Making Print a Tactile Experience
How often do you pick up a printed piece and interact with it? I honestly think that an extremely large majority of people would say almost never. On a daily basis I feel the only type of experience a person encounters with print is taking a quick glimpse at the main bolded text or stock art picture and then tossing it in the recycling bin.
With Internet, smart phones, television, the Kindle and other countless products, how can you blame someone for disregarding print? This presents a challenge for printers and designers to think outside the box and use technology to compete with the new media.
This fall at RIT, I was elected as Production Manager for this year’s TAGA (Technical Association of Graphic Arts) Journal. The student-run club in the school of Print Media puts together a technical journal to be presented at the yearly TAGA conference. The organization maintains the industry's best permanent set of technical papers and abstracts on graphic arts systems and more traditional areas of press, ink and paper engineering applications.
The goal of this year’s journal was to break out of the traditional “tasteless reading experience” and, through the convergence of creativity and technology in printing, take the reader by surprise. The creation of the “ultimate tactile experience” journal began from the outside, proving that there is a lot more to it than just the text within.
Cover: Almost similar to a “VHS” sleeve, we decided to incorporate a die-cut cover to complement the design of the book and offer an aesthetic feel. The book’s size is portable and comfortable to hold.
Dimensional Printing: The incorporation of Dimensional clear coating was extremely crucial to fulfilling the desired level of interaction. To test the results of Dimensional printing, two test-runs were completed on the Kodak NexPress S3000. The runs included test targets designed to observe thickness and overprinting by varying coverage values, as well as resolution by varying line widths.
Right from the start, the Dimensional coating on the cover allows the reader to interact and actually feel the patterns of the design. From there on, the inside cover, QR Codes, chapter titles, graphs and pictures all incorporate the clear coating to offer a complete tactile feel.
QR Code: QR-codes are 2D tags containing data that can be read by many cellular phone models with a camera and freely available software. To offer the reader a further and unique experience to cross media, the technical papers and select sections of the journal were tagged with QR-codes that linked directly to supplementary online content.
Fore-edge Design: The fore-edge of the text block is extremely unique and something that leaves the reader saying “wow”! It can be fanned out to create the illusion of a printed image on the face of the book. The production process to achieve this effect took many trials and, once finally completed, made the book truly one of a kind.
VDP: The journal incorporated variable data printing in the inside cover stating the specific book of the overall quantity produced as well as a personalized name of the individual whom we presented the book to for continued support.
This year’s conference was hosted in San Diego and we competed against schools around the world and the United States. We ended up winning best design and production. As Production Manager, this project forced me to think outside the box and help incorporate industry-leading technology to make this printed piece really stand out. I feel if more printed pieces incorporated some of these elements, then not only will companies receive the higher response rate that they are looking for but more people will begin to take notice and interest in print.