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The Wonderful World of UV Special Effects

(February 2012) posted on Tue Mar 20, 2012

Find out how you can use the latest generation of UV-curable inks and coatings to add value to signs, graphics, packaging, and other screen-printed applications.


By Mike Young

click an image below to view slideshow

Creating value with special effects
Screen printers are beginning to recognize a new, extremely lucrative market niche that has suddenly increased the size of the pie: value-added special effects. Print buyers are more demanding than ever. They want more and better for less. But they are also clamoring to provide excitement for their own markets and customers—something totally different and imposing; something very special and stunning.
Buyers are more than willing in mindset to spend additional premiums for something that clearly sets their prints apart and boasts some form of electrifying enhancement. While screen printing is known as the poor cousin of the allied printing community, it provides some of the most spectacular, visual-enhancing results that no other process can emulate.
The type of special effects referred to here are those created by a single pass or multiple layers of specially formulated, UV-curable clear coating (varnish), together with additives as necessary. These products are designed to provide an abundance of different effects according to desired needs. Further spectacular results can be produced with combination layers and applied onto unprinted coated/uncoated stocks, thereby creating an inexpensive assortment of exclusive-looking substrate types, such as foil-likeness but in selective areas (Figure 1).
Interestingly enough, these special-effect UV inks can be coated onto any previously printed material to provide an enhanced effect, whether the job was originally produced by offset, flexo, digital, or screen. The extraordinary pulling power of these effects can produce deep gloss, texture, abrasive feel, wrinkle, coral, icy snow, genuine-looking silver/gold, bubble, glitter, selective foil stamping, and fine line micro-embossing and 3D holographic designs.


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