By Cassandra Balentine
Holographic and prismatic products add flair to wide format output. They are utilized for a variety of applications from stickers and decals to labels and packaging, holiday and special occasion graphics, point of purchase (POP) displays, window graphics, and temporary outdoor signage.
The primary use of this material tends to be stickers, according to Jay Kroll, product manager, cut, transit, and wall solutions, General Formulations. Whether for bands and brands, coffee shops and retail, or packaging for specialty goods where a certain psychedelic aesthetic is appreciated, he offers.
“We see holographic films used in exhibits, concert venue decals, labels in the cannabis industry, and event stickers,” comments Michael Aldrich, product manager, FDC Graphic Films, Inc.
Prismatic and holographic products are used in signage and featured in out-of-home transit such as bus posters and taxi applications for special events, adds Jodi Sawyer, strategic business unit manager, FLEXcon Company, Inc.
“The visual enhancement that prismatic and holographic products provide results in an experiential effect to brand promotion. In store, these films add interest to displays for increased engagement that leads to shopper attention. They also give a premium look and feel,” she shares.
Jeff Peterson, VP marketing, Competitive EDGE US, U.S./Canada manufacturer representative for DreamScape, also sees these types of special effects materials used in environments like hotels, theme parks, restaurants, and retail stores to create unique and eye-catching wallcovering designs.
Above: DreamScape’s holographic options include Rave. What makes its products unique is that they all pass the Wallcovering Association criteria for Type II.
Wide Format Growth
Specialty holographic and prismatic media options are gaining popularity among wide format print providers.
Traditionally, specialty films were screen or offset printed, where press-applied treatments could be used to achieve different effects. “Over time promotions have evolved, and specialty films are ideal for wide format digital printing,” notes Sawyer.
She credits this to the increased popularity of digital displays, creating a challenge for static graphics to compete. “Prismatic and holographic products allow advertisers to add light and movement to static displays. Through the creative use of opaque and translucent inks, advertisers can create unique visual effects on signage and POP displays by allowing the prismatic pattern to show through in certain areas while blocking it out in others.”
Aldrich believes holographic films are gaining popularity because “of the different looks that these products offer when printed.”
Dan Velez, VP of sales, Substance Incorporated, says metalized films are also popular because they allow for the creation of unique, attention-grabbing signage. “End users are always looking for new, trend setting materials that set them apart from their competitors and deliver maximum return on investment on advertising.”
Specialty media options like holographic and prismatic are ideal for high-impact effects.
For example, specialty media can be used for something like a new product launch where the product label and/or promotions will eventually transition to traditional materials. “The value of a specialty film for the initial launch may bring the visibility and differentiation that the brand is looking for,” comments Sawyer.
She points out that when Ice Breakers mints were first introduced, the label on the container used a pressure-sensitive prismatic film in kaleidoscope pattern to evoke the look and feel of ice.
Lily Hunter, senior product manager, Roland DGA Corporation, adds that these options complement traditional white or clear media. “While holographic film may not be right for every decal it adds a unique touch for special occasions.”
Cost is a consideration when working with specialty media.
The price of specialty films is typically higher than traditional materials because there is more processing involved during manufacturing and the volumes of these products are typically smaller, explains Sawyer.
Peterson notes that the films typically have higher cost raw materials and coatings, contributing to their price difference.
Most of the time, Aldrich agrees that these products will cost more than a traditional calendared white print film because of the way the film is made.
However, it is important to consider that the value of using specialty films is determined by the application and how it functions for the end product. “If it is used to replace or augment a digital display, that’s not likely to be a barrier based on cost because digital displays are much more expensive than static graphics,” says Sawyer.
“These prismatic and holographic films are probably three to four times the cost of your standard white vinyl, and more on par with a peel-and-stick wall fabric or cast vinyl. However, the return on even a few stickers is so dramatic that it is worth the addition to your materials list,” states Kroll.
There are certain considerations to take into account when working with holographic or prismatic media options.
For example, not all ink systems will provide the necessary bond to the films. “It’s important to work with the manufacturer to understand the compatibility of your printing equipment and obtain samples for test printing. The amount of ink coverage needed depends on the creative and the aesthetic that the client wants to achieve, such as whether they want the specialty film to show through the creative throughout or only in specific areas,” suggests Sawyer.
Hunter believes that it is best to keep graphics simple, use bold colors, and avoid using effects like gradients or shadows. “They tend to get lost, unless you use white ink as an underbase,” she notes.
When cutting, Aldrich says holographic films perform similarly to a calendered material. He says a 45/60-degree blade should work just fine.
“Plotter setup may need to be adjusted to work with a thicker shiny film,” adds Kroll.
Some users may struggle with their plotter improperly reading registration marks on these types of films, points out Velez. He suggests covering the registration marks with a matte finish registration tape to eliminate glare and allow for proper readability and registration.
“If printing with UV printers, consult the dealer or manufacturer for tips to make sure the reflection off of the film will not cause an issue to the printheads while printing. These films have a light-reflecting value that sometimes affect UV printers,” comments Aldrich.
When it comes to design, there are other considerations.
While prismatic products can be dyed, they are typically silver. “The same effect as dying can be achieved using translucent inks, although some experimentation is required to achieve the desired color due to the film being silver rather than white. Areas of the graphic that will be opaque can be backed up with white to achieve proper color, similar to printing on clear films,” explains Sawyer.
Kroll points out that this media requires designs that lean into the dimension of the material, so it might require looking at decals differently than you might with a smooth white vinyl.
“Remember, since you’re not starting with a white point, you may not hit those Pantone colors, unless there’s a white ink underbase printed,” comments Hunter. “It’s best to print a color chart, without and with white underbase, if you have white ink. This helps to set expectations of what the colors will look like on prismatic film.”
Aldrich feels that best practices would be to have a couple of printed examples of what the product looks like to show customers and let them know how these would be incorporated into the design.
Typically, when special effect media is chosen like prismatic or holographic, Peterson believes it is for a custom project tailored to the specific needs of the client. “Custom projects tend to be more profitable than your day-to-day printing of signage because more expertise and time is involved. Print providers can differentiate themselves from competitors and increase profitability with custom-designed projects.”
The use of specialty media and its profit potential is tied to the solutions being the right fit for the brand. “So, the key is identifying the brand clients and events where the use of specialty media can elevate the brand experience. For example, high-end personal care, cosmetic, and luxury brands often complement their product packaging with promotional advertising,” explains Sawyer.
Holographic films can be incorporated into a design to give more appeal and draw the eye. “This can be used in special labels for advertising a specific product. Or exhibit displays drawing attention to a product or service at a trade show. The sky is the limit,” states Aldrich.
Samples of any of these applications are key. End users respond well to printed demonstrations of the product in question. “Once the creativity begins, the limit is endless with what could be done,” shares Evan Matthies Rezin, product manager, Nekoosa.
Specialty films like holographic and prismatic options are growing in popularity. These are ideal for stickers and decals, but also offer benefits to POP, sign and display, and wall graphics.
Jun2023, Digital Output