Printing Knowledge Base

What is UV Flatbed printing?

What is UV Flatbed Printing?

image printed directly on a keyboard using flat bed uv printing technology to create a superb effect
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Directly print images on any flat surfaced object you can think of...

There is a lot of curiosity about a relatively nascent printing technology. Namely – UV or Ultra-violet printing. But to understand how flatbed UV printing works and what is a UV printer, we first need to look at the capabilities (and limitations) of conventional printers.

The abilities of any printing machine are defined by the media it can print upon. For example, the home inkjet and laser printers are used for primarily printing on paper.

We then have wide-format inkjet photo printers that can print on rolls of vinyl, canvas, and to a limited extent, cloth. Solvent printers reproduce images on flex hoardings and banners. Finally, the huge offset and digital presses can, in addition to regular paper, print on coated and textured sheets of paper and card sheets.

But if you noticed, specially manufactured media is needed in each of the printing examples cited above.

Wood and pulp need to be pressed into thin sheets of paper. PVC has to be converted to make rolls of flex or vinyl. Cotton fiber has to be woven into cloth or canvas and then tightly wound into rolls. And only then can these media be deployed in conventional printers.

uv flatbed printing examples showing direct prints on golf balls mobile covers and a USB pen drive
personalised mobile phone covers created using a flatbed uv printer

How Do You Determine Which Material Can Be Printed on Using UV?

Media (be it paper, plastic or cloth), is specifically made compatible with its intended printer. Only when the media conforms to the requirement of the printing device, (laser, inkjet, offset, etc.) can it be used for the purposes of printing.

The printer sits in its place and sheets of paper / rolls of plastic pass through its innards. Different processes like laser, inkjet, or offset printing takes place, and the print image gets transferred upon the media. The printed media then passes or flows out of the printer and into our hands.

But if this is the case, how would you print on an object that has not been specially manufactured for being printed upon?

personalise a generic mobile phone cove by print directly on top of it using a flat-bed UV printer
direct printing on a diary using flat bed printing. This technology allows for printing on any rigid object
images printed on gift articles like a cricket bat using UV printing

UV Flatbed Printing Directly on Objects

Suppose that you want to print on a block of wood or say, a slab of glass. Have you ever considered pushing in a cricket bat made of pine or willow, into your home inkjet printer? A sheet of paper curves through the rollers of the laser printer. But how would a sheet of glass do the same?

Have you ever wondered if there is any technology that can print directly onto an object, like a block of marble?

UV flatbed printing introduces a new capability of printing directly, onto a variety of rigid objects. At Orchid Digitals, we have a Mimaki UV flatbed printer, which alters the print paradigm. It brings us the ability to print on an entirely new class of materials and literally changes the way you think about printing.

You can put in just about any flat object, inside the machine. And the UV printer will print upon it, for you. In fact, think of an object and we can probably print upon it’s surface.

How Does a UV Printer Reproduce Images Directly on Objects?

To understand how a UV flatbed printer is different from the other print machines, we need to go back to our earlier examples of inkjet, laser, solvent, offset, etc. printers. In each of these machines, the media, conforming to a strict set of specifications (like paper size, thickness, uniform flatness, etc.) has to pass in and out of the printer.

Remember, the printer stays in its place. It is the media that is always moving.

But a UV flatbed is constructed differently. It has a bed or table which is stationery. This table also has an inbuilt vacuum suction.

The UV inkjet printing heads are mounted on a gantry that moves along the X and Y axis (length and breadth) of the table. So when you need to print upon an object, you simply place it on the print-bed / vacuum table.

The vacuum suction holds the object in place. This ensures that the object does not shift inadvertently or due to machine vibrations.

Once the printing starts, the gantry moves the print mechanism in the directions of left / right and up / down. The print heads fitted in the gantry, cover the entire area on the print bed. Ink is fired on any object placed on the bed and the same gets printed upon.

