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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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Custom Printing: Vivid3D UV and Foil Embellishments

A short while ago I wrote a PIE Blog article about “Sleeking,” a digital commercial printing embellishment process that allows you to add foil to a printed product without making a metal die (hence saving money and time, as well as allowing unlimited personalization). I also discussed hot and cold foil stamping as well as the Scodix process and Vivid3D (which in my opinion produce similar, striking effects).

As a happy accident yesterday, a Vivid3D brochure arrived in the mail. So now I can share with you my opinions on the visual, aesthetic qualities of this process, which I may be using for a client’s upcoming flooring-sample binder. Hopefully, this discussion will enhance the more technical information I shared in the prior article on Sleeking, hot foiling, and cold foiling.

What I Received in the Mail

Anything I might want to know about Vivid3D, at this point, is contained in this single-page flyer. The front of this marketing piece displays 3D type, 3D art, and background coatings in silver, gold, 4-color builds, and holographic imagery. Each rendering of the four Vivid3D logos and logo marks is accompanied by notations describing how the effect was achieved.

The back of the flyer is equally important to me since it lists facts about the Vivid 3D equipment (and the integrated Konica Minolta KM-1 UV inkjet press), ranging from its 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution to the maximum sheet size, maximum paper thickness, etc.

One of the things I see right off the bat (on the sample side of the flyer) is what looks like embossing. The type for each of the four Vivid3D logos is raised, as is the splash (water imagery) logo mark. However, unlike traditional embossing (done with a metal embossing die), when you turn the single-page flyer over, there is no indentation behind the raised print on the front of the paper.

(Traditional embossing/debossing dies work with pressure. The embossing press forces each half of the two-piece die assembly against one or the other side of the paper, yielding a raised image on one side and correspondingly lowered image on the other side. In this case, there is no corresponding indentation on the back of the paper, since Vivid3D is an additive manufacturing process that digitally builds up polymer layers on the press sheet. Actually, for such a two-sided flyer this is a benefit, because the lack of an indentation affords a pristine surface on the back of the sheet for artwork and copy.)

All four sets of typescript in the Vivid 3D logos are crisp and attractive. They have more of a sense of being thick ink, in contrast to the more defined edges of traditional hot foil stamping (also done with a metal die). Another way of saying this is that there’s no chance that the edges of the foil will peel up because there is no gold or silver foil adhered to the substrate with heat and pressure.

Moreover, since the Vivid3D logo includes a splash of water, the four logo treatments display various levels of depth. In one image, the water is flat, while in others there is more of a varied depth in the splash of water. In fact, in one of the logos, the highlights of the water are treated with silver over the light blue of the water. I can’t see how you could ever produce this kind of tight trapping (with one foil touching another) with traditional hot foil stamping.

Another logo treatment (both the logo type and the water splash logo mark) is holographic. The logo reflects a rainbow of colors as you move it back and forth under a good light.

The three remaining logo type treatments are, as noted before, presented in gold, silver, and a build of light and dark blue (presumably combining the printing of the Konica Minolta KM-1 UV inkjet press and the embellishment of Vivid3D). The process color treatment is bright, crisp: vivid, just as the company name suggests. If you look closely with a 12-power printer’s loupe, you can see the minuscule overlapping spots indicative of inkjet printing. In contrast, the silver and gold seem to be solid colors, brilliant but without the dithering effect of the light and dark blue colors.

Behind the logo treatments, the background presents a contrast (over black ink) between a raised gloss finish composed of random spots of various sizes and a matte background. When you run your hand across the page you feel the raised dots, a little like grains of sand. In good light you can see these random grains against the undercoating of a matte finish.

Notations on this sheet, beside the four Vivid3D logos, describe the multi-level raised type and imagery as “multi-level sculpted UV.” That is, the Konica Minolta KM-1 UV inkjet press and Vivid3D embellishing process build up the varied levels (the word “sculpted” refers to the multiple, nuanced levels of the 3D effect). The notations also reference the PMS colors the digital custom printing process matched and whether the effect is two-dimensional or three-dimensional.

So, overall, between the logo type treatments, treatment of logo images, and descriptions, this side of the flyer gives you a comprehensive view of what the Konica Minolta KM-1 UV inkjet press and Vivid3D can offer a designer or art director.

Benefits of Vivid3D

If you flip the flyer over, the custom printing and coating descriptions of the equipment are informative and intriguing.

  1. Everything is digital: no dies are necessary. This means you can produce an embossing, foiling, and UV coating effect for less money in a shorter time.
  2. You can print and embellish up to a 23” x 29” press sheet. This means the throughput (efficiency of the entire process) is respectable. Furthermore, given the large sheet size, you can produce larger custom printing projects on this equipment (like pocket folders, presumably).
  3. You can produce VDP (variable data printing). So every sheet that leaves the equipment can be entirely different from the prior sheet.
  4. Instant-drying UV inks allow for immediate use of any further post-press equipment.
  5. Paper thickness can range from .06 to .6mm on various textured press sheets including linen, canvas, synthetic, and more. So you can achieve a wide range of tactile effects just with the paper, even before embellishment.
  6. You can layer one foil over another. This is very unusual (or even extremely rare), and unusual products grab the reader’s attention.

The Takeaway

The takeaway is that digital printing OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are focusing on post-press work now (as opposed to just digital commercial printing), and are simulating the more traditional (labor-intensive and higher cost) methods of achieving tactile effects in custom printing work. In many cases these are almost completely indistinguishable from the products crafted on the older equipment, and at the same time they can be infinitely varied or personalized. This is good news indeed.

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