The Beginner’s Guide To Special Effects Printing

There are thousands of special effect inks, laminates, materials, and tools available. How do you know where to start?!

As one of the largest screen printers in the country, we take pride in our special effects printing. From distinctive textures and unusual substrates, to fragrance and metallic colors – we do it all! In this post we will try to break down some of the special effects we offer…

1. Scented

Smell is the strongest trigger of memory, affecting our emotions and even our mood. Therefore, when scent is incorporated within print media, the message becomes more engaging, evoking an emotional response that goes beyond the visual or written message.

Generally speaking, there are two categories of printable scents and how they are manufactured. There are non-interactive scents and interactive scents and you can manufacture them using a print coating (varnish/slurry) or print ink. A print coating is like varnish for wood. It goes over your artwork as a layer of clear scent or fragrance. While scented print ink combines the fragrance with the colored ink that is on your print media. Read our beginner’s guide on scented printing.

2. Soft Touch

Soft touch is a type of printing finish that creates a velvety, matte texture on print substrates. You can achieve this finish through a soft touch ink, soft touch laminate, or utilizing pre-coated soft touch material. Want to know more about the differences? Learn more about soft touch by searching it on our faqs.

3. Chalkboard

Printed chalkboard graphics are a great tool for combining temporary writing and permanent graphics. This is achieved by using a chalkboard screen print ink or base chalkboard material.

4. Dry Erase

Similar to printable chalkboard graphics, dry-erase graphics are also a great tool for combining temporary writing and permanent graphics. This can be achieved with a laminate, or by printing on a base material.

5. Scratch-Off

Printed scratch-off is an opaque ink designed for overprinting. It can be removed easily with finger or coin scrape and does not powder.

6. Glow in the Dark

Glow in the dark graphics are what they sound like – graphics that are most visible in the absence of other light. The “glow effect” is called phosphors, which absorb light from the sun or high-powered lights and then emit the light, which really pops in a dark room.

7. Translucent

Translucent graphics or translucent printing is essentially utilizing space, design, and print process to create see-through graphics. YThis is accomplished through using a base translucent material, design, or translucent inks.

8. Glitter

Glitter: the product that is essential in many sparkly Christmas decorations, children’s artwork, horrendous pranks, and special effects printing. Printed Glitter graphics are an assortment of flat, small, reflective particles reflect light at different angles, causing the surface to sparkle or shimmer. There are many different ways to achieve glitter; through inks, adhesives, hand assembly, laminate, or base glitter materials. Glitter inks incorporate slightly bigger flecks, similar to the common glitter flakes, than those in shimmer inks.

9. Lenticular

Lenticular special effects printing utilizes design and lenticular ridges to produce a printed graphic with an illusion of depth, or the ability to change or move as they are viewed from different angles.

10. Pearlescent

Pearlescent printing (coined from natural essence of pearl which also produces the same light-refracting effect) creates a colorful and vibrant shimmering pearl-like impression on any printed graphic. The pearlescent effect is created from water based, solvent based or UV coating pigments structured with transparent layers. Their different refractive indices and optical wavelengths amplify or absorb light depending on their thickness, creating the iridescent sheen.

Using a discrete particle of a shimmering pearlized compound with the right base, we can print pearlescent in many different hues for your project.

11. Mirror

Printed mirror special effects are similar to metallic and chrome special effects but are much more smooth. Typically this is accomplished through lamination and then printing, or by printing over a base mirror material.

12. Metallic

Metallic special effects printing is similar to pearlescent but is applied to metallic colors like silver, gold and bronze. This finish is achieved through inks, coatings, hot and cold foil stamping, foil laminations, and/or base metalized material. We recommend using spot print if the desired result is in specific precise areas (reducing waste and saving time).

13. Chrome

Chrome special effect printing typically refers to a technique which applies a layer of metallic or chrome-like ink to printed materials. This process creates a shiny and reflective appearance similar to polished metal, adding a unique and eye-catching effect to the printed piece. This finish can be attained through inks, coatings, hot and cold foil stamping, foil laminations, and or base metalized material.

14. Edge Lit

Our edge lit graphics are made with a fluorescent acrylic that uses natural light to illuminate itself, without needing any power input. On this versatile, glow-emitting material we can print, route, drill, laser etch, and form (heat bend into 3D shapes) to create unique and distinct marketing touch points.

