All about inks – the only glossary you need

Speciality inks and their functions – we’ve summarised the most popular inks to compile a simple glossary.

Abrasive inks are principally a functional coating. For example, the rough phosphorus-containing surface is used to light matches. It is a highly opaque ink, available in dark brown and black with textures ranging from fine to coarse.

Adhesives can also be applied to parts of a layout. A huge range of adhesives are available, from Post-It adhesive to strong glues. They can be also be printed double-sided.

Blackboard inks create a surface on which chalk can be used to write and draw. They are available in different tones, and have the same qualities as a school blackboard. The chalk can be wiped off again afterwards and reapplied.

Fading inks become invisible after time.

Ferrous inks contain iron, allowing the magnets to be attached to them. They are often used for displays.

Fluorescent inks are much brighter than conventional inks in daylight. Effective in overcast weather and at dusk, they are also used for safety clothing.

Hydrochromatic inks change their colour under the influence of humidity. Perfect for creating colour changing clothing, art and accessories, these inks can be used to obscure messages, colours and text.

Light-reflecting inks reflect more incoming light than normal inks, so they are easier to see in the dark, although their effect is not as strong as that of self-adhesive reflective foil.

Luminescent inks are invisible in daylight, and require strong UV light to be seen. They are used largely for product protection.

Electric-luminescent inks start to glow when placed in an electric field. In daylight they are invisible.

Metallic inks are available in gold, silver, bronze, and various colours.

Mirror inks produce a mirror-like effect comparable to laminated metallic foil or foil stamping with silver foil. The effect works on smooth substrates and as a surface decoration on transparent plastics and glass.

Piezochromatic inks are white inks that turn irreversibly black under mechanical strain. The dyes shift the frequency of light they absorb. It is often used in packaging of delicate materials to indicate if the package underwent any pressure during transportation. A reversible system can be used to prevent banknote forgeries.

Phosphorescent inks glow in the dark. Printed on papers or labels, they are used for the instructions on how to use a fire extinguisher in some countries. The inks shine in the dark, convenient when electricity can’t be supplied. They can be used on printed pieces such as leaflets or cards. The ink changes in the dark and express a mysterious quality.

Photochromic inks contain white or pastel-coloured pigments that become visible or change colour in daylight as the light level increases. The effect can be used as a UV warning device on labels and cards, ideal for summer promotions.

Printable protection foils can be applied to a part of a layout by screen printing, and peeled off later. The process is often used to protect mobile phone displays from scratching, but the foils can also be printed on paper.

Rub-off inks contain latex and can be rubbed or scratched off using a fingernail or coin. They are most widely used in lottery scratch-cards to mask numbers and symbols.

Thermochromic inks are temperature sensitive, changing colour, becoming transparent or colourless when a certain temperature is reached. They can change colour any number of times, but there are also pigments where the change is irreversible. An example is in the food industry, to indicate whether the cold chain has been broken.

Water-soluble inks can be washed off with water.

Are you looking to source inks? Our products are manufactured in Europe and developed for print applications, suitable for use with a wide range of equipment.

If you are looking to use these special effects on a  project we can put you in contact with our network of printers. And if you’ve worked on an interesting piece, or have a future project planned, then we would love to hear from you!

 

How to make your printed piece stand out with edge finishing

 

Edge finishing is another effective way of making your printed piece stand out. The cut edges of a book block, business card, or other printed material can be finished using a range of edge finishing processes. The edges can be stained or inked, the metallised layer of a foil can be applied, or can be embossed.

The edge is clamped and trimmed by about one millimetre to make it completely smooth. Foil or ink is then applied using one of several different techniques. Foil edges (gilt edges) are shiny, while stained edges appear matt. All edge finishes are also protection against dirt or dust.

Edges inked with UV ink

UV ink is applied to the edges in a special machine using a system of cylinders and hardened using UV light. This dries immediately so the ink produces an even coating and does not run into the block. This means the treated block can move onto the next phase straight away. The machine can handle blocks of any format up to a thickness of about 95mm. UV ink costs more than other edge finishing techniques. It bonds even on coated and varnished papers and can be used to apply patterns, text, and other motifs. Lighter-coloured UV inks may not always cover properly where pages are bled off. Because of the cylinder system in the machine, this method of edge finishing cannot be used on blocks with rounded colours.

