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Market Trends

Foiling in Focus

For many in print, competition for new work is fiercely contested. Harriet Gordon explores how foiling could help you become the hunter instead of the hunted

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Vivid’s Thornton says that new papers and foils are continually expanding the creative possibilities and the range of relevant applications, opening up new markets and opportunities. Pictured: output from the Vivid Matrix using Aqua Aura Gold foil

Find your inner predator

In the 21st century, everything and everyone is jostling for attention. Whether it is teenagers posting selfies on social media, television adverts with increasingly high production values, or cars driving past with the latest special-effect vehicle wrap, everywhere you turn there will be something working to draw your eye.

It is in this environment in which your print is competing. What chance does a piece of paper or card stand against the might of technology, the vastness of the internet, or the millennial obsession with screens?

Quite a good one, it seems, if you are willing to get creative. Evidence has shown that printed material is more effective than e-mails for gaining and keeping people’s attention. Yet it can still easily get lost amongst the clamour of our modern world. If you want to ensure your print will deliver maximum impact, it might be time to try some special effects.
A bit of sparkle

A sure-fire way to brighten up your output is with foiling. One of the leaders in this area is Vivid, with 18 different foils available in their Aqua Aura range alone. Iain Thornton, marketing manager, comments: “The market for special effects in print has seen significant growth in recent years and is set to continue. We know that end-users look at a print with a metallic or spot UV effect for five to six times longer than a similar print without such effects.

“As printers and designers continue to learn about the cost-effective creative possibilities now available for short-run print, the market will continue to grow. Variable data in foil is now possible and being used in things like wedding stationery, while foiling is also being used in short-run packaging and prototyping. Our customers are working with top brands such as Ted Baker, Harrods, and Hamleys.”

Variable data in foil is now possible and being used in things like wedding stationery

Vivid has made recent upgrades to its Matrix Foil and Lamination systems, including adding a new Matrix to the range that runs at 20m/min, halving production time when compared to the existing 10m/min systems.

Thornton continues: “Vivid offer the widest range of films and foils on the market for their Matrix system, with regular new additions being added all the time. We recently introduced two new pattern Spot UV effect foils—bringing the total up to four—as well as a new printable white foil. We also added a new holographic foil to the range that is especially useful in security applications, opening up new opportunities for Matrix users.

Thornton from Vivid suggests that, as printers and designers continue to learn about the cost-effective creative possibilities now available for short-run print, the foiling market will continue to grow

“Vivid is also the exclusive distributor of Color-Logic software, which allows 250 metallic shades from one roll of silver foil. It works as a simple to use plug-in for Adobe Creative Suite applications, Photoshop, Indesign and Illustrator, and additionally allows creative patterns and effects to be added, increasing the creative possibilities.”

In its lamination range Vivid have recently added a printable matt and gloss laminate to the existing black, silver, and clear soft touch finishes, as well as two new biodegradable films.

Another company offering options for foiling is Friedheim International. In regard to standard foiling, Friedheim provides an over-toner foiling (OTF) process with the Komfi range of thermal laminators. This involves an application of film which creates special effects (glossy, colourful or metallic areas) on the digitally printed sheet.

Friedheim International provides an over-toner foiling (OTF) process with the Komfi range of thermal laminators, involving an application of film which creates special effects on the digitally printed sheet

Stuart Bamford, national post-press manager, explains how the process works: “The laminators are also fitted with a special winding unit, a separation bar, and a support section. The substrate film, with its surface sensitive to the toner of the digital printing press, passes through the machine in the same way as standard lamination. The layer of film then adheres to the areas that are digitally printed, whilst the unprinted areas remain free of foil. The transfer film is then rewound onto a reel and the foiled sheet is stacked.”

IFS supplies Foliant’s multi-functional Inprinting Unit, which runs a range of colours including gold, silver, red, green, and a clear gloss for spot varnish

Friedheim also offers a hot foil stamping and embossing module that can be fitted to any of Kama’s range of die-cutters, designed for the finishing of small and medium runs in commercial and packaging printing. Bamford continues: “The flat-bed die cutter with hot foil stamping module gives you the greatest possible variety of applications in-house, offering ten functions from kiss-cutting to hot foil stamping. It is perfect for distinguished advertising material, labels, and noble packaging with flat or embossed hot foil, and microstructure or registered hologram for brand protection.”

Jazz it up

IFS is one more company that can provide some assistance in the foiling department, supplying Foliant’s multi-functional Inprinting Unit. The retrofittable solution transforms output from the Vega, Mercury, and Taurus B3 and B2 laminators, as managing director Bryan Godwyn explains: “The unit makes foiling and spot varnish fast and affordable for short-run and personalised print. It applies foil or varnish to a pre-printed black toner. The sheet can then be reprinted mono or four colour.

