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Special Effects That Make a Difference

Besides looking outstanding, special effects give your designs and logos a point of difference, says Clive Allcott

Demand for special-effects printing is coming back right now, and most major retail brands have at least some graphics in each season’s range that use one specialty technique or another. What is different in the promotional clothing arena is that most special-effect printing is entirely design driven rather than just technique for its own sake which leads to a creative demand from you and your artwork team.

Photochromic ink – Photochromic, or UV-reactive inks, are almost transparent when viewed indoors but change to vivid colours in sunlight.
Advantages: Magical effects can be created with a print that effectively displays two different designs, indoors and outdoors.
Disadvantages: Only a limited range of colours is available.

Glow in the dark ink – This is an ideal branding solution for staff clothing in clubs and bars or where darkened areas prevail.
Advantages: Can combine with a standard print to highlight a particular part in the design.
Disadvantages: Maximum effect only works in the dark.

Foil printing – Foil printing is a two-stage process which leaves a shiny metallic ‘print’. First, the garment is screen printed, using a special adhesive rather than ink, and cured (dried) in the normal way. A sheet of foil is then heat-pressed on to the image created by the adhesive. When the press is lifted away, the foil sticks to the adhesive-printed areas and the excess is removed.
Advantages: It’s the best shiny metallic printing effect. Bling at its best!
Disadvantages: It may not work quite as well for fine, detailed designs, and it’s vulnerable to energetic washing.

Metallic inks – Metallic inks result in a shimmery, sparkly effect, rather like metallic car paint. It is cheaper than foil printing but doesn’t have the same full shiny effect.

Glitter printing – Like foil printing and metallic inks, glitter inks can make your design sparkly and eye-catching. They’re available in a variety of colours and will make that logo look dynamic.

Puff print – Puff prints are created by mixing a specially formulated base in with the ink. The base-ink mix expands as the print is cured through the heat tunnel, leaving a 3D texture.

Flock – Flock printing is again achieved by adding a special base to the ink, which gives the ink a furry, velvety texture as it cures through the heat tunnel. It can also be supplied as a transfer print.

All of these specialty printing techniques can be used to give your designs a little “extra” something, making them special and unique.
Happy selling,
Clive (The Bag and Clothing Guru).

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