Unique Substrates:Attraction at First Sight

Eye-catching graphics on a package almost guarantee that a product will sell, especially in the point-of-purchase (POP) segment of the business. Printers who work with clients in this area of the market are always striving to find new attractive substrates on which to print. A variety of vendors offer glow-in-the-dark, holographic, plush and metallized-looking films for printers to use when printing promotional items or stickers and labels for their clients.

“These products create a dramatic backdrop for printing,” noted Sam Covello, product manager at FLEXcon (www.flexcon.com) in Spencer, Mass. “We do a lot of one-on-one visits with printers to show them new films/vinyls, and how to promote them to clients.”

Pressure-sensitive film applications range from simple die-cut letter and holiday/seasonal decorations, to sophisticated promotional decals and game board pieces. A permanent adhesive assures that the sticker will adhere to a variety of surfaces, explained Covello. “Printers who are working with clients in the fast food industry or with sports companies or high-end stores, or even the local doughnut shop, can use our products.” He added that the company’s products are mainly used when printing on solvent inkjet printers, but that all films may be used for offset printing as well, as long as a topcoat is applied.

FLEXcon’s selection of possibilities range from an endless spectrum of brilliant colors, to an extensive array of specialty options like metallics, holographics and plush, velvet-like surfaces. The plush print product is a flexible vinyl that offers the texture and feel of suede. PLUSHprint is a 4.0-mil flocked white vinyl that is soft, conformable and crush resistant. The precision cut, flocked-rayon fibers of the film provide a smooth print-receptive surface for uniform printability. It is designed for detailed spot-color flexographic printing via water or UV inks.

“One printer in Minneapolis used our plush print product for an ad for a cell phone and was extremely happy with it,” Covello said. Other popular products this year are holographics and films that give the appearance of a metal-brushed look.

FLEXcon’s PRISMcal Silver Rainbow vinyl is a 2.4-mil brilliant, eye-catching, light diffracting metallized vinyl film that is available in patterns—Rainbow and 1/4-inch Mosaic. A versatile general-purpose pressure-sensitive acrylic adhesive provides a permanent bond to a variety of surfaces. It is backed with a 94-lb. premium grade liner, and is printable non-topcoated with solvent and UV screen inks. Top coatings are available for compatibility with flexo and offset inks.

Catalina Graphic Films (www.catalinagraphicfilms.com) also presents its customers with films and vinyls that can be used to capture colorful graphics for a unique looking product. The Calabasas Hills, Calif. company finds in-store retail signage and wall graphics popular applications this year. Its products are used in a wide variety of niche applications printed by almost all disciplines including digital, screen, offset, flexo and gravure.

“Our thick vinyls can support a heavy ink load and are perfect for anybody doing in-store displays and promotions,” noted Tom Reid, executive vice president. Big box retailers, such as Lowe’s, are a good target for this type of product packaging. “The printed fake windows in the store, the decorative borders for a kid’s room—all of these types of temporary items keep your customers coming back for more every six months or so,” he added.

Covello agreed that “anything sparkly in a store attracts customers and increases product sales.” For example, floor graphics in a supermarket grab a shopper’s eye and get them to notice a product they may have never bought or even heard of. And Reid noted that full-size wall graphics of sports players or rock stars also have a huge impact in a retail store.

Catalina’s holographic films are clear, embossed films available in various patterns, and are metallized to create 3-D and prismatic patterns. The resulting special effects create eye-catching signage such as decoratives, posters, children’s toys, game cards, labels and lettering on banners.

The company’s Wall Graphics are used for highly effective advertisements and promotions. With an ultra removable and reusable adhesive, it can be applied to smooth and most painted walls (flat, non-textured walls only). It comes in a clear and white vinyl, and can be top-coated and non top-coated for offset, screen and digital printing.

Joe Formosa, holographic business manager at Vacumet Corp., (www.vacumet.com), a Franklin, Mass. producer of vacuum-metallized plastic film, papers and holographic substrates, said a client he has worked with over the years had a lot of success printing fish food labels that gave the appearance of scales of a fish. “The look of holographic papers is very exotic. If a printer works with a great designer, or uses one of our designers, the end result is a great product to sell,” he said. Because these papers cost four times more than traditional white paper, the added service of a graphic designer and a better product means you can mark it up accordingly.

Formosa noted that enhancing annual reports is a good place to a start when using this product. “Since our holographic paper provides a background effect, it can still be further enhanced with all convention printing techniques. This means, in addition to printing with four-color process inks, our papers can be enhanced with hot and cold foil stamping treatments, including metallic colors, metallic finishes, holographic treatments, metallic inks and UV matte and high gloss finishes, either all-over or in spot treatments. Basically, any way that ink and paper are enhanced today can be combined with our holographic paper,” he said.

Vacumet’s HoloPRISM holographic paper and plastic features unique, illuminating effects. When combined with print graphics these effects generate instant shelf appeal. Available in a variety of patterns, HoloPRISM paper and plastic can be slit, laminated or backed with adhesive. It can also be sheet cut and embossed. Formosa noted that the company sells in quantities of 15,000 - 25,000 sheet ranges, but can fulfill smaller orders—like 2,000 sheets—depending on the size.

According to Vacumet, HoloPRISM is an environmentally superior alternative to foil. The metallizing process used to create HoloPRISM holographic paper represents a 97 percent energy savings over foils. Metallized paper is produced by applying a lacquer (polymer) coating to specially selected base papers. The lacquer-coated paper for Vacu-Brite products is then metallized in a sealed vacuum chamber; for HoloPRISM products, a second processing step is performed followed by metallization. An ultra-thin aluminum layer is evaporated onto the coated paper to achieve the desired gloss and reflectivity. Following the metallization process, the paper is prime-coated to prepare the surface for printing, and moisturized to stabilize moisture content and achieve good lay-flat performance. The base papers used range from 28 to 110 pounds per ream (3,000 sq.ft.). Only one to three ounces of aluminum per ream are used to produce the metallized layer. By comparison, up to 15 pounds of aluminum are used to produce foil laminates, according to Vacumet.

For printers who would like to know more about these products and how to market them to their clients, manufacturers are accessible and willing to share ideas and examples of how to enhance a common printed product.

Dissolvable Label Stock

For customers wishing to avoid the time-consuming hassle of label removal, MACtac Printing Products has developed a label stock that completely dissolves in water—face, adhesive and all.

The dissolvable label serves a number of application purposes, particularly in the areas of food service and health care where label use is often mandatory, but removal may be difficult or forgotten. Labeled containers can be put directly into dishwashers or boiling water without the possibility of labels clogging drains or contaminating food.

“Adding water dissolvable label stock to our product mix helps us address the specific issue of label removal, which has been a problem for some of our customers,” said Jim Kisthardt, product manager, MACtac.

The product features a dissolvable uncoated, 40-lb. face stock and MACtac’s MP332 acrylic emulsion adhesive, and a 2.5-mil super calendared kraft liner.

For more information or a sample, e-mail MACtac.Americas@bemis.com or call 800-255-9733.