'3D' print makes life easier

7 May 2003

Since Gutenberg devised the art and technology of printing we have seen many, many innovations over the years, with technology leapfrogging in the close of the last century. Pre-press, quick change, short run, digital, flexo, sleeves – how much has happened just in the most recent decade.

The majority of the innovations are aimed at lowest cost production, cost effectiveness and quality of colour (see our gravure feature, this issue). It seems hardly any time since this magazine had to consider the number of pages we could budget for colour rather than black and white! Now you would be hard pressed to find a magazine not using colour on every one of its folios.

Sometimes, though, an innovation allows something different to happen. Just such a refreshing announcement reached my emails recently from Stork Prints in the Netherlands (see news section for the full story). Braille can now be applied without complication to substrates as diverse as solid board to plastics films. It is achieved by rotary screen printing as much as 300 micron deposits in one pass to give the tactile effects.

With the growing recognition that the shopping experience should be enjoyable for all consumers – both the visually impaired as well as the sighted – the company reports that converters are showing increased interest in being able to offer packaging solutions incorporating these features. Not being able to see the packages no longer means you have to go shopping with someone who can read the detailed product information to you, or that you have to attempt to track down a member of the store staff for help.

By using a combination label press, the Braille could be "printed" in an economical way. I'm told that end users are being shown the possibilities of providing Braille readers information such as product contents, expiry data and ingredients. So far, interest for such solutions has been for food products on a number of plastics label substrates.

And I am pleased to hear that at least one major UK based retail chain is considering such options.

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