This article was contributed by Dr. Mark Bohan, vice president, Technology and Research, Printing Industries of America, who is presenting “Jazzing Up Your Brand with Cool Varnishes, Inks, and Substrates” at the 2013 Color Management Conference, December 7–10, in Phoenix, AZ.

The communications industry today is highly competitive with different message forms used to communicate with customers from mass media and electronic communications to printed material. In recent years we’ve seen many new technological developments to enhance the impact of printed material visually, as well as addressing our other senses, like touch and smell.  These developments also allow print to interact with electronic devices.

With these new approaches, brands and companies can differentiate their products to increase customer awareness and satisfaction. I have the great pleasure of witnessing many of these new technologies in product demonstrations, trade shows, open houses, and from visits to printers using the different solutions. I look forward to sharing these findings with you in this session at the 2013 Color Management Conference this December in Phoenix, AZ.

Here is a list of ten different technologies* your company can use to differentiate your product:

  1. Raised coatingsMGI (raised coating)
    Produced inline on an offset or digital printing press, raised coatings create textures that can be from one micron to well in excess 100. New solutions offline allow great register to the pre-printed product and can introduce secondary sparkling or metallic effects, for instance.
  2. Lenticular printing
    Introduce depth and movement with images produced on lenticular lenses. Interlace the images and print using many different print processes.
  3. Metallic effects
    Color Logic (metallic effects)Make the print shiny, be it through the use of metallic inks, substrates, or the introduction of foiling in the production. This can easily be designed and visualized to go mainstream.
  4. Scented coating
    Mimic the smell of the product or location with scents in either a coating or ink. Whatever your desire, there will be the scents available to use!
  5. 3D texture with inkjet
    Build up a 3D image using flatbed inkjet, create a wood-paneling effect, reproduce an old master, or create highly personalized wall coverings.
  6. Reticulated coatings
    Create that special look by using coatings that do not fully flow on the substrate producing a textured feel to the coated area.
  7. Thermochromic inks
    The temperature changes and so does the color—have your drink tell you when it’s ice cold!
  8. Laser diecutting
    Using lasers to create individualized patterns in printed sheets, these can vaporize the substrate to provide great detail and impact.
  9. Inks for thermoformingEFI (inks for thermoforming)
    Print it on a flat surface and then use thermoforming to create three-dimensional items in many different run lengths—personalize each of the items with digital.
  10. Fluorescent coatings and inks
    Either as a spot or flood, this will fluoresce under different lighting conditions; it could be for security of a ticket or to make the customer feel special!
    And finally, by adding additional components it is possible to add value to the customer, just one of many possible examples would be …
  11. Near-field communication
    Printed materials interact with electronic communication tools, such as a smartphone, for items such as smart posters and packaging.

I invite you to come to the Color Management Conference and get a great opportunity to see and evaluate the different solutions and techniques available—it is sure to excite! For details, just visit