“We take the analytical of instrumentation, and Richard’s knowledge of prepress and design, and develop the color communication system and design tools,” Geeves reports. “We try to take the mystery out of metallic inks.”
Geeves says he believes many print service providers think metallic is just another color, not fully understanding what it can do for them. The technology is so new that they aren’t fully aware of the entire range of possibilities.
“What they’re doing is looking at it and saying, ‘I can make this silver,’” he says. “What they don’t understand is you can make hundreds of metallic colors using that silver. What most providers do today is use that silver and print silver, solid or through a tonal range. What Roland and Mimaki allow them to do is create up to 500 colors, using their RIP technology.”
Geeves says his company’s technology can create 250 metallic colors, all with luster, and also create effects merging, say, a metallic green into a metallic red. “We can do metallic gradations between colors with those mouse clicks inside Illustrator,” he says. “Roland and Mimaki give you 500-some colors, but don’t do the merging. They’re vector, while we’re vector, mixing, and images.”
If there is a downside, it’s that using metallic inks has an impact on printer speeds and productivity. That’s because most print heads are designed to run down the silver, let it dry, and then apply the CMYK, Geeves reports.
“That does reduce the speed,” he says.
Like Gardino, Geeves sees inviting opportunities opening up through the use of metallic inks on machines that can produce prototypes, mock-ups and short production runs. Consumer product companies, he says, are interested in doing short-run production of packages, putting the packages on the shelf and seeing how they look. “The kind of printers I mentioned are nice, because in the concept stage you can do some type of preliminary run, rather than a full production run, and determine what reaction these metallic colors get,” he says.
The technology is also excellent for producing car wraps that feature unique designs and really stand out, Geeves says. The same goes for wraps of MP3 players, iPhones and iPads and, indeed, anything that needs a differentiating appearance. ColorLogic has even wrapped its laptop computers, garnering amazed and curious reactions from customers. “At trade shows, we’ve made designs that can go around iPhones and iPads,” he says. “That’s what the world is about. It‘s about individualism and standing out, which is what people want.”
Geeves echoes Gardino’s assessment that the technology particularly lends itself to producing mockups of packaging and labels for products like perfume and cosmetics that heavily utilize metallic imagery. “What’s really neat is when you see the prints coming off,” he says. “We get really excited...It’s a great door opener with prospective clients, letting them visualize the possibilities.”
Why have metallic inks surged in the last year? Gardino answers that question with his own: “Why did white come out?” The answer to that question is that the print industry asked for the technology, challenged the developers to respond, and the developers came through, he says.
“It was the exact thing with metallic inks. End users are very creative people. You give them a tool like this, and they can figure out how to use it. It might take them a while to figure out the killer apps, but some of them could make a living on it. It’s a little more tricky. But it’s the kind of thing where the key is the creativity of the end user.”