Read more about Edge Lit Graphics.

15. Holographic

The printed hologram special effect is created by metalizing the surface substrate with a thin layer of shiny silver aluminum. The surface diffracts the light into many colors and reflects the light. This look can be achieved through lamination, printing on a prizmatic base material, or metallic screen inks.

16. Prismatic

Similar to holographic printed special effects, printed prismatic special effect is created by metalizing the surface substrate with a thin layer of shiny silver aluminum. The surface diffracts the light into many colors and reflects the light. This look can be completed via lamination, printing on a prismatic base material, or metallic screen inks.

17. Fluorescent Spot Color / Neon

Fluorescent or neon-printed colors are super bright because they contain pigments that absorb ultraviolet light that then reflects back out. Neon inks are printed as spot colors – a pure color in its own right, rather than created with four color process (CMYK) printing. This special effect is achieved through inks, lamination, or base material. We like to say if your eye can see it, we can hit it.

18. Matte + Gloss / Spot Gloss / UV Spot

Spot coating is the technique of applying a high gloss, semi-gloss, or matte gloss to a selective area on a printed piece, rather than coating the entire sheet. This draws attention to the specific portions of the artwork – even if it is the same color as the background.

UV Spot coatings are cured with UltraViolet light, resulting in a deeper more vibrant look than conventional coatings.

19. Raised Surface / Heavy Deposit Clear

Similar to a spot UV we can control the timing of exposure to the UV light and varying screen making parameters, we can also create raised profile gloss and matte coatings, which give dimension and texture to these effects. We can also get this texture by printing on a textured base surface or by printing second surface on a clear raised surface.

20. Thermochromic

Printed thermochromic special effects change color based on temperature, often being used for mood jewelry, toys, and sticker thermometers. The ink we use is a type of dye that changes color when temperatures increase or decrease. It is a great way to add a little interactive element to your graphics!

21. Hydro Dip / Hydro Graphics

Hydro dipping, also known as water transfer printing, hydrographic printing, or immersion printing, is a method used to apply intricate patterns and designs to completely wrap three-dimensional objects. We first print on a hydro-dip film, clean the part, apply the film onto water, dip the part into the water, dry, and finally apply a clear coat to the part. This a popular technique used for dimensional signage, automotive parts, electronics, sports equipment, firearms, and more.

22. Custom R&D

Don’t see what you’re looking for? We specialize in customization and help develop new and unique printed products for our customers every day.

Honorable Mentions…

23. Antimicrobial

Antimicrobial film is a type of film or coating that contains substances that inhibit the growth and spread of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi. The antimicrobial properties of the film are designed to protect the surface or material to which it is applied, reducing the risk of contamination and providing a hygienic solution for a variety of applications.

The film works by releasing antimicrobial agents that kill or inhibit the growth of harmful microorganisms. These agents can be a variety of substances, including silver ions, organic acids, or other active ingredients that have antimicrobial properties.

Antimicrobial films can be used in a variety of applications. For example, we have applied antimicrobial film to print media, countertops, table graphics, table easels, and touchscreens to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and other microorganisms. Read how we were able to wrap an NFL stadium’s tables in less than 48 hours.

24. Reflective

Reflective printing enhances visibility by reflecting light, making the printed design appear brighter and more noticeable when illuminated by headlights, flashlights, or other light sources. We print this effect by using reflective materials, or inks that can reflect light, especially in low-light or dark conditions. This type of printing is commonly used for safety applications, such as signage and equipment that needs to be visible in situations where lighting might be limited..

25. Anti Slip

These can be as basic as custom-sized stair treads, or branding and advertising non-slip patches in indoor and outdoor aquatic centers. Anti Slip graphics are often used for branded foot-landing steps on lawn, construction, and agricultural equipment. Learn more here.

26. Adhesive

There are obviously many different ways to apply adhesive, however did you know we can print adhesive too?

Screen printable adhesives allow us to apply adhesive directly onto a part with bond lines as narrow as 0.5mm. Why do this instead of tape or other adhesive methods? It results in more product versatility and increases efficiency by reducing the need to order assembly tooling, die-cut parts, and extract waste. Learn more here.

