How five wide-format print providers have upped their game in lenticular.
By Kacey King
When it comes to printing lenticular, there are a few different proven methods including classic photographic processes, lithographic processes, rollfed wide-format inkjet printing processes, and flatbed wide-format inkjet processes. The majority of lenticular jobs are printed on high-speed lithographic presses from such companies such as KBA, Heidelberg, and Komori. Some newer KBA presses can even direct-print lithographic materials up to 81-in. wide using UV ink. The difference is that these are thinner lenses made to go through a lithographic press, not the same ones used for printing on wide-format flatbed presses. And the cost factors are different because the setup for a lithographic press requires a larger run of lenticular lenses to make a job worthwhile.
Some history: Lenticular has been in existence for 150 years or so, and probably came to the attention of most in the US with the introduction of president Eisenhower’s "I Like Ike" lenticular campaign buttons and the ubiquitous toys that came in the bottom of Crackerjack boxes. But wide-format lenticular began creeping onto the scene in the late 1990s when Flipsigns, Microlens, and Encad (now part of Kodak), teamed up to create an integral lenticular production system. Flipsigns designed software that would interlace files specified to the sizes of Microlens lens; Microlens designed lens to fit Encad machines specifically; and Encad gave Flipsigns some free Encad printers to give to people interested in starting up a lenticular printing business. Flipsigns then gave these people the free Encad printers and free Flipsigns Super Flip lenticular software. Some of those early lenticular shops took off and grew into large lenticular production facilities, like Big3D.com; others went by the wayside. Those that did grow have expanded their equipment list from Encad to digital flatbed presses and even lithographic presses.
Tips for Great Lenticular Results
Consider these points in producing any lenticular project: