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The Wonderful World of UV Special Effects

(February 2012) posted on Tue Mar 20, 2012

Find out how you can use the latest generation of UV-curable inks and coatings to add value to signs, graphics, packaging, and other screen-printed applications.


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By Mike Young



The purpose and target
for special effects
Value-added features provide subtle, but distinctive, characteristics to a print and a unique boost in appearance to a sign, display, or product package, enabling it to stand head and shoulders above the rest. The aim is to draw immediate attention by an unspoken message, be remembered the longest, and, if required, entice viewers into an intended action.
Take five small, similar sized posters displayed together in a bookstore or travel agency, for instance. Other than the book covers’ graphics or vacation destinations’ sceneries, chances are none will particularly standout—that is, unless one had something visually compelling to attract viewers’ sensory interest more than the others (Figure 2), being mindful that real-life samplings provide more pronounced and accentuated characteristics of the added features.
Special-effect UV inks and coatings can help screen printers produce graphics that people literally want to see, touch, and feel—especially when the aesthetics are breathtaking in comparison to the status quo. While gaining more business is the obvious reason to take on such work, the underlying motive is clearly to improve the bottom line. The marketplace today is entrenched competitively in every measurable way, and more jobs are undertaken at ridiculously low margins—a practice unheard of recently.
To reverse this futile dilemma, it is good to know print buyers can be convinced to pay a premium to make their prints or products stand out in an eye-catching and pleasing way. Special effects can be the largest, or only, money-making part of the whole job, regardless of which printing process was originally used.
The markets for special effects are plentiful in general merchandise, posters, P-O-P/P-O-S displays, children’s products, reference books, digitally printed publications, greeting cards, calendars, catalogs/folders (Figure 3), advertisements, high-end/luxury labeling and packaging (Figures 4 and 5), audio-visual products, cosmetics and jewelry, and more.
In particular, combining value-added special effects with offset-, inkjet-, flexo-, or screen-printed graphics can land a printer in a rewarding and profitable niche that offers marketers, designers, and print buyers truly enhanced, unique-looking possibilities to make the initial difference—the only one that matters: increasing sales! Ultimately, special-effects packaging and labels carry their own enormous power of attraction and curiosity to excite consumers and drive desire for ownership.


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