Have a look at the above video of an image of Virat Kohli being printed on a cricket bat and the concept of “what is UV flatbed printing” becomes clear.

collage of UV printed personalised corporate gifts like a USB drive, tea coasters and rubik's cube

UV Inks Can Adhere to Any Surface

UV inks as the name suggests getting cured by ultraviolet rays. These inks are sprayed in a liquid form on the print surface. An ultraviolet lamp then passes over the inks and solidifies them in place.

All other printers have inks that are compatible with only certain kinds of media. For example, inkjet inks require coated papers to reproduce high-resolution images. Laser toner cannot adhere well to rough and textured papers.

But UV printing inks are unique in the sense that they are media independent. These inks can be applied to smooth surfaces like plastic or rough surfaces like wood. You can use them to print on stone, ceramics, marble, glass, acrylic, etc. As long as the UV lamps cure the inks properly, they solidify and faithfully stick to just about any rigid surface.

Moreover, UV led printer inks become rock hard once they are cured. They do not scratch off easily. They are also waterproof and resistant to sunlight. All these properties make them an ideal solution for branding products.

We have a pretty extensive write-up about the various types of printing inks deployed in a print shop. Do click on the link in the previous sentence, to learn more about the same.

Small office interior design can benefit from the use of premium looking gold and silver laser engraved metal nameplates like the ones in this image displaying dates and names of places
bottle printing using flatbed UV inks
uv printed trophies on laser cut clear acrylic
acrylic exhibition badges laser cut into a hexagonal shape with UV printing on both sides

Types of Objects That Can Be Printed Upon Using UV Flatbed Technology

Flatbed UV printers are constructed to enable the following two things…

  1. They allow for an object to be placed on the print bed
  2. They use inks which adhere to just about any surface

Because of the two properties mentioned above, the applications of flatbed UV printing are limited only by your imagination. Given below, are some of the applications of the same…

  • Printing Logos and Product Photos on Diaries and Folders: Customers bring in diaries and folders from stationery shops. We print company logos and product images directly on the same.
  • Print on Wood: Some of our customers bring in blocks of wood, to be printed upon. Great State Ale Works, a popular microbrewery in Pune, have wooden handles attached to their beer taps and dispensers. We UV printed their logo on the wood handles.
  • Print on ACP Sheets: Residential buildings need to install name boards in their lobbies, displaying the names of the occupants. UV flatbed printing can directly print the names on sheets of ACP – aluminium composite panel.
  • Print on Glass: Flatbed UV printing can also be done on the reverse surface of sheets of glass. When you view the glass from the front, you get a beautiful back painted glass effect.
  • Print on Acrylic: Flatbed UV printers can be used to print directly onto sheets of acrylic. Company logos, display boards, images, etc. look amazing when printed on acrylic.
  • Print on Switchboards, Control Panels, and Membrane Panels: Control panel printing is another interesting application of a UV printer. Clients bring in their blank panels. We reverse print the company logo, directions, control symbols, etc. directly onto the same.
  • Printing on Gift Items: Personalizing gift items becomes very easy, using UV LED printers. Orchid Digitals can print on sippers, key chains, pens, mousepads, tea coasters and even peripherals like mouse and keyboards. In fact, there was a customer who walked in with a Rubik’s Cube. We printed different images on the six surfaces of the same. Another customer commissioned us to create a personalized jigsaw puzzle, and our machine did not disappoint.
  • Print Nameplates: Nameplates made of wood, acrylic, ACP or even glass can be instantly produced using UV printing technology
custom printed coasters on acrylic and wood
create a low cost but novel and unique gift by printing your family photo on a jigsaw puzzle using a flatbed UV printer


Flatbed UV printing technology is still at a nascent stage. But it is quickly being adopted by print service providers. With the ability to print directly on objects, people will dream up more and more new applications on the same.

As the machines become mainstream, large objects like planks of wood, floor tiles, big slabs of glass and stone, etc. will be routinely processed on the same. So watch this space for future updates.

Finally, Dear Reader, do let me know what you thought about this write-up. As always, I would love to hear your views, in the comments section below.

