What makes a consumer pick up a book, select a carton from a shelf or look twice at a poster, annual report or catalogue? Is it the texture they can’t help touching, or the shimmer of foil that catches the eye, or the perfect quality binding? Shaun Blumberg, MD of Press Products, believes all these elements are key components in any print campaign.
‘The print industry has become grossly competitive, making innovation vital in staying ahead of the game,’ he says. ‘And, with digital print swooping in, variable data becoming the norm and consumers wanting to feel special – especially the “me generation” wanting their individuality recognised – marketers, advertising agencies and brands are expecting PSPs (print service providers) to help take campaigns further by thinking outside the box and giving consumers something memorable, something that builds brand loyalty.’
It’s Shaun’s contention that PSPs need to think beyond print quality, turnaround times and pricing; they need to extend product and service offerings, to build relationships and find novel ways of making a printed project stand out on-shelf or in the corporate environment.
Print finishing is one way to achieve these goals, especially when a comprehensive selection of options is available in-house. Added benefits for printers is improving their bottom lines by offering customers an end-to-end service, faster turnaround times, a greater degree of quality control and better security.
‘With proper equipment, trained staff and quality control procedures, PSPs can eliminate costly reprints and ensure customers’ print jobs remain in a secure environment,’ Shaun maintains. ‘They’ll also achieve faster turnaround times because they’re not at the mercy of third party production schedules, and can control the final stages of the job by offering a complete basket of finishing options, such as specialised binding, or specialty foils and lamination films.’
All about foiling
Many PSPs have experienced the stumbling blocks associated with expensive foiling dies and foiling and lamination being restricted mainly to lithographic printing. However, according to Shaun, the latest digital print finishing technologies are opening up new prospects for commercial and packaging printers.
One such technology is foiling using variable data printing, creating opportunities to add more value and enabling shorter customised runs of packaging with consumers’ names stamped in gold, pushing the boundaries of personalised marketing campaigns.
Called Sleeking, this trade-marked process is an on-demand foiling system for short-run digital applications. Foil is transferred to paper via pressure and heat, specifically bonding the foil to digital inks or toners.
Neither dies nor extensive make-ready times are required, allowing the application of budget-friendly special effects in just three steps. For example, a metallised gold or silver background, a holographic impression in spot locations or full coverage, or a simple gloss or matte finish.
Although conventional foil stamping requires more steps than this digital equivalent, it offers an array of options for meeting brand owners’ needs for adding luxury and shelf appeal.
Hot-stamping foil is created with the design etched on to a metal die and stamped at high temperature, while cold foil can be more convenient and cost-effective as it uses a printing plate instead of a die. The latter is most commonly applied to products that call for a strong shelf presence, such as cartons and labels.
For refractive movement and depth that adds unmatched value, holographic foils are a great choice for promotional materials, greeting cards, plastic products, document identification and security printing. Lastly, there’s coding and pigment foil, ideal for data coding where legibility and permanence are vital – such as food, beverage and pharmaceutical products.
What about lamination?
Lamination adds strength, rigidity and protection, increasing the life of any printed media. It also enhances the appearance of print by deepening and brightening the ink colours. According to Shaun, the latest trend is using speciality laminating films to play with textures such as velvet, linen, sand or leather – giving consumers a different sensory experience and increasing their perception of a brand’s quality and value.
Metallised laminating films are another popular choice for laminating to board and then overprinting for packaging applications such as cartons. The silver or gold background provides rich aesthetic appeal while the top printable surface provides excellent ink adhesion.
A specialty lamination film coupled with superior design and perfect quality printing creates a full sensory experience, especially when complemented by additional finishing processes such as foil or a spot UV varnish.
Although there’s a multitude of lamination films to choose from, it’s important to note that laminating over digital print requires a specialised digital lamination film with a higher rate of adhesion than standard lamination films used for litho printing.
When calculating the value of in-house short-run lamination, Shaun advises PSPs to consider the amount of time saved and additional profit margin achieved by boosting their print-on-demand divisions with novel capabilities for shorter print runs. ‘For example, if printers couple this with Sleeking (digital foiling) and invest in the latest trends, they’ll be pushing barriers and offering customers a contemporary world of digital finishing,’ he notes.
Considering the advancement of special effects, the ever-increasing brand desire for a premium consumer experience, and today’s short-run print technology, the growing popularity and appeal of foils and laminating films are set to continue.
The in lamination
In addition to the widely used gloss and matte lamination films, Press Products MD, Shaun Blumberg, maintains that these four speciality laminating films and techniques are creating valuable and enduring applications for printing, packaging and labelling.
- Velvet texture or soft touch: Although most regular print elements appeal to sight, the addition of a soft touch finish allows a distinctive quality to be shared through touch. A velvety-soft feel thermal lamination film is applied to printed materials and works well for luxury brands as it creates an aura of quality with an attractive tactile look and feel.
- Linen:This speciality lamination film that adds all the regular benefits of thermal lamination plus a premium linen grain texture embossed into the film is best applied to cards, game boxes and professional artwork.
- Scuff-proof: A scuff-proof lamination film can prevent abrasions and other damage to printed material. With a matte finish and top coating for added support, it can be hot-foil stamped or spot UV-coated after any application.
- Holographic: A laminate for adding visual appeal to attract attention and highlight elements of artwork on packaging, print or label.