Special Coatings/Enhancements: Value-Added Touch of ClassJune 2013 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
Let's be honest. Humans, by nature, are creatures of habit who are more than willing to fall into a comfortable routine. When treated properly, their loyalty knows no boundaries. This holds true for not just the business-to-consumer world, but the business-to-business sector, as well. Well, it's true within reason.
Want to keep a customer? Offer good quality and competitive prices (oooh, stop the presses). Yes, it's Business 101. But if you really want to put that customer in a vice-like headlock, guaranteeing years of faithful business, try leveraging the value-added benefits of UV offset, specialty coatings and special effects.
In just 18 months, Franklin Park, IL-based Tukaiz—which specializes in marketing production services—has made a big splash with customers courtesy of its Scodix S74 digital enhancement press. The $35 million performer has garnered several new jobs and has generated enough of a buzz to be considered with a variety of other future projects.
Installed in January of 2012, the Scodix S74 adds dimension and texture to the on-demand prints generated by Tukaiz's HP Indigo digital presses and large-format HP Scitex printers. The company feels it is impressive technology and reaps a point of differentiation since the enhancements can be added on offset, digital (including variable data) and wide-format digital output.
According to Frank Defino Jr., vice president and managing partner for Tukaiz, the company felt that by taking two-dimension imagery and beefing it up to a three-dimensional-like textural experience, would provide a powerful and impacting value add.
"Scodix is not just a flat gloss overlay, but a textured overlay that makes each photograph and/or graphic look and feel dimensional, no matter what the image is," Defino states. "It puts the consumer much closer to the actual product by stimulating not only the sense of sight, but the sense of touch, which has never been done before.
"Take the jewelry market for example," he adds. "The shine, gloss and texture of a real piece of jewelry is captivating. So, capturing or replicating that experience and turning it into successful marketing materials is imperative. Imagine looking at a diamond ring in a direct mail piece; now imagine being able to feel the actual texture of that ring—all of the bevels, curves and surfaces of the actual product there for you to touch. It immediately ignites a stronger emotional connection through your senses."
Another strong tactile experience for the consumer meshes well with the beverage market, he adds. Certain elements of touch related to a cold drink—such as ice sitting atop the can, condensation running down the side, the smooth surface of the pull tab—all can be replicated on a printed ad in a mailer or magazine, or at the point-of-purchase (POP).
"What makes this technology so revolutionary is that it isn't limited to any vertical market; we have the aptitude to creatively concept and integrate Scodix into marketing for any industry," Defino remarks.
Tukaiz has aggressively marketed the capabilities of its Scodix S74, from Graph Expo in its back yard of Chicago to the HOW Design Conference. "There is no better way to communicate its capabilities than to encourage seeing, touching and experiencing," Defino says.
The beauty of UV and other coatings is that they allow the customers to sell the sizzle instead of the steak which, from a marketing point of view, is much easier to accomplish. Greg Iannuccillo, vice president of sales and packaging for Packaging Graphics—a member of The MATLET Group family based in Pawtucket, RI—points out that much of the UV work his firm produces is geared toward the home and personal care spaces. Colognes and cosmetic products (razors, toothpaste cartons, hair conditioners, deodorants) often go for the premium look with more sheen than a normal gloss.
The strength of the packaging often trumps out during the consumer's decision-making process. A duffer may walk into his local pro shop for a pack of golf balls and find one that is shimmering—UV embossed on foil board. That's often where the battle is won.
"Eight, maybe nine out of 10 people who buy golf balls don't know what type of balls they should be using," Iannuccillo remarks. "But the association of who hits it, who uses it, the packaging, makes more sense to them than the fact that their swing should be a 90 compression versus 100 compression. The perception is out there."
Back in 2009, Packaging Graphics was the recipient of a 17-unit manroland Roland 700 Ultima sheetfed press. The 127-foot-long beast is equipped with 10 printing units, interstation UV lamps, multiple coating units and an in-line foiler. The press' configuration allows Packaging Graphics to spot blister, provide multiple coatings per form and split coating by product line.
From foil board to SBS (solid bleached sulfate), SUS (solid unbleached sulfate) board and kraft back, "We print everything on it," Iannuccillo says. "We do in-line foil, UV coating. We can do a strike-through coating—part matte, part UV. We UV on most substrates."
The press has produced some amazing results. Packaging Graphics churned out a 10-year anniversary piece for a Fortune 100 company that included an in-line foil with two different coatings, done all in one pass. As Iannuccillo notes, the enhancements definitely provided for "more pizazz."
It took three years of monitoring customer habits before Packaging Graphics made the leap and ordered the Roland 700 Ultima. While the printer was being asked to use more and more foil, the firm wanted to take the environmentally responsible route.
"This process with in-line foiler allows us to take the metallized backer off and provide a sustainable solution to foil stamping," Iannuccillo says. "It can be recycled. The two different coatings allowed us to not have to run one item; we can do combo runs—cards, cartons, inserts—on a sheet to maximize utilization and minimize makereadies, no matter how quick they are. Essentially, (manroland) developed it to be quicker, more effective, efficient and still allow options, more than they had before."
Marrs Printing & Packaging, the pride of City of Industry, CA, decided to go the cold foil route in May of 2012 when it installed an Eagle Systems Eco-Eagle cold foil system from Graphic Arts Systems in-line on its six-color manroland 700 UV press with coater. Since it previously outsourced hot foil stamping, Marrs had been grappling with several related issues: pricing, scheduling, quality. It wasn't a 100 percent apples/apples scenario, but Marrs Printing saw the value in bringing cold foil capabilities in-house.
"We've been able to show some savings to our clients by going in-line foil," notes Scott Marrs, vice president and general manager. "Plus, the beauty of in-line foiling is that everything we've ever ran has been silver foil. We can colorize the foil any color that you want. You can use one-color foil and make it look like you've got four or five different colors of foil, depending on what the design might be.
"The cost for hot stamping with multiple colors of foil would be tremendous, because you have multiple passes on the foil stamping and the registration becomes an issue. With in-line foil, you can do some pretty tricky things."
Marrs Printing & Packaging serves markets including pharmaceutical, cosmetic, skin care, automotive and food, among others. Scott Marrs estimates that about 75 percent of the company's work is packaging on SBS board, though occasionally the company will use foil on booklets and brochures. The cold foil process didn't present any learning curve issues: instead of using a foiling die, the foiled area is imaged onto the printing plate. Instead of using ink, the operator adds adhesive.
"The learning curve was pretty minimal," Marrs says. "The biggest key is the water/ink balance of the adhesive, the density that you apply and the amount of pressure on the bottom cylinder."
Aside from mainstream UV coatings, Marrs also provides reticulated varnishes for a textured look, soft touch AQ (for a velvety, classy feel) and soft touch UV. While these coatings can be delicate and susceptible to marring, they take a designer's vision to another level.
Regardless of substrate, the use of specialty coatings, foil applications and print enhancements like adding texture have gone a long way toward offering printers a bona fide point of differentiation...not to mention profit. PI