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Interesting Projects in Digital Printing

Laser-cut Business Cards

Laser-cut Business Cards to Make a Fabulous First Impression

laser cut visiting card with rounded corners with Xclusive company name and logo cut through
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A Uniquely Cut Card to Help Cut The Deal

It is often said that a customer makes up his or her mind within the first few seconds of meeting a marketing person. This means that the salesperson has to make a good impression of the moment he meets a client.

The meeting starts with an exchange of business cards. But printed visiting cards are a dime a dozen. Most people hardly give them a second glance. But hand over a stunning laser etched business card and you will surely elicit a ‘WOW’ from your prospective customer. It is sure to break the ice and get the conversation flowing.

That’s a reason why so many marketing personnel hand over these cards using two hands. A ritual is created out of a simple act of exchanging information, just to get a client’s attention. And a laser cut business card practically ensures that it will catch the same.

stack of laser cut business cards with a company logo cut through thick textured card paper

Process of Printing Laser-Cut Visiting Cards

A laser etched business card is a meld of two technologies:

  1. Digital color printing
  2. Laser cutting/engraving

The first thing to do is to print a regular visiting card job on a thick sheet of paper. Ivory stock having a thickness of greater than 300 GSM would be an ideal choice. We also laminate the card to give it a matt or even textured finish. In addition to enhancing the tactile feel of the card, lamination also increases the thickness of the card even further.

The next step is to cut the logo or design in the printed card. To do this, we push it in our laser cutting machine. The laser is fired at very low power to ensure that the paper does not catch fire. And as you can see, a laser machine can cut just about any intricate design on the visiting card.

visiting card printed on paper and laser cut in a very interesting shape to ensure recipient attention

Why Process the Visiting Card on a Laser Machine?

A laser engraving machine focuses a highly precise beam of fire to cut or etch designs on a variety of materials. Some designs are extremely intricate and detailed. Cutting them by hand or even by a die punch would not be possible. Precise laser cutters then need to be deployed to overcome this problem.

Is a Laser-Cut Business Card Relevant for Me?

Visiting cards are a simple product meant to communicate your contact details. As such they are ubiquitous in the business world.

But every so often there is a need to impress clients. A salesperson may need to convey that s/he is dealing with an ultra-premium product. And a card having a very unique and premium look may be the right way to introduce your product.

A laser-cut business card also gives off the impression of a person who is a perfectionist. It says that this person will not settle for a regular card and will spend extra money, time, and effort to get a personalized laser monogrammed card, fabricated.

This helps in building client trust without the seller having to say a word.

Finally, laser cut visiting cards are great ice breakers. Hand over such a card to your client and it is sure to elicit raised eyebrows and the sentence, ‘Wow, where did you get this made? How can I order one for myself?’ This helps a lot, in getting conversions started with strangers.

laser cut visiting card with rounded corners

Laser-Cut Visiting Cards Printing - Client Stories

Ms. Nidhi Jaju is an award-winning architect of the Xclusive Interiors design firm. As the name suggests, everything she has to create has to be exclusive. She walked into our office with a pretty challenging job requirement. She wanted a laser cut business card. But her specifications were pretty stringent. Creating one card involved numerous processes.

Ms. Jaju stipulated a back to back printed card on a very stiff paper. The paper also had to have a texture and a sheen which reflected light. Further, three corners of the card had to be curved. Most importantly, her company logo, which had very fine detailing, had to be cut into the center of the card. The logo was stylized ‘X’ which was symmetrical along the Y-axis. Hence, it read as an ‘X’ whether the card was viewed from the front or the back. The images shared on this page show how the final job looked.

see through logo in a laser cut business card

Can I Order a Laser Cut Business card at Orchid Digitals?

Unfortunately, we don’t sell laser cut business cards at Orchid Digitals. We only have the more normal variant featured in our product portfolio. Also, we mainly lean towards industrial/mass printing in our company.

I’ve only created this post in our ‘Interesting Projects’ section to showcase our capabilities. I also wanted to highlight that it is possible to intensely personalize a humble product like a die cut visiting card and make it highly impressive.

Finally, I would love to hear what you think Dear Reader. So do post your views in the comments section below.

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Glass Film Printing Printing Knowledge Base

What is White Ink Printing?

What is White Ink Printing? A new UV technology explained.