Grow your company’s revenue while personally enhancing your career! Special effects printing is awesome, but it takes more than good artwork or a well-structured design to entice a consumer to buy a product. It’s a balanced recipe of great design, affordable manufacturing cost, clever placement, and judicious use of resources. Stay tuned for next month’s knowledge drop to learn more!

On the other hand, if you can’t wait or want to cure your special effects printing issues RIGHT NOW – click here, and we’ll talk today!

10 Tips To Save Money When Buying Fleet Graphics

Fleet graphics are inherently one of the most cost-effective forms of advertising, passively driving your message home to millions while you transfer goods.

64% of US drivers notice vehicle graphics
Nielsen Out of Home Advertising Study 2019
One Truck With Fleet Graphics generates an average of 30,000-70,000 impressions per day (10-14 million per year)
“Measuring the Value of Vehicle Wraps” by ARD Ventures
Vehicle marketing results in a 97% message recall, compared to a 19% retention for stationary signage
RYP & Becker Group
Out-of-home advertising generates nearly 4x more online activations per ad dollar than TV, radio, and print
Nielsen March 2017 OOH Online Activation Survey

Memorable fleet graphics have great potential to increase engagement and revenues. Modernistic can provide cost-effective solutions for your next project – further increasing ROI to your bottom line. With fifty years’ experience printing, cutting, and installing major brand vehicle wraps, we’ve developed the following 10 tips to save money on mobile media programs.

1. Online Ordering

Ordering your fleet graphics from an online portal saves you time and keeps the buying process simple and organized. You can track orders and even let franchisees purchase the fleet graphics they need. Check out our easy-to-use online print ordering system here.

2. Know Your Fleet Graphic Coverage Options!

There are a lot of different graphic coverage options available to fit your budget and advertising goals. With the right graphic, it’s possible to achieve high-quality results that meet your unique business needs. Below is a quick guide.

Spot Graphics / Decals

Spot graphics includes simple logos and/or cut lettering to help customers recognize your business.

Partial Wraps

A partial wrap typically covers at least 1/3 of your vehicle makes your company stand out and enhances brand awareness.

Full Wrap

Full wraps allow you to create bold new looks to communicate your brand’s story and capture the attention of your potential customers.

Reflective Accents

Reflective accents are strategically placed to highlight parts of your vehicle visible both day and night.

Full Reflective Wrap

A full reflective wrap provides a dramatic appearance and better visibility no matter what time of day.

3. Utilize The OEM Vehicle Color

Expenses can be minimized by ordering vehicles in the color you plan to use for your fleet graphics and then adding eye-catching graphics! Dialog between fleet graphics managers and vehicle purchasers often miss this no-brainer idea.

4. Make Your ROI Count By Standing Out

Sometimes you gotta go big or go home! A unique fleet graphic will promote more brand awareness than a simple one. A slight upgrade to design and coverage may dramatically enhance that eye-popping effect. Take time to determine how the desired outcome will best be achieved within the scope of your budget.

5. Die-Cut Only

A common misconception in fleet graphics is that they must be printed products. This is not the only option! If the material comes in the desired color, we can simply die-cut it to your desired shape. Another great way to save money is to utilize laminates. For example, we applied anti-graffiti laminate on city buses that were constantly being tagged [spray paint]. Once installed, graffitied buses simply go through the bus washing station for removal – saving thousands in repainting costs.

6. Choose The Right Fleet Graphic Material

There are thousands of fleet graphic materials, film types that you can get lost in. We examine the application and the expected service life of your graphics to properly determine what substrate and process should be utilized. The risk of selecting the wrong material is not only a loss of time and money but could damage your brand’s reputation. When you’re talking about the essence of a company’s brand, the performance of a material is of the utmost importance.

7. Efficient Design

As is true in any marketing program, efficient foundational design can reduce the total cost of a project. In the example below, partial graphics are utilized on a white trailer, however, it gives the appearance of a full wrap. This not only reduced costs for the client but by utilizing creative art, their brand awareness intensified and resulted in improved ROI.