Staining edges with water based ink

Soft rollers can be used to apply water-based inks, which cover better than UV inks and are considerably cheaper. But the ink may run into the block, and varnished and coated papers should not be treated using this method.

 

Foil edges

The transfer layer of the foil is normally placed to the clamped block using a hot silicone cylinder, similar to conventional stamping foil. The pages, when treated, stick together easily, so the block has to be briefly fanned out by hand. Gold and silver are the standard edge foil colours, but other metallic colours and diffraction foils are also possible. “Special” foils are only an option for larger print runs and may involve long delivery times. It is also worth asking a manufacturer if they have remainders of special foil from previous orders. Foil edges can also be embossed with a cylinder in a single-level process.

 

Stained edges

Edges can be stained in any tone – any Pantone or PMS colour including metallic and fluorescent inks. The ink can be applied using a cylinder, a spray gun, a sponge, or a brush.

Sprayed edges

Edges can also be sprayed by hand using a spray gun. Rounded edges can be treated, with good coverage, but it may run into the block. As the aerosol could contaminate the cover, spraying should only be used on blocks that have not been mounted in the cover. Spraying is less suitable for large print runs because this process and drying take considerably longer than for UV inks.

 

Inking edges with a sponge or brush

Sponges and brushes were to be commonly used for inking edges, but these techniques have fallen into disuse because the application is less even compared to other methods. The ink stains easily and may also run into the block.

Considerations

A hardback block must be treated before it is mounted in the cover, but soft-cover books are finished in their covers. If the book will have a rounded spine, the edge must be treated before rounding. Longer production times and higher costs should be noted for books that are wider at the spine, and products with bonded samples and cards.

Printing substrate: Edge finishes can be applied to books, business cards, invitations, as well as other materials such as wood and cardboard.

Costs : Determining factors include formats, block thickness, production volume and ink.

 

Are you looking to source edge finishing products and inks? Our products are manufactured in Europe and developed for print applications, suitable for use with a wide range of equipment.

We can also put you in contact with our network if you are looking for a fellow printer to work alongside you on innovative projects. And if you’ve worked on an interesting piece, or have a future project planned, then we would love to hear from you!

 

Die-cutting – the only explanation you need

The first of our “Printing terms made Simple articles”!  Read on for our quick, simple, easy-to-read guide to die-cutting.

Die-cutting is a great way to make your printed piece unique, allowing you to customise your project and make a statement.

Die cutting is a mechanical cutting process with which any shape, or combination of shapes, can be cut out of a material. Put simply, the die is placed onto the material, and then pressed between two plates, “cutting” the design. By using steel blades formed into the specific shape, this cuts through the material to give a crisp, smooth edge for the desired shape. The technique allows specified parts of an image to be emphasised, and also gives a view of the page underneath. Very precise dies can be cut using a computer-controlled laser. Kiss-cutting cuts only part of the way through the material, for example for stickers and tear-off flaps on packaging.

The area underneath the cut-out part must always considered during the design stage. The cut edge always plays a role, because die-cut paper printed with a dark colour will leave a white edge along the cut outline. If the insides of shapes (such as squares, circles or rectangles) are not to fall out, bridges must be defined. Laser cutting is best suited for cutting out finer patterns.

Die-cutting considerations

Vector data : The die-cut line should be allocated to a defined layer and marked as spot colour. The paths must be obscured or overlapping, contours must be closed, and lines defined as solid areas.

Materials : Coated and uncoated paper of any weight can be cut in a die-cutting machine, as well as other materials such as cardboard, foil and metal. Long-fibre papers are the most suitable due to their stability.

Finishing : Depending on the size and shape of the die-cut parts, the material may become less stable – possibly to the point where machine handling (for example folding in a machine) becomes impossible.

