Until now, three finishing techniques have been used for applying a true metal gloss to paper or board: full-surface metal deposition, hot stamping or cold foil transfer integrated into offset printing. Thanks to the new Digital Metal process from Kurz, there’s now an alternative technique that offers an exceptionally cost-effective method of metallic decoration, even for one-off printing – Digital Metal, a combination of digital printing and transfer of a metallic layer.
For metallic gloss in lot sizes of one
Digital Metal has the following advantages: Since it does not require an engraved hot stamping die, and job changeovers can be performed simply and easily at the computer, this process is suitable for small finishing jobs. Even serialised elements such as numbering or personalisation can be implemented. Samples and proofs, for example for cold foil applications, can be produced cost-effectively and with digital printing quality using Digital Metal.
And here’s how the metallic effect is achieved in the digital printing process: First the desired design is printed on to the substrate using either toner or liquid toner. Next the Digital Metal foil, which has been specially developed for this process and comprises a metallised lacquer layer and a PET carrier, is transferred on to the preprinted material. The carrier foil is then released in the following step. The metallised decorative layer now adheres to the preprinted areas on the substrate. These decoration steps are then followed by digital printing and, if required, lacquering.
For sheet- and web-fed digital printing
The Digital Metal foil is suitable for use with both sheet-fed and web-fed digital printing. It can be overprinted with UV or conventional digital printing inks, allowing a large variety of metallic colours to be generated. When combined with overprinting, a wide range of half-tone effects can be achieved. Thanks to its clean release properties, Digital Metal can be used for large areas as well as for filigree designs and fine cutouts.
The foil can be transferred as a half-tone image or full-tone area.
A specific advantage of Digital Metal over full-surface metallisation is that the foil can be applied to specific areas only. Any necessary white areas, for example to provide space for barcodes, can simply be created by means of cutouts, eliminating the need for white overprinting. And when light, clear pastel tones are required, creating cutouts in the Digital Metal foil also leads to better results than overprinting metallised areas.
The process can be used to decorate printed products with a wide variety of metallic inks, as well as to produce holographic effects. In addition to the base foil, Digital Metal DT-H (Silver and Gold), Kurz offers a Digital Diffraction variant with diffractive continuous designs, and a Digital Holo variant with holographic scatter images.
Broad application scope
This innovative Kurz process extends the range of available printing finishing processes, and offers numerous cost-effective options for visual enhancement. Firstly, Digital Metal is suitable for a large number of applications because the coating adheres well to conventional toners, which themselves adhere to a wide variety of substrates.
Secondly, Digital Metal offers viable alternatives to metallised paper and board when combined with overprinting, half-tones and/or fine lines. Digital printing can be a cost-effective option for example, for the customised decoration of non-food packaging, self-adhesive labels, labels for the beverage industry, greeting cards or photographic books.