8. Think Outside The Box

Let’s face it; this is an overused business cliché. But the principles it stands for – approaching problems in innovative ways, conceptualizing problems differently, and understanding your position in relation to any particular situation – is our goal with every project.

Don’t overlook approaching a fleet graphics project with a unique idea. Below is an example of a creative solution, printing on banner material for a large scale, durable portable storage container fleet graphic campaign.

9. Design With Safety In Mind!

50% of traffic deaths happen at night – National Safety Council
Visibility decreases by 95% at night – U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration

Creating a culture of safety with your fleet graphics is more than reducing hazards; doing so can also increase morale and productivity, and decrease insurance premiums for your business. We have helped hundreds of fleets implement this by manufacturing and installing reflective graphics, keeping drivers safe and their brand at the top of mind, no matter the hour. For reflective best practices, we highly recommend reading the U.S. Department of Justice’s Study on Emergency Vehicle Visibility and Conspicuity.

10. Curveball! Custom Paint Masking

There are times when a printed/cut fleet graphic isn’t the most practical solution. Custom paint masking can improve your bottom line if you have a paint process, need extreme durability, deploy a high quantity of vehicles, or utilize a complex painting assembly. Here’s a great example of how we helped save a motorcyle brand millions of dollars through our custom paint masking.

Grow your company’s revenue while personally enhancing your career! Fleet Graphics are awesome, but they take more than good artwork or a well-structured design to entice a consumer to buy a product. It’s a balanced recipe of great design, affordable manufacturing cost, clever placement, and judicious use of resources. Stay tuned for next month’s knowledge drop to learn more!

On the other hand, if you can’t wait or want to cure your fleet graphics issues RIGHT NOW – click here, and we’ll talk today!

What is an Ink Drawdown/Press Check?

Have you ever been asked to request an ink drawdown, press check, or color drawdown? These are all print industry terms for the same thing. Essentially, an ink drawdown is testing how the colors appear on the material you want to use. Think of it as a paint sample you would get when deciding what color to paint your room. Except, in an ink drawdown you are also testing the material it is on as well.

These samples are important because ink is extremely capricious and will be affected by even the smallest changes (like a change in the material). Understanding these changes will help us create an updated ink recipe to combat those changes so that the ink on the new substrate looks exactly how you want it to. Knowing how the colors will react to the material before performing a full production will also decrease chances of rework and cost. This is why we always perform internal drawdowns even if our customers do not request one. This is not always the case for printers and print management companies, make sure to advocate for yourself or utilize an attentive printer. We are extremely confident to say that we have the best ink formulation team in the nation so if you have any questions feel free to contact us.

What is Die Cutting?

Cutting techniques can make or break a project budget. That is why it is important to learn when to use the right machine for the job. Otherwise, you could be losing unnecessary money. We will look at what die cutting is and when you should use it!

Simple Answer:

In its simplest form, die cutting is essentially just a large cookie cutter for your design. It’s meant to pump out parts fast and precisely. Similar to screen printing, the setup for die-cutting takes longer but is faster on the production end. Its sweet spot is large quantities with substrates less than .5” thick. If you have a thicker substrate or smaller quantities that’s okay! There are plenty of other cutting options and we have even die-cut foam up to 3” thick! That is why it’s important to have a printer with the knowledge and alternate cutting capabilities in-house.

A die-cutting project has 3 elements.

1. The Die Line

The die line is essentially the guide for us to make the cuts or creases. These die lines can be very tricky to read, but it is imperative that they are correct.

2. The Cutting Die / The Die

A die can either be curved or flat. We typically used a curved die (aka a rotary die) when the parts are small and there is a dramatically higher volume (think sticker size). Every cutting die has a base with blades sticking out of it. Some of those blades are sharper to cut straight through and some are duller to score the material in case you need it to fold or bend. The rubber pieces are to help the blades cut evenly.

3. Die-Cutting Machine

There are 3 major die-cutting machines: roll fed die-cutting, sheet fed die-cutting, and rotary die-cutting. Typically, a die-cutting machine is 4 feet wide so you would want the dimensions of the die-cut part to be less than 22” x 32”. We don’t believe in being held back and that is why we have some of the largest format die-cutting machines in the US.

