by Brittany Willes, PostPress
Long before the Foil and Specialty Effects Association’s annual Sourcebook begins making appearances at tradeshows and conferences, the association’s directors are hard at work designing each year’s cover. Every year, a new theme is selected, highlighting various aspects of the foil industry. Previous years have included such memorable themes as the 2014 award-winning “Add Bite” Sourcebook, which featured an engraving of a great white shark that literally jumped off of the page with the help of detailed embossing.
For the 2015 Sourcebook, Executive Director Jeff Peterson and Associate Director Kym Conis decided on the theme of “Sweet Finishes,” with the cover displaying a decadent cupcake, drizzled with chocolate and sprinkles and topped with a tantalizing cherry. Thanks to the finishing process, which employed a 3D UV coating, the cover image appears good enough to eat while compelling viewers to reach out and touch. “We knew early on we wanted to use the Sweet Finishes theme,” said Peterson. “With that, it made sense to look at images and graphics that conveyed sweetness. We liked the idea of something that had a cherry on top because finishing is the ‘cherry on top’ of the printing process.” According to Peterson, the cupcake image was the perfect fit once it was determined the cover would utilize Sipe, Inc.’s Touch Me 3D UV coating process in conjunction with a combination (foil and embossed) headline and FSEA logo.
Utilizing Sipe’s Touch Me coating, the cover first was offset printed in 4-color process on a 15pt. C1S Carolina Cover. Specific inks were applied that were able to easily accept both the special UV coating and hot stamping foil. From there, several steps were necessary in order to create the touchable look of the cupcake. Lisa Hill, vice president of sales and marketing for Sipe, explained, “Technically speaking, our designer started by creating a 3D-UV layer mask over the image provided by the printer. He selected the areas of the image that would receive the extra ‘pop’ or ‘texture’ from the 3D-UV and determined how high the build should be.” For the Sweet Finishes cupcake, the cherries and the chocolate sauce were done at 100Micron level, while the sprinkles were at 200Micron. The watermark (blind application, meaning there is no print underneath it) was done at 20Micron and the cup at 60Micron. The file then was sent to Sipe’s MGI JetVarnish 3D digital machine, where sheets were fed through and the coating was applied via MGI’s inkjet varnish technology.
The finishing touch to the final cover image, which included the text, “Sweet Finishes,” embossed and hot foil stamped using red 45-Red foil by Infinity Foils. The red FSEA logo likewise was embossed and stamped with 45-Red foil and offset next to the cupcake. The combination foil and embossing brass engravings were produced by h+m USA for both the headline and logo. Due to the “digital stock” utilized for the sourcebook cover, special attention was needed to ensure the correct depth was used in the making of the combination dies. This was important to make certain there would not be any stress cracks between the letters of “Sweet Finishes” or around the FSEA logo. “We were excited to see the finished covers when they arrived,” explained Peterson. “It always is so gratifying to see a project start from a simple theme and grow into a beautiful finished product.”
The “simple theme” was not without its obstacles, however. “We did have some challenges to overcome on the FSEA cover,” reported Craig Kotzenmoyer, Sipe’s process quality manger. “We realized the digital stock and print did not react the same to the combo as conventional paper and print does.” According to Kotzenmoyer, the designers had a difficult time finding a foil that would adhere fully and cleanly to the digital paper and print before they found the MH 45 foil from Infinity.
Furthermore, the depth of the dies initially proved too great for the digital paper and print, causing stress cracks between the letters of the words “Sweet Finishes.” Kotzenmoyer explained that when then designers first used the dies on conventional paper and print, they looked great; however, when they moved to digital paper and print, it resulted in stress cracks. Sipe immediately contacted h+m, which remade the dies with less depth. “We received the second set of dies and experienced the same issue with stress cracks. It wasn’t as bad as the first set, but it still wasn’t good enough,” he explained. h+m remade the dies once more, and the third time proved to be the charm. The dies were “perfect!” according to Kotzenmoyer. “We learned that the digital paper and print we worked with on this project had its limitations on how much depth can be successfully achieved with a combo. Just as with conventional paper and print, die relief and depth are crucial for producing a quality product. I believe it is even more so when using digital paper and print. Sipe learned a great deal about digital paper and print through this project that will help us in the future.”