White ink printing of clipart and icon outlines on transparent glass film pasted on the front partition of a restaurant to give it a very beautiful look
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Create prints that are part transparent & part opaque. A new option for branding glass partitions.

All digital printing inks are transparent. The base on which the inks are printed, lends the print, its opacity. For example, when an image is printed on a white sheet of paper, the opacity of the paper ensures that you cannot see through it.

On the other hand, if you print the same image on a transparent plastic film, you can see through the image, onto the other side.

In both the above cases, the printing inks are transparent. But the media that these inks are printed upon, decides the job’s final opacity.

While all digital printers come equipped with four colors CMYK, there is a newer breed of machine that prints in a 5th color, that is…

White Ink for an inkjet printer.

And white ink printing technology makes some pretty interesting printing applications possible. Let us have a look at the inkjet printer that prints white ink.

Graphical designs printed on a clear transparent vinyl using UV white inks. The film is then pasted on a glass shelf on enhance the looks of the same
The glass windows of a hotel decorated with designs printed by using UV white inks on a clear transparent vinyl

White Inks Are Opaque

The CMYK set of colors in a standard printer are transparent. They have to be so because these four colors mix up with each other to produce all the visible colors in the spectrum. White inks, on the other hand, are opaque. They do not allow light to pass through.

So, using white inkjet inks, in combination with a specialised technique called layering, we can create prints which are partially opaque and partially transparent.

A glass partition in an office which is simultaneously opaque and transparent. This is achieved by using UV white inks with multi layer printing
A glass partition in an office which is simultaneously opaque and transparent. This is achieved by using UV white inks with multi layer printing.

Using White Ink Layers

When we print an image on a transparent film with regular CMYK inks, we end up two distinct areas:

  1. The image area (where the inks were applied)
  2. The non-image area (where there were no inks or printed images)

If you remember, from our previous example, the entire print (including the areas where the images were printed) became transparent. This happens because, in addition to the base media being transparent, the inks on top allow light to pass as well.

Now, because you can see through the printed area as well, the image on a transparent film looks slightly dull. Please look at the first column of the second row in the image below and you’ll see what I mean. The light passing through the transparent inks results in a reduction of the vibrancy of the image.

But by using a layer of white inkjet inks, we can solve this problem.

Here is what we do…

  1. We first deposit a layer of white ink on the transparent film/media. This layer is in the same shape as the final image. For example, if I have to print the letter ‘A’ in red color, I first print the ‘A’ in the same size, shape, and position, in white ink.
  2. White inks are opaque. So effectively, I have created a white opaque area on my transparent film in the shape of the letter ‘A’
  3. The next step is for me to overprint (print on top) of the white ‘A’ shaped layer. I now print the letter ‘A’ in red color exactly on top of the white layer.
  4. The white layer is now fully covered by the red colored print. It is hidden and cannot be seen.
  5. But when you hold up the print to the light, you will see that the red letter ‘A’ is now opaque. This is because the lower layer of white ink, (although hidden under the color inks layer) imparts opacity to only that area where the inks are deposited.
  6. This gives us a beautiful dual effect of a partly transparent and partly opaque glass film.
    1. The image area (where inks are deposited in two layers (white + color) becomes opaque.
    2. The non-image area (where there are no inks) remains transparent.
how white inks overcome the transparency problem of regular digital printing inks

How White Inks In Inkjet Printers Overcome the Problem of Transparency in Printing Inks?

Look at the examples in the above image.

  1. In the first image, we are printing white on clear vinyl which is pasted on a piece of glass. The vinyl print blocks our vision completely and you cannot see the sheet of glass.
  2. In the second image (row 2, column, 1) the same image of a flower is printed on a transparent film. Now, while you can see through the glass sheet, you also find that the print itself looks a little faded. Here the red inks, being transparent, are allowing the light to pass through.
  3. In the third image (row 1, column 2) a white layer is applied exactly beneath the red flower. Here, the image now becomes bright and vibrant. It is also opaque. The non-image area (or the rest of the film) remains transparent and allows vision to pass through.
  4. The fourth image (row 2, column 2) is just a reverse view of the previous example. We can see the layer of white ink beneath the red flower. This is the layer that lends opacity to the image.
abstract circular design printed on optically clear glass film using UV white inks creates a beautiful effect where the image is opaque and the rest of the film is transparent

