PART OF the beauty surrounding printing on plastics is that the potential for applications is limited only by the imagination of designers. And, judging by the creativity of some gizmos and gadgets printed on plastic, that doesn’t appear to be an issue.
Even with limitless possibilities, this discipline comes with caveats. The substrates cost more than most paper stocks. The adhesion can be difficult. Some substrates can be high maintenance. Not every great concept will fly. And neophytes need to educate themselves thoroughly on the nuances of plastics printing.
Color Ink, based in Sussex, WI, has worked in the plastics space since 2001, with the installation of a KBA Rapida 105 hybrid UV sheetfed offset press. The company produces a wide range of products, from phone cards and signage to point-of-purchase (POP) and point-of-sale (POS) items, notes Mike LaForest, vice president of operations.
Color Ink works with a good deal of heavy-gauge plastics, and it uses six or seven different substrates on a regular basis. Much of its direction has been dictated by the evolving needs of its client base.
“We had a couple of customers who were branching out, especially on the POP and packaging side,” LaForest says. “Plus, we wanted to give the sales reps something to sell that we didn’t have before, which was the hybrid UV process. It allows you to do different things, and it’s opened us up to new markets.”
While Jackson Press just recently embarked on plastics printing at its facility in Indianapolis, the man brought in to spearhead the initiative, Lynn Kendall, was a local forerunner in UV printing on plastics. The newly added capabilities complement Jackson Press’ traditional sheetfed offset, binding, fulfillment, direct mail and database services offerings.
The company has focused much of its energy providing POP items for its customers, with vinyl and styrene being its most typical substrate varieties. But Kendall notes that Jackson also churns out menus, lenticular prints, plastic rulers and Cling Mates, which are very popular with the appliance sector.