the trained sensory expert panel evaluates the easiness to read the information on the sample packages in two replicate sessions. Typeface, layout, colours, language, pictures and symbols and reflectivity of the surface material are assessed. Negotiations on offering the 'Easy to read' test method as a service are on-going.
The test method for studying the openability of packages was developed earlier in a Nordic Easyopenpack project (Heiniö et al., 2008). 'Easy to open' test method shows the critical factors in opening of packages, and helps to develop user-friendlier packages. How to get the grip from opening mechanism and the strength needed to open the package are examples of examined features. The evaluation panel of the Finnish Rheumatism Association recognizes the label 'Easy to open' for packages based on the validated sensory profiling method (VTT-5631-09).
The HELP project (2010-2013), coordinated by VTT and funded by the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation Tekes, included comparison of the usability of various types of pharmaceutical packages, and development of test methods to facilitate packaging design. The project was implemented jointly by VTT, the Gerontology Research Centre of the University of Jyväskylä, and the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. The students of the Institute of Design and Fine Arts at Lahti University of Applied Sciences generated novel, easy-to-open design solutions for pharmaceutical packages. Other participants in the project were two pharmaceutical companies, Santen Oy and Abbvie Oy, and the graphical industry player Jaakkoo-Taara Oy. The specialist consultants of the project were from Pharma Industry Finland, the Finnish Rheumatism Association, and the Association of Packaging Technology and Research.
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