But this technology was nothing new; lenticular printing has been around for a while but now seems to be undergoing a ‘cool’ revival. The visual impact it offers has not gone unnoticed by many blue-chip companies, increasing numbers of whom are choosing the process for their campaigns. Among the growing list are major brands like Coca-Cola, Nestlé, Volvo and Ikea as well as magazines including Wired and Wallpaper.
Some of the print industry’s key players were also latching onto lenticular at this year’s drupa. Heidelberg, KBA Océ, Fujifilm and Screen were among the suppliers demonstrating the application on their presses.
Lenticular printing is a multi-step process consisting of digitally combined multiple images into a single file. This file is then printed and laminated, or printed directly onto a lenticular lens. It works by putting a sheet of plastic with narrow vertical or horizontal lenses over an image comprised of alternating interlaced stripes of different views. Each lens covers a set of stripes so the refraction of light means that different views appear as you look at the image from different angles.
This process is proving to be increasingly popular and that’s good news for one player in the sector. “The lenticular market is growing 20-40 per cent a year,” says Ronen Sobel, vice president of graphic arts sales at Israeli lenticular software manufacturer HumanEyes.
The company hopes to capitalise on this burgeoning market with its new lenticular workflow targeting printers. Producer3D builds on the group’s success with HumanEyes 3D which helps photographers and designers create 3D images, replacing the group’s 1.3 software application. The package is bundled with its Creative3D, a lenticular software package for designers, and 3D Photographic software. Launched at Drupa, Producer3D was demonstrated live using Océ’s Arizona 250 GT flatbed and Fuji’s Acuity HD 2504, and both manufacturers sell the package with their presses.
“For many people, lenticular seems like black magic,” explains Sobel. “Over the years, only a few specialists around the world knew how to develop such prints.”
Sobel adds that, historically, these prints took a huge amount of effort to produce and therefore were correspondingly expensive. “HumanEyes is changing this; we make the lenticular creation and prints as easy as one, two, three.”
The manufacturer is targeting its new product specifically at printers, enabling them to create and produce adverts, business cards, direct mail, signage and point-of-sale work as a 3D or flip and motion prints. HumanEyes believes it will take lenticular printing to a level of productivity and ease of use never experienced before. “From a printer’s point of view, it is something you can offer that is completely different,” says Sobel. “For the printer, it is the same headcount, same ink and same time to produce a lenticular project [as a conventional print job].”
Users can design the campaign in-house using the product or manipulate and edit images created by designers, explains Sobel. “You can take any file, manipulate it on the computer, change it from 2D to 3D, and edit content. The whole process allows you to save time, consumables and money because it enables the printer to finger print and calibrate the file so that when it’s ready to go on print its predictable.”
New tools as standard
New tools that are in the package include a layout editor, step and repeat, a tiling wizard and the ability to save the interlace as a PDF for customer approval. And in 2009, the firm will add a soft proofing function.
After the image has been created with lenticular effects using the Creative3D and Photographic software, users then open it with Producer3D to edit and proof it, they can then interlace the image and then print it using different applications such as tiling or clear substrate printing.
The Interlace function allows printers to create different “views” of the image being used for the project, each one a little different so it looks as if each was captured from a different angle. The interlace engine then assembles these slightly different images to create a moving image; effectively it shows how the finished product will look.
Tiling allows users to create lenticular projects bigger than a firm’s printer output format size, for example if you want to cover a large wall as part of a cinema or theatre campaign.
There are different packages available for different customers from the most basic software to premium; this option being for customers producing large posters. The premium version has more value added features such as PDF workflow plus step and repeat.
Three versions are available: studio (digital) for roll to roll and flatbed inkjet; a litho version; and its top-end product for digital and offset, Enterprise, which allows unlimited printed image size and lenticular lens screening.
“We’ve had quite a few sales at Drupa and have been jammed with installations,” adds Sobel. The company’s optimism for the product is founded – there have been 10 installations in the UK since its launch at Drupa.
HumanEyes’ raft of partners is also impressive and include Raster, (a division of EFI), KBA and HP; this should also help ensure the product’s success.
Targeting mostly the flatbed UV market, HumanEyes expects to benefit from this rapidly growing sector. “The flatbed market is becoming popular with people looking for a digital alternative to screen,” says Sobel.
With UV, printers can print directly onto plastics. Its LensFree feature allows 3D images and 2D animation to be printed directly onto glass or acrylic using a digital flatbed UV wide-format machine. Pricing of these machines also stands in the company’s favour, according to Sobel. “Two years ago, a flatbed UV machine would have cost £200,000 (€250,000) in Europe and now you can buy one for £80,000.”
Producer 3D can only operate on Mac OS X and “some knowledge” of design applications is needed, advises Sobel. “You have to make sure you know what you’re doing, that you know Photoshop, understand colours and how to profile.”
For every package it sells, the company goes on site and spends half a day training staff on the application, half a day on profiling and a full day on production. “We can spend two to four days training, depending on how many people are participating and how big the business is,” says Sobel.
Lenticular’s appeal to companies of all sizes is down to the simple fact that with a relatively inexpensive piece of software, they can use their existing hardware, whether it be digital or offset, to expand their product range with a high-value service. This, in the current time, can be no bad thing.
Up to 60 lines per inch (lpi)
40lpi plus Litho Version
Unlimited Enterprise version
TIFF, PDF, Postcript
Mac OS X
PROMAGIC MAGIC INTERLACER PRO100
The US-based Promagic Software claims to be one of the first to provide interlacing and lenticular utility software. Two basic products are offered, the interlacer called Magic Interlacer Pro 100 and a 3D creation utility called 3DMagic Lenticular Designer. Magic Interlacer Pro 100 works with all lens sizes and lines per inch. Since the final interlaced output is a photoshop file, any type of printer may be used, from lithographic, digital, inkjet and laserjet.
Lenticular lens Unlimited
Output Photoshop, JPEG, PDF
This Spanish company offers linear calibration of plastics to generate lenticular effects such as flip, zoom, motion and 3D. Like Producer3D, this software has a similar layout editor or module that allows you to compose various images on the same layout or lenticular sheet. There are five versions of the product, the basic Mini and Lite, Standard, Pro and Ultra, which has an offset printing module.
Lenticular lens 80lpi, Ultra: unlimited
Output PDF, TIFF, JPEG
Platform Windows, Mac OS X
TRIAXES’ 3D MASTERKIT PRO
The 3DMasterKit Pro level edition is targeted at print shops, ad agencies and photo studios. It allows users to generate lenticular images, have unlimited size with maximum resolution up to 7,200ppi. 3DMasterKit Pro also incorporates algorithms that allow you to work natively with CMYK files.
Lenticular lens Unlimited
Output TIFF, BMP, PSD
Contact [email protected]
Read the original article at www.printweek.com.
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