Globally, the market for new postpress equipment could approach $5 billion this year, according to a study from market research/testing firm Smithers. Several finishing equipment suppliers were among more than 340 exhibitors in mid-February at the Packaging Innovations 2023 event in Birmingham, England. Recently (February 27-March 2), the print industry gathered in Switzerland for Hunkeler Innovationdays – the international event where more than 50 high-performance digital printing and finishing solutions will be exhibited.
When the ink (or toner) on paper is dry, often the fun of printed production has only just begun. Previously, we reported on print’s “special powers” and how strategic marketers keenly tune into end-customer’s user experiences (UX). So-called “embellishments,” specialty print applications can enhance the printed medium, making it “louder” and taking UX to the next level. Embellished finishing effects combine the science of touch with the power of print for a truly tactile UX.
Different shades of foil, metallic and non-metallic, are available, Chiappetta points out. “The production challenge is taking care not to print behind what is being [foil] stamped,” he notes, “because that could distort the image.”
Laminated products can be improved and increased with metalized foils and spot varnishing over digital toners. The Foliant line of industrial laminators features such foiling capabilities as an option. Distributed in North America by Graphco, Foliant’s value-added applications include everything from direct mail, posters and high-end product brochures to soft- and hard-cover books, photobooks, restaurant menus and even high-strength advertisement shopping paper bags.
Another postpress, offline technique involves UV, soft-touch laminates, which yield tactile, feathering effects. These are heatset and “reduce fingerprint smudges,” Chiappetta reports. Two other trends in finishing for 2023 may be more practical and functional than glamorous, he adds:
- Spot UV coatings still are popular. “They require using a plate and cost a little more, but the effect is stunning on contrasting paper.”
- Overall gloss laminates are effective at alleviating oily fingerprinting concerns on high-gloss applications.
Virtual Community for Digital “Embellishment”
A subgroup of the Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) has created an online forum for technical questions and resource sharing. In February, the Digital Embellishment Alliance (DEA) launched its “members only” website community to provide a comprehensive resource surrounding the growing digital embellishment segment of the printing industry. It includes a forum for members to ask technical questions as they pertain to digital embellishments and share experiences with project challenges and successes.
In addition, the community includes a section that allows members to become a part of specific DEA groups. For instance, members can choose between an Owner/Management group, an Operator’s group or a Design with Digital Embellishment group. As the community grows, “Meet Ups” will be scheduled for each group via Microsoft Teams, where experiences with digital embellishments can be shared. In addition, the site will include a Resource area for studies commissioned by FSEA on the impact of print embellishments and a recent study on the sustainability of foil decorated paper/board.
“The use of digital embellishments continues to grow but still is very new to many who are designing for digital embellishments on print or operating the equipment,” stated Jeff Peterson, FSEA executive director. “Our hope is that the formation of the DEA and the website community will help create an educational platform for all of those involved or looking to become involved with the processes.”
To learn more about the Digital Embellishment Alliance, the DEA website community and how to join, visit www.fsea.com and click on the “Digital Embellish” tab or contact Jeff Peterson at email@example.com or call 785.271.5816.
The Digital Embellishment Alliance (DEA) provide targeted benefits related to accelerating the mainstream adoption of digital embellishment technologies, including standardization initiatives, designer outreach, trend analysis and brand education. https://fsea.com/digital/