Monday, 03 Jun 2019 16:31 GMT

Special Effects

What is that, glimmering in the distance? Genevieve Lewis discusses the equipment and the processes that are necessary to add that bit of sparkle to printed products

Let it shine

In a highly competitive sector like the print industry, having that secret weapon up your sleeve to put you at the forefront is crucial; this is something that you have probably read a million times before.

Some of the equipment that will be highlighted in this feature does not come cheap, and it is a big decision when it comes to investing. So, honestly, why should you consider investing in equipment that can add that bit of sparkle? Having witnessed some of the finished results produced from the oncoming onslaught of equipment, there really is some amazing things that can be achieved with print. It is definitely worth considering adding a machine with these capabilities or similar, because what they can achieve, is quite frankly, beautiful.

Get your kit out

To begin, the equipment from Scodix can offer incredible finishes, but does come at a very high price. The Scodix Ultra 101 and 202 can literally offer a sparkling finish, with options such as Scodix Glitter, Crystal, Foil and Metallic. Other finishing options include a spot varnish, Scodix Sense, which is a matte or gloss effect and can create products that require Braille. In the UK, Friedheim International is the distribution partner for Scodix products.

The Scodix Ultra 202

Stuart Bamford, sales manager, post-press solutions at Friedheim, explains: “Scodix has recently introduced its Ultra 101 and 202 digital enhancement engines, with the Ultra 101 being the more cost-conscious offering with six different types of Scodix finishes. Developed with HP, the Ultra 101 is the perfect partner to the Indigo range of printers. Whereas the Ultra 202 has the full range of Scodix enhancements, giving more flexibility but at a higher price point.

“With many of the Scodix applications, the Scodix users have found out how to add the effects for the most impact in all aspects of the print industry, from books to folders, from business cards to greetings cards. The possibilities are only limited by the creative designer collaborating with the printer.”

The Scodix E106

The E106 from Scodix can also provide all of the finishes offered by the 202, for heavier stocks and high-end packaging. Bamford continues: “The E106 has been developed for heavier carton stock and for much longer runs, utilising all the Scodix finishes. The E106 is predominantly used for high quality and high-end boxes, for a wide number of industries.”

What does it all cost? How can I calculate my ROI? Will I be able to make this work?

But what about the cost? Will you make a return on your investment? Bamford explains that Scodix has not only taken cost into consideration (the 101 is a cheaper option than the fully-fledged 202) but has implemented a calculator to help potential customers form a decision. He says: “This is an important question. What does it all cost? How can I calculate my ROI? Will I be able to make this work? Scodix has actually designed a calculator for printers and finishers so that they can calculate their costs for specific jobs all the way through to full production workflows.

Effect created with Komfi Spot UV

“As with all Spot UV varnishing, users must buy varnish. How much will depend on the usage of the machines, cost will depend on the nature of the machine. Some machines must use proprietary varnish, which is hugely expensive. Scodix uses its calculator for its customers to show how profitable the Scodix range can actually be. It is proven technology with the polymer at a much lower price point that its competition and can even calculate a click charge for it.”

KAMA hot foil stamping with combined embossing

Other ranges supplied by Friedheim include the Komfi Amiga thermal laminators and Spotmatic series, as well as equipment from KAMA. The Amiga range has been given new upgrades to enhance the lamination process, and the Komfi Spotmatic series is a reliable workhorse. “The ProCut 76 Foil and the smaller ProCut 52 Foil have ten different applications making the finishing highly flexible to satisfy the customers’ needs,” says Bamford on the KAMA range. “For hot foil stamping, hologram application, and cutting, creasing, perforating, kiss-cutting and blind embossing. Be it commercial products or packaging.”

If you have a slightly smaller budget, the F-mark range of digital die-cutters/kiss cutters from Ashgrove Trading could be the way to go. Rolf Smith, marketing manager and partner of Ashgrove, explains: “Ashgrove’s most popular range of finishing equipment at the moment are the F-mark digital die-cutters/kiss-cutters. This highly-affordable equipment range (investment costs between £4,500 and £9,000 depending on model) enables digital print rooms to creatively produce in-house a wide range of added value printed goods in all shapes and sizes – all on-demand without dies for runs from one to 1,000 sheets.”

