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Thank goodness we are all different in how we look, live, and run our businesses. There are times, of course, when replicating a look or product offering can be appealing and beneficial to our industry, but the power of product differentiation is also key.
When we speak of display graphics we tend to think of paper and board of various types but tend to forget the increasing use of glass. Textured glass, coloured glass and printed glass. For most applications glass must either be toughened or laminated. Both techniques present opportunities for screen printing.
With toughened glass the design is printed onto the surface of the glass using ink containing the pigment, a medium, such as pine oil, and glass frit, which consists of finely powdered glass. The printed glass then goes into the toughening oven where it is raised to 700°C and the frit melts and bonds the pigment to the glass.
Laminated glass consists of a sandwich of glass and an interlayer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) The plastic is bonded between two panes of glass under heat and pressure. Once sealed together, the glass sandwich behaves as a single unit and looks like normal glass. Toughened glass can be used to produce laminated glass. Like the glass in car windshields, laminated glass may crack upon impact, but the glass fragments tend to adhere to the plastic interlayer rather than falling free and potentially causing injury. It is possible to bond a series of layers together to make it bullet or even bomb proof. Cockpit windows on aircraft, for example, are constructed of multilayer laminated glass.
For all but the most specialised applications, the temperatures used in production are nowhere near as high as required for toughening. A temperature of just 70°C is required and pressure can be applied in several different ways, from a pressurised oil bath to a vacuum envelope. There are several producers for laminated glass in the UK who are happy to process small batches. An innovative printer can print the plastic interlayer and have it formed into a laminated sheet of glass creating an effective internal or external functional and decorative feature.
Printing onto glass requires specialist machines and in the UK, HG Kippax is a major player. Glass is heavy and fragile before post treating so in-feed and out-feed are crucial. Poor quality prints create very expensive rejects, so machine and stencil quality are also important.
On a larger scale the whole glass fascia of a skyscraper can have vibrant ceramic colours printed on the external surfaces that will last the lifetime of the building. Sometimes rather than geometric solids and tones, actual images of people or animals are created by printing individual elements of the image on single windows rather like giant pixels.
Halloween and Christmas is the time when screen printing really comes into its own as Chairman of the Simpson Group, Mark Simpson, illustrated at the Prism conference. Screen printing played a key part in Christmas and Halloween campaigns, with fluorescent colours, glitter and high build varnishes capable of turning a plain substrate into a vibrant selling medium.
It is vital that specifiers know what is possible. Designers must be told how these special effects can provide that extra punch and the Fespa Sensations book presents just such an opportunity. It gives a whole range of examples demonstrating the possibilities.
Showing the book to customers is a way to demonstrate the special effects possible by combining digital and offset litho with screen printing. It could be argued that single process print providers miss out on many opportunities, becoming instead just a supplier of a commodity that is price driven. Being able to run a project from initial concept to final finished product has to give the manufacturer more opportunities for profit generation.
Do it right and price is secondary. If the finished result creates increased sales and more profit for the end user then it is a no cost transaction. It is not a matter of how much the customer pays for the work it is about returns.
A well thought out marketing campaign uses all the skills and resources of a print service provider and this is vital because so many products are totally dependant on brand recognition for their success. Take any well printed logo or advertising message out of public view and the product would quickly disappear from the market. Twitter you may, Facebook you can, but there is no substitute for a vibrant image imposing itself on your conscious and sub conscious mind.