By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Embellishment is a popular way to enhance a printed product, whether it be a card, box, or some other piece of marketing material. Metallic colors, glitter, spot UV coating, and embossing are all options.
Taking it a step further, when digital print is used for decoration purposes in industrial settings, embellishment reaches a new level. Combined with inkjet technology, glass, wood, labels, paper, and more are enhanced to create realistic pieces at a fraction of the cost of traditional manufacturing methods.
Before we go any further, it’s important to define embellishment when run in conjunction with a digital printer in a manufacturing/industrial setting. What is its purpose and more importantly, what are the benefits?
For many, embellishment is seen as a way to achieve greater profits and differentiate a company from the competition. “A print embellishment is anything done with hardware and/or software to the print output that helps to add more eye-catching micro-seconds of customer viewing time to the printed piece. The more unique a graphic appears, the likelier the target audience will engage in the experience and be moved to the call to action,” explains Bill Brouhle, solutions architect, digital print sales, Agfa.
“The technology is appealing owing to its ability to cut time to market, reduce proof times and tooling, and its capacity for innovative new designs. It also allows smaller brands to benefit from high-quality embellished labels with no minimum order,” adds Eli Mahal, head of HP Indigo labels and packaging marketing, HP Inc.
In industrial environments in particular, Paul Bolduc, president, Koenig & Bauer Kammann (US) Inc., says he would further define embellishment as “adding a process to a printing application that would otherwise be part of another manufacturing process.”
“If you want to take a very wide definition of embellishment that includes anything that makes the existing surfaces nicer you can also summarize digital décor and digital structure printing under that word,” argues Dr. Anke Pankoke, head of marketing/PR, Hymmen GmbH Maschinen- und Anlagenbau.
Popular Usage Case
A number of verticals and usage cases rely on digital embellishment capabilities from décor pieces like tiles, flooring, and wallcoverings to food and beverage markets.
Mahal says that HP Indigo has conducted studies that assessed ten to 15 percent of pressure-sensitive labels for packaging are embellished.
For packaging and product-type embellishments used in food and beverage as well as personal care verticals, these users look to enhancements like metallic colors and embossing to differentiate their products from the competition.
“With the latest advancements in inkjet technology, value is added through embellishments or special effects, thereby creating a full sensory experience for customers,” explains Brouhle.
In regards to décor, Pankoke admits that the flooring industry relies heavily on digital décor print techniques like Digital Lacquer Embossing by Hymmen.
“The furniture industry is not so deep into digital technologies yet, but it is starting and also in the building sector—for indoor and outdoor wall claddings—it is becoming more important,” he continues.
Examples of Embellishment
Metallic colors, glitter, spot UV coating, embossing, and security inks are popular examples of embellishment. When used correctly, they create tactile effects that mimic realistic features at a fraction of the cost.
For example, layering white ink can create a textural image of a brick wall. Referred to as tactile or three-dimensional (3D) elevated printing by Brouhle, this is a process in which a raised texture element is built into the print output by adding to the thickness of the ink layer.
“The height of the brick can be built with one white channel, with a second white channel used to create the texture of the mortar. Color would then be printed over the white. Layering ink gives the image the feel of a real brick wall, including the porous brick and the coarse mortar,” shares Brouhle.
Hymmen executes a similar technique with its Digital Lacquer Embossing where décor and structures are printed using different structure depths and gloss grades. “Our patented Digital Lacquer Embossing works like this. After digital print on the lacquered surface, you apply lacquer again. Before curing the digital print the embossing is applied. This is what creates the structures,” explains Pankoke.
Different gloss grades can also provide other illusions. “Adding gloss to elements of an image can create an emotional connection for viewers. For example, imagine a picture of a bottle of soda. Gloss varnish can take an image from ordinary to cool with water droplets that appear to be sweating. This makes the image come alive and appear more realistic, causing the viewer to look twice and connect with it,” comments Brouhle.
Embossing is another option. At Koenig & Bauer Kammann the company has created the ability to print an emboss onto a glass article that was previously not embossed. “The embossing on glass articles typically was manufactured into a glass mould. Designing and manufacturing the mold is expensive and labor intensive. Now we open this market to many new possibilities including shorter runs of embossed glass products for further customization of glassware,” notes Bolduc.
Inkjet technology continues to influence and change the way embellishments are applied, especially in manufacturing and industrial settings. Mahal expresses the feeling that digital technologies “have simplified the embellishment process in relation to conventional methods.”
With Hymmen’s successes as a strong indicator, Pankoke says the company is convinced that digital printing will “completely substitute analog printing in the long run.”
The next article in this two-part series looks at various inkjet devices that employ forms of embellishment.
Nov2021, Industrial Print Magazine