Other Applications of White Inks

In addition to helping create prints with dual effects of transparency, white ink prints also have other applications. Here are the reasons people get white ink printing service:

  1. Decorative Films for Glass: Interior designers look for frosted and transparent film prints to decorate the glass partitions of an office or living space. While inks for glass film prints on these partitions are a dime a dozen, prints with white inks stand out and look especially rich.
  2. Reverse Pasting Films / Reverse Pasting Stickers: White inks are used extensively to create stickers that get reverse pasted. For example, the stickers on your car windscreen get pasted from inside the glass. You have a layer of glue on the color printed image, to begin with. The white layer is placed on top of the printed image to lend it its opacity.
  3. Three-Layered Printing: In this option, we print two layers of different colors with a white layer sandwiched in between. For example, a film showing a red car on one side and blue on the other can only be achieved, using white layers.
transparent glass print with letters and words in white being pasted by a fitter on the window of a cafe
White UV inks for glass sicker printing where the film is partially opaque and partially transparent

Real-Life Example of a White Ink Job

The images of the office partition (below) are of a project executed for Ms. Shubham of Acuiti Consultants, Baner. She needed white ink printing service. She had two office partitions and she wanted to brand the same with white inks for glass film prints.

This client wanted to display a flow chart of her business processes on the partition. There was a workroom on the other side and she wanted to be able to see on the other side as well.

Moreover, the film had to be pasted from behind the sheet of glass, because she wanted to make notations with a whiteboard marker on the partition, from the front. We used white ink UV white inks for the printing to give her a satisfying solution.

white ink uv printing front and back view

White Ink Printing Machines & Technology

White ink printing technology is relatively nascent in the print industry. In its initial avatar, machine sellers used to retrofit 4 color eco-solvent machines to run white inks as an additional fifth color. But there were a lot of technical problems and white ink eco-solvents failed to really take off.

Of late, UV white ink printing machines come preinstalled with a white ink option. These machines are pretty stable and have gained wider acceptance in the print community. For running white inks on your machine you need to be aware of the following:

  1. You need an additional printhead to channel the white ink in your machine
  2. The white ink configuration will cost more than the basic 4 color options
  3. The run cost for white inks is higher
  4. You will need design expertise to create separate layers in files. Layered printing is necessary to produce white ink jobs

If you are a print vendor looking to buy a printing machine, we have two blogs that can help you get started. Do have a look at the same when free…

  1. What is wide-format inkjet printing
  2. 10 tips to buy a new wide-format inkjet printer
highly colourful movie themed opaque glass film print pasted on the front facade of a cafe to enhance the decor of the restaurant
Logos cut on frosted glass film and pasted on office partition
one way vision as a privacy panel

Other Options for Glass Branding

While white ink prints are a very premium option for branding glass partitions, we do have a whole lot of other options to do the same. So you might want to have a look at:

  1. Opaque and transparent glass films: As the name suggests, these films can totally cut or fully allow light to pass through your glass partition or building facade. They are widely used for branding in corporate offices. Do click here to know more about printable glass film options.
  2. Frosted glass films: Frosted films impart a rich ‘smoked’ or ‘dusted’ look to your glass panels. They ensure privacy for the people inside the office. And at the same time, these films allow natural light to pass through. These premium grade films will add a touch of class to your office interiors. Do click here to know more about frosted films for branding on glass panels.
  3. One way vision glass films: This is a pretty intelligent idea for branding glass in commercial spaces. You print your branding/product images on the film just as you would, on any regular vinyl print. But when you paste it on a glass partition, this film imparts a dual effect to the same. Customers on the outside, get to see the printed imagery. But employees working inside the office can see outside. This film fulfills a dual purpose of privacy and enabling commercial advertising. Click here to learn more about one-way vision films.