White ink can offer great special effects to a final product

How could printers benefit from investing in equipment from Ashgrove? Smith says that because of the affordable price, printers can be creative with their finishing and special effects, offering more to their own end users. Smith continues: “Because these machines are affordable and work without dies, there are no prohibitive costs, so every creative idea can become an economically viable reality for the end client. If you can design it, you can create it. For example, if a customer has a special event taking place with 100 guests, the printer can produce personalised gift boxes, name badges, tickets, personalised folders etc for the client to wow their guests.

“The profit-making opportunities for the printer are huge as the perceived value of this kind of printed product is far higher than standard leaflets and business cards.”

Other applications that the F-mark can excel in is bottle labels, wedding labels, door hangers, party masks, presentation boxes, bespoke shaped business cards, A4 pocket die-cut folders, cup wraps, just to name but a few.

Ashgrove Trading offers the F-mark range of digital die-cutters/kiss cutters, which can help to produce products such as face masks and bespoke wedding or party paraphernalia, among other things

Ashgrove is also a partner for D&K Europe, and Smith highlights the Neptune laminator/foiler. John Hancock, sales manager for D&K explains: “The Neptune is one of our newest laminators and almost all of them are now supplied at the outset with the rewind unit to facilitate the application of foil. It can also be retrospectively fitted as it can with our larger Europa range models.

Factoid: Spot UV is a glossy finish applied to specific areas of a printed page. The thin layer of glossy polymer acts to create a slightly raised texture – instantprint. O

“Printers have been offering foiling as an added value service for years but generally had to put it out to specialist finishers with foil blocking capabilities, adding both time and cost. Today, digital printers can offer digital foiling applications immediately, reducing cost, shortening lead times and adding impact to a range of digital produced print including invitations, packaging and book covers. Our UV Gloss Foil adds a Spot-UV effect finish, ideal for the latter and again saving on another traditionally outsourced service.”


After potentially investing in a bit of kit that can offer you extra sparkle like the range from Scodix, what else do you have to consider? Toby Burnett, director of sales EMEA of workflow provider, PrintFactory, highlights the other elements that will add to the cost. He says: “As special effects offering is all about giving customers greater choice and a more tailored service, special effects are an integral part of bespoke design, which makes print-service-providers stand out from their competitors – ultimately driving more business.

“So, it’s no wonder they’re more popular than ever, or that demand is growing among PSPs for technologies that make special effects easier to deliver,” adds Burnett. “However, there’s a cost involved. Simply being set up to create those effects means having specialist inks and substrates available, which in turn makes them a premium product. As a result, we’re seeing a growing interest in the capabilities of PrintFactory Editor: a tool that lets high-street PSPs offer special effects as part of their standard toolkit, saving time and resources while creating the highest quality finishes.”

Burnett also highlights the trends in special effects, saying that white ink is becoming increasingly popular. He explains: “PrintFactory Editor streamlines the creation process and offers tick-box access to a multitude of special effects. Lenticular 3D raised image printing, for example, on a flatbed that will deliver an aesthetically pleasing textured result. Gloss spot varnishes, too (which have been unpopular due to the technical and environmental conditions needed for high quality results). However, the up-and-coming trend that we’re seeing is for special effects produced with white ink.”

Elsewhere in the industry, and moving away from specific finishing equipment, the Heidelberg Speedmaster offset litho press can be supplied with a range of special effects products. These include cold foiling units, perfecting devices, gloss and matte coating and pearlescent and iridescent coatings among others.

The off the shelf press is a thing of the past. At every level we are seeing printers looking to offer more to existing customers or to create new markets

Matt Rockley, marketing manager for presses at Heidelberg UK, comments: “The off-the-shelf press is a thing of the past. At every level we are seeing printers looking to offer more to existing customers or to create new markets. The 18-unit MPS East Kilbride is one of the most highlight specified presses in the UK with its 11 printing units, three coating units, four drying units and an in-line cold foiling system.

Matt Rockley, marketing manager for presses at Heidelberg UK

“It can run at 18,000s p/h to meet the high demand for premium branded packaging including production on 1,000-micron board. But at every level, and for every format of press, there are special effects that can give print a unique appeal. Debossing, as its name implies, is the counter to embossing, creating an image depressed into stock to draw the eye.”

This is obviously just a sneak peek into the world of special effects, and the certain finishes that can be achieved when investing in the right equipment. From splashing the cash through to more budget-friendly machinery, there are many ways to add that sparkling touch.