Lenticular printing is becoming more and more popular within wide-format printers, according to Miller, especially those who use a flatbed wide-format printing machine. In the past, lenticular flatbed printing was difficult due to the relatively low resolution of flatbed printers. The latest generation of flatbed printers has much higher resolution capabilities than was previously available. “This development, combined with the versatility of UV inks, makes direct-to-lens flatbed lenticular printing a viable option for many projects,” said Miller.
Inca Digital Printers
The Inca Spyder and Inca Onset S20 are both capable of printing white, in addition to CMYK, while the Onset S20 is also capable of offering a spot varnish effect. “This is not produced by printing a coat of varnish, but by layering the areas that are to appear as gloss in a different pass than the other portions of the artwork, and subjecting them to a different drying time,” reported Heather Kendle, director of marketing, Inca Digital Printers, Cambridge, UK.
Kendle noted that because Inca Digital presses offer vacuum tables for tight registration, all Inca printers are capable of offering lenticular work. Lenticular projects require printers with exceptional accuracy. The volume and accuracy of the inkjet drop on an Inca Digital printer enables printing onto 10-40 lenticule per inch (lpi) material commonly used in wide-format printing. “For example, an Inca Spyder press uses either small 10 or 28 picoliter drops, which, when combined with Inca software and highly tuned engineering, enables more lenticular ‘flips’ to be achieved and additional images to be seen than other flatbed equipment,” said Kendle. “As a result, printers can now produce excellent lenticular results with relative ease.”
Kendle said spot varnish or gloss effects allow a printer to highlight certain areas of artwork and this requires a printer capable of offering gloss/varnish, as well as a print provider capable of providing design/prepress expertise to create a gloss layer. “This allows a print provider to charge extra for design time and for specialty printing—along with the ability to differentiate itself,” she explained. “In the same way, lenticular is still very specialized work, and allows a print provider to differentiate its services with high-quality artwork that can command higher profit margins.”
Kendle said that while spot colors are of interest, as color management provides greater color accuracy and viable specialty ink sets provide a wider spectral gamut, there will be less demand for spot colors and more attention to maintaining a single ink set, such as hexachrome, which is capable of producing nearly all spot (corporate colors).
Océ North America
The Océ Arizona 350 XT and 350 GT UV flatbed printers offer a white-ink option that can be added at the factory or in the field. This option enables underprinting for non-white media or objects, overprinting for backlit applications on transparent media and/or printing white as a spot color.
“Underprinting white ink provides a base for non-white surfaces upon which color can be added, giving users the ability to expand their range of offerings to include specialty applications,” says Randy Paar, display graphics product manager, Océ North America, Trumbull, CT. “Overprinting white ink provides a diffusion layer for backlit applications that will be viewed from the unprinted side, enabling users to produce high-quality backlit images for point-of-purchase applications.” The ability to also print white ink as a spot color enables white features of images to be highlighted for greater effect.
The white-ink implementation in the Océ Arizona printers enables users to specify how white ink is applied: first, last or in-between colors; as a spot color or as a flood layer; and in one or two layers. This gives users the flexibility to create a wide range of applications on a variety of surfaces.
“PSPs see how this option can enable them to increase their offerings by being able to print on a wider range of media—not just white paper or white boards, but off-the-shelf pre-manufactured items,” explains Paar. “Some of these applications can be considered premium applications, which can net a higher margin for the shop with minimal capital investment.”
Paar believes print providers should explore what products they can produce with their equipment to provide better returns. “Printing ceiling tiles, tabletops, custom furnishings, etc.—these can be sold at a premium to maximize profitability,” he said.