Application: Cuba Libre! – Hera Printing Raises a Glass to the Classic Cocktail

by Laura Copeland, assistant editor, PostPress

¡Por Cuba Libre! Translated to Free Cuba in English, this battle cry characterized the freedom-fighters’ spirit during Cuba’s crusade for independence from Spain in the late 19th century. According to legend, on a hot day in a post-war Old Havana bar, a soldier raised his mixed drink – a Bacardi rum on ice with cola and lime – and cheered ¡Por Cuba Libre! Uniting the crowd in fellowship and fun, the drink soon gained popularity among the locals, eventually becoming an internationally celebrated beverage known as Cuba Libre. Today, it still is admired the world over, and to commemorate the historically significant drink, Bacardi turned to Hera Printing Corp., San Juan, Puerto Rico, to assist in creating a poster honoring it.

Hera Vice President and Plant Manager Ricardo Garcia recalled, “Bacardi came to us looking for innovation – they wanted to make their poster pop.” Bacardi executives understood Hera recently had purchased a Scodix S75 digital enhancement press featuring the patented Scodix SENSE® polymer coating process. “When we introduced [Bacardi] to this process, they were amazed,” exclaimed Garcia. Recognizing the machine for its efficiency and accuracy, Bacardi knew the Scodix system could produce the poster it desired.

Joining forces, Bacardi and Hera came up with a plan that would incorporate the use of the Scodix coating process. The poster was printed on 4-color process on a Heidelberg SM74, using dull-coated 130lb Sappi Fine paper. The design team used inks from Vanson Ink’s line, V3, in the primary four colors – yellow, magenta, cyan and black. After a matte aqueous coating was applied for protection, Bacardi wanted to further enhance the poster.

To accomplish such a feat, Hera decided to employ one tool in particular. According to Garcia, “What gave the poster that pop was the Scodix system.” For this project, he called on Prepress Director Juan Sostre, Machine Operator Gabriel Carrero and Designer Rose Torres to make Bacardi’s vision come alive. “The artists started thinking about how to make it more creative and how to make it stand out,” Garcia clarified. He explained the biggest challenge with this project was keeping a balance between the product and the art – making the drinking glass look realistic, but not letting that effect overshadow the product or the idea behind it.

Craftspeople worked to make the poster not only look true-to-life, but also feel real to the touch. “You can feel the ribbing in the glass, the vein in the fruit and the texture of the bubbles in the cola,” Garcia stated. To create this effect, a layer of polymer liquid was applied on top of the printed material. Additionally, “We had to pass the job twice through the machine. The first pass was for everything we wanted to stay on the same level with an even gloss so that not only the glass would shine, but also the Coca-Cola behind the glass. Then, the second pass gave the texture on the glass on top its shine,” he explained.

The design team determined what parts of the poster needed to incorporate texture and then applied the polymer accordingly. “You really have to design what you want to be polymer,” Garcia said. “Where do you want it to be higher and lower, and where do you want to have texture?” Once that is agreed upon, the appropriate software is assigned, the polymer is applied into the machine and the sheet is passed through. Next, the polymer drops into the printing material, and a UV light completely seals it. Once it comes out, it is dry and presents with a super high-end gloss with texture. “This is the elegance Bacardi was looking for,” noted Garcia.

The 3D poster has received great praise and several awards. It has entered a few competitions nationwide and worldwide – taking first place in the General Commercial Printing category for the Scodix Design Awards in 2014. Additionally, it took second place in the Premier Print Awards, as well as the Printing Impressions‘ Gold Ink Awards. Beyond its international recognition, the poster is revered within the company – it is the only Bacardi decoration hanging in the office of Bacardi’s general manager in Puerto Rico.