Costs : Die cutting is considered expensive for small batches, because a special tool has to be created. The investment in die-cutting pays off for longer runs, where cost per item is less than laser cutting.

 

 

Find out more about our die-cutting product range. Our products are manufactured in Europe and developed for cutting and creasing applications, suitable for use with a wide range of die-cutting equipment.  

Online4Printers can also put you in contact with our network if you are looking for a printer to work alongside you on innovative die-cutting projects. And if you’ve worked on a challenging die-cutting piece, or have a future project planned, then we would love to hear from you!

Are we (really) inkjet ready?

Inkjet Ready and InPrint Milan

First was the Inkjet Ready Virtual Conference, fantastically run and organised by the Printing Industries of America team. The team did a great job preparing and co-ordinating the challenging technical pressure of having to run a 5-hour virtual event!

And second was a visit to the InPrint Show (Industrial Inkjet Print Show’s 5th edition) that took place in Milan last week (20th-22nd Nov).

Those of us involved in the more traditional side of the Printing Industry (Commercial Offset and Flexo Printing, and Finishing Companies) it is apparent that INKJET PRINTING is an area where our attention should also be focused.

Early inkjet presses were limited to transactional work where variable data and print quality only had to be ‘enough’ for those relatively long runs where they became a better solution to toner-based devices. Today, as the print quality of inkjet has improved, new applications emerge combining transactional documents with direct mail, bringing a great deal of new creative jobs to print for the commercial, publication, packaging and label converter sectors.

Inkjet Printing in numbers

According to the Napco Research Study (Nathan Safran, Director of Research):

  • Still around 57% of printing companies do not own an inkjet press.
  • Out of those that have invested, an average of 86% inkjet owners are satisfied with their move to production inkjet.
  • 81% of printers state the production inkjet deployment process was as expected or easier.
  • Work on production inkjet comes from multiple sources: 24% new business, 26% offset migration, 30% toner migration and 20% from other digital devices.
  • Direct mail and marketing collateral are the most frequent new applications printers have deployed.

(Note: Production inkjet refers to continuous feed and cutsheet presses, not wide format.)

Companies, in general, obtain significant business industry insights and information. This can be used by printing companies to develop inkjet-printed pieces that can bring relevance and added value to the target audience. By using variable text and image data, it allows the way to offer more creative and interactive printed products plus cross media marketing initiatives.

Benefits of Inkjet Presses

Inkjet adoption benefits include reduced run times, lower costs, lower downtime, and ease of adoption, BUT there are still areas that make it difficult to compete against traditional offset printing with the most apparent being:

  1. SUBSTRATES. The INKS used in inkjet presses utilise a tough set of requirements to allow the use of a wider range of media and substrates. Inkjet-optimised papers are expensive and there is limited choice of stock available. A lot of future developments are required from inkjet until it is able to print to offset paper stocks.
  2. INK USAGE. This is also an area of great concern. Ink usage in offset and flexo printing is very low (5% approx), and with Inkjet technology it is about 20-40% of the cost per page, making it paramount for the use of good tools to reconcile alongside ink usage estimate reports coupled with job accounting reports, to avoid nasty surprises with return of investment figures.

 

Detailed information from the participating OEMs involved in these two events were shared with all participants/visitors, so look out for further reports sharing more interesting key takeaways.

Are you knowledgeable or experienced in Inkjet Printing? Please feel free to share any information you have to provide traditional printers a realistic look at the production inkjet research, adoption and deployment process.

Social Media Marketing Course

Why should a printing company take this course?

Social media is an area of business printing companies might easily overlook or implement in a basic way only because “other companies are doing it”. But in today’s competitive and fast-paced printing marketplace, you need effective and profitable social marketing strategies, and social media is at the forefront.

Gain the skills and knowledge needed to build your social media presence and discover how data insights and tools can be implemented to match markets to social strategies in order to profitably grow your business.

Whether you are promoting your commercial printing, your packaging or graphic design services, by harnessing social media tools and platforms to design, manage, and optimise your social campaigns, learn how to promote growth and position your printing business beyond the local and global marketplace.

