Compelling, differentiated, multi-dimensional print—it’s what creative printers want.
But how can you produce print that you want to feel from a digital press? How can you elevate a 2D image into a memorable, touchable, 3D masterpiece?
In this blog post, we explore haptic communication and digital print: what haptics is all about and what you can achieve on-press and beyond.
What is haptic communication?
Haptic communication describes how people (and animals, for that matter) communicate and interact through the sense of touch. The study of the sense of touch is called haptics.
For most of us, touch is the first sense we develop; from the word go, it communicates fundamental messages: whether something is hot or cold, whether an interaction is pleasurable or painful. Touch is the most intimate of our five senses.
Why should digital print professionals know about haptic communication?
Printers need to know about haptic communication because it’s fundamental to print; the tangible quality of printed media is what sets a printer’s creation apart from a digital image or campaign.
Digital content can be seen and heard, but print can be touched, smelt, and even tasted. If it’s intimacy that sets touch apart from our other senses, then it’s the physicality of print, its substantial, tactile nature, that makes it such a meaningful way to communicate.
As we grow up, we learn to use touch as part of our assessment of whether we think something is cheap or luxurious, good or poor quality, fake or genuine. We use touch to examine physical characteristics and consider whether something is worth purchasing, consuming or retaining.
Print you can feel is an exciting and powerful vehicle for getting a message across, creating emotion and building relationships. Moreover, it does so without wearying its recipient with more screens and digital data. Some would say that the 2D nature of digital touchscreens makes us crave something we can touch all the more.
Including haptics in your consideration of design and print might make the final product more memorable, more accessible, more desirable, more credible, more valuable.
Ask yourself this. Will the recipient want to hold onto your creation? Literally? Every millisecond they keep it in their hand is a millisecond longer that they will interact with the message or brand. And each millisecond is welcome additional value for your customer.
As a final note, we should highlight the security and accessibility applications of feel–able print, which we touched on elsewhere.
How can you create ‘touchable’ print?
Elevating print beyond a ‘flat’ image into something more multi-sensory can be done in a wide variety of ways.
Here are a few things to think about:
Cutting and finishing
How subtle or fierce you go is up to you. Your choices will reflect your project; the aim is to make a memorable impact for all the right reasons.
Take into account the structure of your design, the shine and gloss of your embellishments, the feel of your stock, and the weight of the finished item.
Think slow. That is, look to create something to be enjoyed slowly relative to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it digital image or story.
Whether you’re making premium digital packaging that will build brand loyalty or wedding invitations that relatives will treasure in memory boxes, you can make it touchable.
How can Xerox and First Copy support haptic communication through digital print?
Each new Xerox press brings more media flexibility than its predecessor. These expanding capabilities support you to use print technology that offers communication beyond what the human eye perceives.
Take, for example, the Versant 280, which replaced the 180 in November 2020. The Versant 4100 also has a more impressive media weight capability than its predecessor.
The Versant series now supports stocks of between 52 and 400 gsm, including coated and uncoated papers, labels, window decals, durable and synthetic papers, embossed media, polyesters, and even some mixed-stock products.
Impressive media latitude is a theme with the Xerox Iridesse, too. Building beyond the capabilities of the Versant family, mixed-stock jobs are supported with Mixed Media Xceleration (MMX) capability. Like the Versant, the Iridesse can support stocks between 52 and 400 gsm.
Custom paper settings can be set for new stocks and then held by the press for ‘next time’. The larger presses, starting from the Xerox Versant 4100, can be paired with PredictPrint Media Manager cloud intelligence – scan the barcode on the stock and the artificial intelligence (AI) does the rest.
Bear in mind that there is a tested substrate list for each press that should be consulted before running something new through your machine.
With today’s inks, digital print doesn’t have to be flat – even before finishing processes.
Xerox’s Beyond CMYK portfolio brings new options for embellishments without foiling. Use clear ink, for example, to overlay texture on your designs, from business cards to packaging. Alternatively, use metallics under CMYK for a rainbow of (very slightly) raised metallic hues.
Some of Xerox’s presses can complete these processes inline – the Iridesse and iGen both offer more than four toners in a single pass. In theory, you can use PrimeLinks and Versant 280s to add vivids (gold, silver, clear, white) or fluorescents (fl. cyan, fl. yellow, fl. magenta) on a second pass, but consider the design carefully to take account of minute differences in registration.
With an Iridesse, textured, uncoated and coloured media can be used to maximum effect with Xerox HD EA Low Gloss Clear Dry Ink. Used as an overlay in position one, it improves the print quality of the output on even the most challenging of textured stocks. The video below shows you the difference between prints with and without Low Gloss Clear on a speciality stock.
Using clear ink (not low gloss this time), you can create a variety of other effects. Clear is available throughout most of the Xerox production range, from PrimeLink through Versant, Iridesse and iGen. You could flood an entire page for a varnish effect, use spot application to make parts of an image jump out (to eyes and fingers!), or even use multiple passes to build up textured layers.
After two years of lockdowns and digital life, don’t we all want something 3D? Something real?
Exceed market expectations with prints, packaging and products that your customers want to hold as well as view. You have the power to put across brand messages in printed communications and marketing campaigns that offer three-dimensional textures and patterns.
If you want to do that on-press — brilliant. If you want to add more processes during finishing…we can help you with that too!
Want to know more?
Ask us about your on-press or finishing options by calling 01223 811311 or submitting a question through this form.