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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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Custom Printing: Pairing Lenticular Print with QR Codes

A few days ago my fiancee and I went shopping at a local clothing store. When we returned home, she tossed me an item of underwear (TC Edge) she had bought, and said, “Look at this.”

Although I planned to comment on the garment, what I saw immediately was that she had been referring to the two tags hanging from the lace: a playing card sized plastic lenticular print and a QR code printed in black ink on a round clothing tag.

The Lenticular Print

First, I’d like to describe the lenticular print. Then I will briefly explain the process used to make the tag.

The ridges (lenses) on this particular lenticular print are all vertical. Therefore, when you turn the card from side to side, you will see two different pictures depending on its orientation. For this item of clothing, the technology is ideal, since one photo shows the model fully clothed and the other photo shows her in only her undergarments.

The marketing tag line also changes: “First You See It…Then You Don’t.” The marketing copy references both the clothing to which it is attached and also the playful nature of the lenticular printing process. I think this works well, since people usually like a good play on words that can be taken in two ways.

What makes this technology operate is that two photos were taken, then sliced into minuscule vertical strips, then reassembled (interlaced)–all on a computer. The single resulting image was then printed on plastic that was then glued to the back of the lenticular lenses (the plastic covering sheet with the ridges). When you turn the plastic card in one direction, you see one of the images in its entirety through the side of the lenticular lenses facing that direction. (The lenses pull together all the strips of that particular image into a contiguous photo.) When you turn the card, you use the other side of the lens and you see the other image.

Lenticular commercial printing suppliers do not need to use this same approach for everything. They can also assemble, or interlace, multiple photos such that your eyes will see depth in a photographic scene rather than a change between two photos. Lenticular printers can also interlace more than two photos to create a brief (one second) movie displaying image motion rather than either a 3D effect or a switch between two images.

The QR Code

QR codes were not created to be the next great thing in multi-channel marketing. This was only a recent development. Actually, they were initially developed in the automotive parts industry in Japan due to the large amount of data they can contain compared to other barcodes.

You can identify a QR code by its square format and pixellated appearance. It often contains smaller squares at each (or many) of the four points of the square QR code. And unlike most postal barcodes and UPC codes, it is based on an X/Y grid (both vertical and horizontal rather than just horizontal), allowing for coding and transmitting a substantial amount of information.

When the QR code was first developed, it was great for cataloging automotive parts; now it has other uses in the field of marketing. More precisely, if you download into your camera-enabled smartphone an application that essentially makes it a scanner, you can point the camera at a QR code and be transported to a URL prepared for you by the marketer (in my fiancee’s particular case a clothing manufacturer).

You can actually be transported to any number of computer locations (such as online videos, product lists, and reviews), but what makes a direct connection to a website useful is that a marketer can use it to expand upon information on the clothing hang tag. A savvy customer can find a garment she likes, research it online, and then make the purchase. In essence, this is a point of purchase device that increases the likelihood of “conversion” (in this case the likelihood of a purchase).

Pairing the Lenticular Print with the QR Code

You get a lot of marketing muscle when you combine a QR code and a lenticular hang-tag. Here are some thoughts:

    1. You get movement. Anything that moves will catch the eye of any animal, be it your cat or you as a consumer. If it’s fun, or intriguing in some way, as this TC Edge undergarment hang tag is, it’s even more likely to catch the buyer’s eye.


    1. You get the synergy of custom printing blended with the Internet. You have the tactile benefits of the physical hang-tag (plus its ribbed texture, due to the lenticular lenses) combined with the unlimited depth of information on the Internet. Your potential customer has a commercial printing product to touch and read, but she also has additional access to buying information.


  1. You get all of this plus the selling qualities of the actual undergarment itself.

Sometimes it pays to venture out from all the thrift stores and enter a regular branded department store.

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