January 17, 2022

Embellishment is Easier Than You Think

Coatings, foils, varnishes, and more have been around almost as long as print itself, as brands and printers try to find new ways to make materials stand out.

Print Embellishment card

When it comes to enhancing printed pieces, embellishments aren’t anything new. Coatings, foils, varnishes, and more have been around almost as long as print itself, as brands and printers try to find new ways to make materials stand out. But as digital print processes have rapidly gained in popularity, many of the traditional forms of embellishment just couldn’t keep up, designed for producing thousands of identical finishes, not thousands of unique items in a single run.

But that is changing.

Digital embellishment technologies might have been in short supply as the print revolution began, but manufacturers are rapidly catching up, offering new options for both inline and off-line embellishment that is once more allowing printers — and their customers — to find innovative and creative ways to make an impact.

One study done in 2020 found that print buyers are willing to pay anywhere from 24% to 89% more for a printed piece if it includes embellishments, a premium they are willing to accept because many more studies have found that embellishments work — humans are a very tactile species, and we like to touch things that have different textures and finishes. A piece that has one, or more, coatings or varnishes can get far more engagement than an identical piece with just CMYK.

Don’t Make it Complicated

Adding digital embellishments is an incredibly easy proposition for those already running digital presses — in many cases it really is as easy as adding a 5th color station to the press. A single in-line station can open up a world of possibilities for spot coatings that can be as variable as the printed pieces themselves, produced right alongside the rest of the piece so no additional processes, curing, or equipment is needed. Sure, it could mean that the overall run takes slightly longer, with the press often needing to run slightly slower to accommodate the coating, but it is still going to be faster than printing it all, then moving it to another piece of equipment to do a second run, and the time difference is more than made up for in the creative applications it opens up.

But speaking of offline, for those looking for more complex digital embellishment options, there are now many options to choose from, allowing a shop to offer a broader range of finishing without slowing down the press side of the operation. If you’re looking for more than just a bit of coating magic for highlighting areas, calling out information, or creating 3D textures, offline digital embellishment might just be the perfect choice. This is where options such as foils or varnishes can be added for impressive printed items that truly are one-of-a-kind.

For most shops just looking to dip toes into the world of digital embellishment, however, start small, with the 5th station option and experimenting with the different effects that can be created with just that single option. You will be surprised at just how much can be done with that alone, especially for those willing to experiment and push the limits of creativity. It is often a fairly inexpensive investment as well, allowing you to see just how to work digital embellishments into your workflow and sales cycle without needing to take a big risk up front.

Digital embellishments are taking variable, personalized print from the world of only using color to catch consumers’ attention, to having all the same tricks and options as the more traditional commercial print offerings. For anyone running any kind of digital press equipment, it is almost a “no brainer” to add at least some digital embellishment to the suite of finishing options, unlocking new potential markets, new customers, and new profits.

denise gustavson

Guest Blogger

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