The science of wobble

A few weeks ago, I saw a programme on Channel 4, in which Heston Blumenthal, the celebrity chef, created a Victorian feast, the menu for which included a large cone-shaped green absinthe jelly. What was particularly striking about this colossal jelly was its “wobble”.Mr Blumenthal understood that the fun of jelly (millions of under-tens will confirm this) is that, unlike any other food, it wobbles. A jelly without a wobble is just a sweet, sticky mess and realising this he made the wobble an integral part of his creation. How he perfected his wobble is another, eye-opening, matter.

So what has jelly got to do with printing on plastic?

Believe it or not, in our line of business, how you create the perfect wobble is something we have to consider on a regular basis. The shelf wobbler has become a staple part of point-of-sale/POP displays over the years, being relatively cheap to produce and highly visible in cluttered supermarket aisles. We can easily print a high quality full colour image and cut the plastic to an interesting shape, but it is how you get that little plastic arm to wobble just enough that has almost become a science in its own right.

Those of you with a scientific/mathematical bent can probably write an equation to solve the problem once and for all, but for mere mortals the following factors have to be taken into consideration…

1. The size of the wobbler head
2. The length of the wobbler arm
3. The thickness, rigidity and type of plastic
4. The type of “wobble” you are trying to achieve
5. Single or two-piece construction

Put an oversized head on a too thin piece of plastic and your wobbler becomes a dangler! Make the plastic too thick and the wobbler becomes a lethal weapon; a horizontal blade protruding from the shelving, waiting to slice anyone who inadvertently happens to venture too close!

For us, it comes down to knowledge, experience and trial-and-error, developing an understanding of which combination of material, size and rigidity will create the perfect wobble.

As with all things of this nature, my advice would be….ask an expert.

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