White inks when used judiciously have the potential to enhance the offerings of a print service provider. Also, such a unique solution will help in generating extra revenue. All you need is a little bit of specialised knowledge and equipment to make it work.

Finally, Dear Reader, I would love to hear what you think about this write-up on white inks. So be sure to let us know, in the comments section below. Cheers.

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Printing Knowledge Base

How to Choose the Right Paper for Your Print Job

Guide on How to Choose the Right Paper for Your Print Job

collage of paper sheets having different thicknesses textures gsm matt gloss finish etc interspersed with a stationery clips scissors etc.
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Understand how GSM is used to define paper thickness. Learn the difference between coated, uncoated, and speciality papers

When you discuss a print job with your print service provider, one of the questions that will pop up in the conversation is about which paper to choose, for printing. And any decent print bureau will have a variety of different papers available for you to select from.

The options in front of you will range from thin sheets to thick cards, coated/uncoated stock, and even papers having a textured and metallic finish.

So, before commissioning a print job, it makes sense for you to familiarise yourself with the options that will enable you to choose the right kind of paper for printing. You need to understand the difference between thin papers and thick cards and how paper thickness is formally measured.

As I mentioned above, this knowledge will enable you to choose the right kind of paper or cardstock for the job at hand. More importantly, with the right specifications, you’ll have a fairly accurate idea of the costs to budget for.

With this goal in mind, I have written this short guide on how to choose the right paper for your printing job. And it will answer the following questions…

  1. What are the various thicknesses in which printing paper is available? How is paper thickness measured? Which paper thickness is applicable for which use-case?
  2. What is the difference between coated and uncoated paper? What are their different use case scenarios?
  3. What are the types of speciality papers available in the market?
    In this section, we look at textured and metallic finish sheets of paper. We also cover acid and chlorine-free papers which are eco friendly in nature.

How Is Paper Thickness Measured?

We use thin paper for letterheads or perhaps the inner pages of a diary. We would consider the thick paper for fabricating a box or for making a greeting card. But the words ‘thick’ and ‘thin’ are mere adjectives. And imprecise ones at that.

What is needed is a concrete measure that tells us exactly how thick or thin a sheet of paper is. And this is where GSM or Grams Per Square Meter comes in.

What Is Gsm (Grams per Square Meter) in Paper?

You might be wondering ‘what is the meaning of GSM in paper?’ People in the printing and paper industry use a metric called GSM to measure the thickness of paper.

As the name suggests, you need to cut one square meter of a sheet of paper and find its weight in grams. That is what GSM stands for with respect to printing paper.

The thinner a sheet of paper, the lighter it is going to be, and the lesser it will weigh. For example, if you take a square meter of the paper used for printing bills and invoices and weigh it, you’ll end up with a reading of 70 – 80 grams on the weighing scale.

On the other hand, a thicker sheet of paper (with more material built inside of it) will tip the scales to a higher reading. Sample a square meter of the paper used to make visiting cards, certificates and you’ll get a value between 250 – 300 grams.

GSM or grams per square meter (of a given sheet of paper) is a very reliable indicator of that paper’s thickness. The weight and the sheet’s thickness are directly proportional. As the GSM value increases, so does the paper’s thickness. This is what GSM means, in printing.

sheets of paper of different thicknesses placed one on top of another to show how GSM or grams per square meter is a measure of paper thickness

GSM Chart Showing Papers of Different Thicknesses for Different Applications

Now that you know the answer to ‘what does GSM in paper mean?’, we can move on to the next thing. Viz., which thicknesses are used for what end application?

Paper manufacturers adopted GSM as a standard way of measuring the thickness of a sheet. Accordingly, they manufacture paper stock of particular thicknesses to address various print applications. At a paper merchant’s shop, you will find sheets of paper of 60 gsm, 80 gsm, 170 gsm, and so on.