The more you are under budget, the more revenue you produce. It is important that you are using the most efficient method based on your project specs and not constrained by machine capabilities. Otherwise, it can limit your budget and weigh down your bottom line. Shameless plug: If you want to know if your project is as efficient as it could be, we would be happy to give you a 2nd opinion! Our scope of equipment ensures that you are using the best method for your project.

Tips for Utilizing Stair Graphics Effectively

Plan and implement a winning strategy by utilizing Stair Graphics to communicate your brand
and/or messaging!

Create success with every step

Promotion companies, marketing, and advertising agencies along with specialized media companies are always on the lookout for innovative concepts for making advertising campaigns as effective as possible. The objective is to create a targeted and simultaneously extensive advertising presence, by locating the campaign on the attractive and mostly underutilized / unexpected advertising format. Both a design element and a branding opportunity, stair graphics are being used for events, premier parties, and galas.

On the commercial side, brands have been popping up on heavily traveled staircases all over the world displaying massive ads for their products and services.

Schools allow the transformation of ordinary flight of stairs into a striking visual that reinforces behavior expectations, supports school spirit, and promotes student success.

Transform an arena from average to a standout amongst its competitors, by taking away blank space and turning it into art. Possibilities include championship teams photos, alumni images, opening days or other seasonal events. Additional options for stair messaging includes murals, motivational quotes, along with core value messaging.

Stair graphics do not have to be used for athletics and can be functioned to fit all projects a school desires. Graphics can be used on any staircase, including residence halls, dining halls, academic buildings, and dorms.

Add the unique, yet not over the top design, that turns a blank space into a completely different point of interest. The attention drawn from the graphics can take an average, or even outdated part of a venue, and create what feels like a newly renovated area.

A stair graphic treatment is surprisingly affordable and can be completed with no harm done to the structure itself.

While stair graphics are dramatic, the product itself is economic, easy to install, clean and will last for years.

Do not overlook the option of “Stair Graphics” – especially when your audience needs to go that direction every day. It’s a great use of space that definitely gets noticed!

Top 3 Ways to Cut Down Shipping Costs on Your Print/Converting Project

At Modernistic, we often get asked by our customers “how are you able to cut our shipping times down by so much?” That is why I want to go over the top 3 ways you can cut down shipping costs on your print/converting project. This is more important than ever now as the supply chain gets more bottlenecked and more unreliable. Let’s jump right into it.

1. Design

The first way is also the first step in the process. Design! We design our products to ship efficiently, that way you start with a healthy foundation right from the start. Just like in a house, if you start with a healthy foundation the rest will be set up for success. A lot of shipping costs can be reduced by engineering the design with shipping in mind.

For example, a large fashion retail brand came to us with this huge fixed-box display. The first thing we noticed is that it could be easily redesigned in a couple minutes to be more efficient. This affected how it broke down, was able to ship flat, etc. It cut the shipping cost by 50%, saving thousands of dollars, just through a couple simple steps. *We would love to share a picture of this project but due to proprietary designs and our customer’s wish for privacy, we are unable to share this project.*

2. Efficient Kitting

The second way to reduce shipping costs is efficient kitting. I can’t stress enough how often we see extremely inefficient kitting setups. We always use precise and lean kitting techniques because we know they are proven to help reduce costs.

Another example, one of the tools we utilize is a custom box maker. This helps us maximize the purpose of every inch of space in a kit. Whether we are shipping to one location or 1,000 we are able to quickly create custom kits to exact specifications so every inch is utilized. Eliminating any extra space, size, and weight. It also indirectly makes the contents more secure because of
everything more tight.

3. Location, Location, Location!

The third way to reduce shipping cost is location. Having a neutral location is extremely helpful in reducing ship time and cost. Our location in the midwest situates us perfectly to keep fast, affordable, and reliable shipping lanes for anywhere in the US. This can make or break a project budget and can’t be overlooked.

These are just a couple examples of how small, efficient steps can affect so much of the overall project cost. It even affects sustainability, you are using less fuel, less box inventory/waste, and less bubble or microfoam. (Side note: if you are still using bubble wrap, you should look into switching to sustainable packaging material). This is just the start of how we are able to reduce cost, minimize waste and maximize value, quality, and speed.

Let us know if you have any questions or want help on your next project by contacting us.