Select or combine from courses outlined below:

  1. What is social?
  2. The importance of listening
  3. Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies
  4. Content, Advertising & Social IMC
  5. The Business of Social
  6. Social Marketing Capstone Project

 

Social Marketing capstone project

 

Course synopsisYour markets are on social media and so do you. Social strategy needs to be based on the business metrics which define your success, and this project within a course will put methodologies, tools, and insights to the test as you create a multifaceted plan to assure effective social marketing is an integral part of your business strategy. Whether your company has a sophisticated Engagement Strategy or you are a new start-up, you will learn to harness the full power of social marketing to grow provable market share and build stronger relationships with your high value markets. For success in today’s digital world, you must have a plan to integrate your social and mobile marketing strategies into your business strategy.

Level: Beginner

Duration: 5 weeks of study, 2-4 hours/week

Social Marketing Capstone Project is part of the Social Media Marketing course. Complete your knowledge from courses outlined below:

  1. What is social?
  2. The importance of listening
  3. Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies
  4. Content, Advertising & Social IMC
  5. The Business of Social
  6. Social Marketing Capstone Project

The Importance of Listening

Course synopsis: This course examines the data of social and gain a more complete picture of what can be learned from interactions on social sites. Learn how much information can be extracted from a single post, picture, or video. Discover the full range of analytics tools and options available to you and how data is transformed into actionable insights for your social marketing programs.

Level: Beginner

Duration: 4 weeks of study, 2-4 hours/week

The importance of listening is part of the Social Media Marketing course. Complete your knowledge from courses outlined below:

  1. What is social?
  2. The importance of listening
  3. Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies
  4. Content, Advertising & Social IMC
  5. The Business of Social
  6. Social Marketing Capstone Project

Content, Advertising, & Social IMC

Course synopsis: Determine how a thoughtful, integrated approach makes content that stands out in our increasingly oversaturated world. Learn how marketers are successfully navigating today’s media landscape and how developing engaging content for your audience is an essential component in effective social marketing. This course also includes an overview of the integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategy for social and how it is being deployed around the globe, as well as tips to keep your audiences coming back for more. In addition, you will learn the secrets to advertising on Facebook and other social platforms.

Level: Beginner

Duration: 4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week

Content, Advertising & Social IMC is part of the Social Media Marketing course. Complete your knowledge from courses outlined below:

  1. What is social?
  2. The importance of listening
  3. Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies
  4. Content, Advertising & Social IMC
  5. The Business of Social
  6. Social Marketing Capstone Project

Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies

Course synopsis: In this course, discover effective social strategies used by organisations today. You’ll see real-world best practice examples and learn what metrics they use to gauge success. You will also learn the importance of infographics and the impact a well-designed landing page can have on your bottom line. By creating a multimedia filter and focus blog, you will demonstrate how social can enable real-time marketing results. After this, develop a plan to reach your target consumer markets and know when it is best to either use or avoid specific social marketing strategies.

Level: Beginner

Duration: 4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week

Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies is part of the Social Media Marketing course. Complete your knowledge from courses outlined below:

  1. What is social?
  2. The importance of listening
  3. Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies
  4. Content, Advertising & Social IMC
  5. The Business of Social
  6. Social Marketing Capstone Project

What is Social?

Course synopsis: Learn how to grow your social strategy using effective, proven methodologies. This course has been designed to give you the tools, insights, knowledge, and skills to immediately impact your organisation. We are currently living in a period of massive disruption with new technologies changing the way people engage with each other and with the organisations that interest them. This course will start you on the path to growing your own social strategy using effective, proven methodologies.

Level: Beginner

Duration: 4 weeks of study, 1-3 hours/week

What is social? is part of the Social Media Marketing course. Complete your knowledge from courses outlined below:

  1. What is social?
  2. The importance of listening
  3. Engagement & Nurture Marketing Strategies
  4. Content, Advertising & Social IMC
  5. The Business of Social
  6. Social Marketing Capstone Project