Godwyn from IFS predicts growth in interest in affordable and easy to implement foiling solutions as operations look to cost-effectively add value

“It runs a wide range of colours including gold, silver, red, green, and a clear gloss for spot varnish. There are the options to add foil to un-laminated paper, or, for a more luxury feel and look, foil can be added to laminate film such as ‘Soft Touch’ or ‘Anti Scuff Matt’. The process will transform business cards, luxury packaging, letterheads, stationery, wedding stationery, high end print, book covers, greeting cards, and security printing.”

Godwyn continues, explaining the benefits this system can offer printers: “The units are quick and easy to retrofit, simple to use, and affordable. They allow an operation to cost-effectively add value and expand their portfolio of services and solutions. They also reduce outsourcing costs and turnaround times and enable an operation to take full control of production.”

Friedheim’s Bamford suggests the main thing that has changed the market for foiling is the foil itself

Indeed, ‘how can foiling systems benefit my print business?’ must be the key question when choosing whether to invest, and which machines to opt for.

Thornton from Vivid claims that key advantage of investing is that it allows printers to expand the range of products and services they can offer, and gives them the ability produce more in-house, saving time and money, and retaining control of production compared to outsourcing.

He continues: “New papers and foils continually expand the creative possibilities and the range of relevant applications opening up new markets and opportunities. The Matrix printers offer a cost-effective range of creative products and services for short-run digital that was previously not economically viable.

“The use of variable data in foiling on the Matrix is a value-add service allowing printers to maximise profit. Also, the Matrix has an accurate variable temperature control which means that it works with a wider range of foils and offers consistency across a print job, ensuring repeatability of repeat orders and less wastage as every sheet comes out the same. It also saves time as jobs can reliably be left to run without an operator watching over the machine.”

In addition, the biodegradable films offered by Vivid provide a greener alternative to standard films for environmentally sensitive applications.

Bamford from Freidheim agrees that being able to offer more services to your customers is the key benefit to buying a foiling systems: “They allow you to enhance your print offering and increase the impact of any printed material. In regard to OTF the benefit is two fold, as the creativity needed to take advantage of the cheaper option rests with the customer. How intricate one wants to be is up to the imagination of the designer. Both Kama and Komfi offer printers the chance to bring foiling in-house, as many printers don’t have that facility. Bringing foiling and other special effects in-house means lowering the cost and having more control over the customer’s product.
This in turn lowers costs again and prevents delays in the process.”

At the end of the day, the best ways to assess how bringing foiling in-house can benefit a printer is to ask one that has undergone the switch. Nick Westley-Smith is managing director of PCL Digital, which invested in a Foliant Vega 400A with the Multi-functional Inprinting Unit from IFS. He comments: “We wanted to take advantage of the foil and show how it can work with variable data print. We have had a lot of interest and positive feedback in the foiling process from our customers and we look forward to using it much more. It gives our customers more options to offer their customers. We deal with a lot of trade business and we can help them with something a bit different. We can also offer prototyping to help end-users see what is possible.”

The times a-changing

So, how have the developments in foiling technology impacted the market? Friedheim’s Bamford suggests the main thing that has changed the market for foiling is the foil itself. He continues: “Before, one had to invest in expensive rolls of foil (for OTF) and have to test each roll before production would start. This leads to a lot of wasted sheets. Now however, with the technology maturing and manufacturers are more aware of the problems, waste has decreased along with the prohibitive expense of the foil. We have many UK companies who are now experts in producing very high-quality foils that can compete with imported foils.

“The other change to the market for foiling is that the customers have realised how effective the effect is on the printed product. It brings a new dimension and a premium feel to any kind of paper stock or finish. The future is quite open for this niche sector. With continuous improvements to foil, the Kama and Komfi will be able to run faster, and on more substrates without any negative effects to the products.”

O Factoid: Foil is useful in survival situations, because the reflective surface reduces the degree of hypothermia caused by thermal radiation. O

Godwyn from IFS also pinpoint OTF as a key development in the market: “In the last twelve months foiling over toner has become very popular. It provides ‘the wow factor’ at an affordable price for short-run work, something that was just far too costly in the past when considering a traditional foil blocking. Now, with a digital press and the foiling option, a foiling or spot UV effect can be offered with ease and at a reasonable cost.”

Looking ahead, Godwyn believes the future is bright: “We expect interest to grow in this affordable and easy-to-implement solution as operations look to cost-effectively add value. To meet increased market demand for shorter runs and faster turnaround times they also want to be able to offer as many services as they can under one roof to save time and costs.” And foiling will certainly be an eye-catching string to add to any printing bow.

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