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Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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Archive for the ‘Holograms’ Category

Holograms vs. Lenticular Prints: Labels, Stickers, Decals, and Pressure Sensitive Products

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

What is a hologram and what is a lenticular print? How can you distinguish between the two, and when is it appropriate to print one vs. the other?

Holograms

Holograms are produced with special lasers. They are also best seen under special lighting conditions. Without illumination with lasers or precisely directed lights, they can appear a bit colorless. However, under the proper conditions, they can be dramatic, presenting on a two-dimensional surface a precise rendition of a three-dimensional scene (without the need for special 3D glasses). As you move around and look at holograms from different directions, you can see the objects within the images from different perspectives, as though you were actually walking around physical objects.

Interestingly enough, if you tear a hologram into ten or twenty pieces, you will still have a complete image within each fragment of the original hologram.

Holograms Used in Printing

I have actually seen holograms used in labels, stickers, decals, and pressure sensitive products. However, if you look at your driver’s license or your credit cards, you may also see what looks like transparent foil reflecting a rainbow of colors. My driver’s license, for instance, has “MVA” (Maryland Vehicle Association) printed across the front of the license numerous times. You can only see it under bright light, and then it takes on a multicolored appearance.

These holograms are specifically used to thwart forgery and tampering (or at least to make any tampering or alteration evident). They’re also used on software packages, banknotes, passports, stock certificates, and anywhere else that identity theft or the theft of intellectual or financial property might occur. In recent years traditional offset, as well as flexographic and even digital, printers have become versed in this custom printing technology.

And, of course, holographic printing can be used in the production of labels, stickers, decals, and pressure sensitive products as well.

Lenticular Printing

Perhaps a more appropriate method for reproducing moving images is lenticular printing, which may also be used in printing labels, stickers, decals, and pressure sensitive products.

In lenticular printing, digital files are specially prepared and printed onto lens material (plastic composed of “lenticules” or special lenses). Essentially your commercial printing vendor prints a different image (of a series of two or three images) in an interlaced pattern on the lens material such that when you move the plastic, you will see movement or depth (i.e., background, middleground, and foreground) within the image.

If your lenticular print will be displayed on a wall (as a poster or back-lit image), the lenticules will be printed such that a side to side movement will show the moving image. This way, when you walk past the sign, you will see the image change. In contrast, if your lenticular print will be hand held (attached to a postcard or brochure), the movement will be triggered with an up and down motion (rather than a side to side movement) of the lenticular print.

Think of a lenticular print as a high-tech “flip book”: that is, a series of similar drawings on consecutive sheets of paper. When the edge of the pages are flipped, the image seems to move. The more images in the book, the more dramatic the movement will be. So by including a series of progressive images reflecting small increments of movement, you can actually simulate motion within the lenticular print.

Lenticular prints are produced on a traditional four-color offset press and are therefore ideally suited to printing postcards and labels, stickers, decals, and pressure sensitive products. They are also quite durable. You can even send a lenticular postcard through the mail (i.e., without an envelope) and not damage the image.

Similarities and Differences Between Holograms and Lenticular Printing

So, in short, both holograms and lenticular prints can show movement and depth. Holograms need special lighting to be perceived in all their glorious detail and color. However, they’re great for security documents to prevent forgery or tampering. In contrast, lenticular prints are durable and need no special lighting to reflect their movement or depth.

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