printing-press

Special Printing Techniques for Graphic Design

Special printing techniques can help you differentiate the way you represent your business, from business cards to direct mail. Here are some production approaches you can make when approaching a design project.

printing on fabric

Printing on fabric

spot uv

Spot UV Printing application on wiper blade packaging

  • UV Coating: This treatment will give you protection from UV rays. But you don’t want to for color fade protection. If you print with a spot UV coating, it will allow you to make certain areas of your card have a glossy shine, making content pop.
  • Screen printing: The technique that is used to make t-shirts can be beneficial as if you are printing on a darker paper. The ink will lay on top of the paper instead of getting absorbing into the paper like traditional commercial printing inks.
  • Folding: Go beyond a standard 2″ x 3.5″ business card size. Create a card with a gatefold or a reveal. hand over a business card that is valuable enough to come in it’s own sheath.
die cut printing

Die cuts allow you to create passthrough teases to content that will be revealed.

  • Diecut: Cut right through your card for an effect that can be used for initials or create shapes that highlight your business.
  • Paper Stock: Try an uncoated paper stock. The tactile nature will give people used to interacting with coated paper in magazine and commercial printing application a distinct perception of quality. Uncoated paper choices include laid, linen, column and felt, amongst others.
  • Emboss: Why print ink on a card when you can smash a customized die strike against paper to create any image you want. If you add a little color to the paper emboss it can create a dramatic effect. If you don’t print anything, it’s called a blind emboss. Be careful, it made be hard to read small letters.
  • Letterpress: Hipsters love Gutenburg. The original printing press was letterpress. Inked wood or steel letters pressed against paper create both a light emboss treatment and inked paper.
  • Foil Stamping: Think hallmark holiday cards, but beyond gold and silver. You can stamp blue, color-shifting foil, black foil to create cards that shine.
printing on plastic

Four color printing on plastic

  • Unusual materials: Current printing technologies allow for all surface printing. Fabrics, transparent and colored plastics, wood veneers, metallic surfaces. Lenticular lenses can create animation techniques when you rotate the card.
  • Pantone Matching System colors (PMS): Offset and digital printing standards mix cyan, magenta, yellow and black to reproduce most colors for realistic photographic reproduction on surfaces. However there are some colors like vivid orange, bright pure colors and fluorescents that are impossible to reproduce in CMYK. Pantone colors are speciality colors created by the Pantone corporation for specifying exact color matches and unique colors not offered by CMYK including metallics and pastels. Designers select colors from a printed book, choose them and printers can reproduce that color instead of matching colors from computer screens that don’t match.

By realizing you have an opportunity to utilize some of these formats you can help position and communicate your business as a premium solution instead of the cheapest solution.

by Alexander Morse

Alexander Morse is a digital designer and brand consultant at Morse Communication Design. He helps businesses communicate with design. His creative techniques and communication design skills were fostered through his agency-side experience working with a variety of clients from entertainment to retail. He is now focused on end-user, persona-driven interactive and conceptual design for consumer brands, non-profits, and clients whose message needs to be driven through impactful design.

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