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Printing Industry Exchange ( 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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Printing Technology: NewPage’s Book on Interactive Print

Periodically I get a copy of This Is Ed from the NewPage Corporation, a paper manufacturer. I’m a voracious reader of anything related to printing technology, particularly when it’s free. And as a paper manufacturer, NewPage goes to great lengths to showcase its paper products through educational publications.

NewPage Book Showcases Interactivity of Print

The latest issue of NewPage’s This Is Ed, #15 Interactive Print focuses on the interactive nature of commercial printing, highlighting a number of current technologies you can incorporate into your design and print buying work to connect with, and communicate with, your audience.

NewPage identifies five elements that are essential to success in business communication: “attention, clarity, emotion, differentiation, and memory,” noting that:

“You want your messages to be noticed, then clearly and easily understood. You want to create a personal, emotional connection. You want to be perceived as different and better than your competition. And you want to be remembered when the time comes to buy.”

Mixing media, or “combin[ing] multiple communication channels to get the message out” most effectively and efficiently achieves the five goals NewPage has identified.

Techniques for Engaging the Reader

This Is Ed, #15 Interactive Print suggests a number of ways to utilize the interactive nature of custom printing. They fall into the following categories: diecutting, special inks, and interactions between print media and the Internet


On one of its page spreads, NewPage includes a brochure printing sample that mimics the design of an “S”-shaped, multi-unit couch using a diecut and folding pattern of squares laid out in the same “S”-shaped format as the couch.

Another page includes an illustration of a woman with bangs. Printed on a separate layer of paper, these bangs have been diecut so that you can lift one or more of them to reveal the woman’s face below.

A third page includes a spiral diecut of an orange peel. When you lift the spiral cut-out, you see the interior sections of the orange below.

In all of these examples, the reader does something to participate actively in the reading experience. The techniques benefit from the tactile nature of commercial printing, something digital-only media cannot replicate.

Using Special Inks

In a little pouch hooked onto the wire-O binding of This Is Ed, #15 Interactive Print, you will find what appears to be a blank booklet. It looks like a 3” x 3” paper folding dummy. However, when you take the booklet out into the sunlight, the “sunlight-sensitive inks” interact with the rays of the sun to reveal the art and text on its pages.

Another page in the book shows a printed magazine advertisement that uses “water reveal technology,” ink that becomes visible when exposed to water. It was the perfect metaphor for the MiO corporation’s process that adds “flavor and color to water without adding calories.” It is not only a good metaphor; it is also interactive custom printing. And the reader of This Is Ed, #15 Interactive Print can access a video of this process through the NewPage booklet, using a downloadable app.

Finally, the book includes a sample of thermochromatic inks. Depending on the ambient temperature, the page will appear to have been coated with dark gray ink, or it will be light gray and will reveal the text below. Touching the page with your finger will also leave lighter fingerprints where your body heat has temporarily affected the ink. Another example of interactivity—and a playful trick to engage the reader.

Blending Custom Printing and Digital Media

This Is Ed includes a number of examples of how print can act as a doorway to further information or a richer experience through the Web.

Pointing a smartphone at one page (after downloading an enabling app) will take you to images of older Lincoln automobiles as an adjunct to a Latcha + Associates booklet on the new Lincoln MKZ.

Another page of This Is Ed showcases a Magnetique application that allows you to scan a magazine image of a fashion item and then takes you to both product information and outlets for buying the item (using geolocation information). Such a marriage of commercial printing technology and digital media makes the buying process easier for the consumer while allowing the vendor to interact dynamically with the buyer. In this case, the printed page leads the reader through a portal to a digital experience and from there to a sale.

Why You Should Care

The NewPage booklet is one of many that paper merchants make available for free. I encourage you to take them up on their offer. Contact your paper merchant and make the study of commercial printing a lifelong endeavor. It will make your work more enjoyable, and I think you will find learning about all the new developments in the field to be quite exciting.

Moreover, the more you learn about cross channel marketing and the interaction between the Internet and print–as well as the options for interactive print–the more valuable you will be as a designer and/or print buyer.

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