To make things easier for you to understand, I have created a chart that shows which GSM papers are generally available at a print shop and what their end application could be…

Paper GSM / Grams Per Square Meter Applications Use Cases
60 - 70 GSM
Notebooks, diaries, inner pages of a novel, the paper used in a photocopier
These thin sheets of paper are deployed for multi-page products where the weight and overall bulk needs to be controlled.
80 - 100 GSM
Bill books, letterheads, handouts, receipts
The application here calls for a thin but premium paper. 60 GSM would look a little cheap for letterhead and an invoice printed on 130 GSM would be difficult to fold.
130 - 170 GSM
While this category is not as thick as a card it still has a nice premium feel.
250 - 300 GSM
These thick card sheets have a very premium and hefty feel. They cannot be easily torn or crumpled.
benefits of using coated paper as against uncoated paper
benefits of using un-coated paper as against coated paper

What is the Difference Between Coated and Uncoated Paper?

A print bureau will offer you a choice between coated or uncoated paper for your print job. So let’s try to understand the difference between the two.

Coated paper generally has a matt or glossy finish. They have a very premium look and feel. Paper manufacturers apply a thin layer of clay on top of the base paper. They use a machine having a knife-like edge to spread the clay on the base surface. The paper is then passed through rollers to even out the coat.

The manufacturing process notwithstanding, coated papers are generally costlier and used for high-end applications. A glossy magazine containing high-resolution photographs would probably be printed on 90 -130 GSM coated paper. This is because the extra coating enables better image reproduction.

Coated papers (both matt and gloss) are widely used for commercial applications like brochures and leaflets, where making an impression on the client is important. Coated papers do have one disadvantage though – it’s difficult to write on them with a pen or pencil.

Uncoated papers, on the other hand, can easily be written upon. We are all familiar with the pages in our school notebooks and training manuals. Applications like letterheads and bills/invoices call for the use of uncoated paper. Similarly, paper used for sketching and painting purposes has to be uncoated. Many customers also prefer uncoated stock for its more natural look and rough feel.

Uncoated paper is also less expensive than the coated alternative. Hence, it is the material of choice for low-end applications like printing a newspaper.

a collection of papers having different textures that can be used for digital printing
Image printed on a paper having a linen texture finish. The pattern looks very much like the weave on linen cloth

Speciality Papers

As a customer, you should also be aware that print services bureaus can provide speciality papers to cater to more esoteric applications. For example, speciality papers can include…

  1. Textured Papers: Papers with textured surfaces add their own unique dimension to the print job. These papers make prints stand out and look very rich. High end invites and greetings are reproduced on the textured stock. Paintings too, look great on paper having a canvas finish. We have a separate post listing the various textured paper options available at Orchid Digitals here.
  2. Metallic Finish Papers: These papers have a metallic tint and shine. Options available are gold (light and dark), silver, copper, etc. Like the textured option listed above, these papers too, lend a unique and premium look to the print job. At Orchid Digitals, we also provide metallic finish stickers that are used for manufacturing high-end labels.

Archival paper is yet another type of speciality paper which is explained in detail below.

Premium looking stickers printed on a gold finish paper. Attractive metallic labels for Mr. Milk product cartons to draw buyer attention
Silver metallic labels of the Bee Basket food company make for a very premium looking sticker

What is Archival / Acid-Free Paper?

Archival paper as the name suggests is paper that can be stored for very long periods of time, without having to worry about the paper oxidizing or degrading even after decades of use.

All of us have seen paper yellowing with age. In fact, low-grade newsprint (used for printing our daily newspaper) will yellow in a single afternoon if left out in the sun. Writing paper used for stationery may take longer to age. But eventually, most sheets of paper will oxidize, lose their whiteness, and become brittle.

But certain documents need to be preserved for years if not decades. Legal documents, museum prints, historical treaties, share certificates, paintings, etc. are some examples that come to mind. And in such cases, using regular paper will not help.

Paper pulp in its natural form is off-white or even brown in color. Manufacturers use a bleaching agent (like chlorine) to whiten the sheets. But this bleaching process increases the acidity of paper which results in brittleness and cracking over longer periods of time.

To make the paper more durable, manufacturers use other (much costlier) whitening agents and also increase the rag content of the pulp. This ensures that the sheet remains supple for decades and even centuries.

This alternative paper is also called acid free paper. Manufacturing it puts less of a burden on the environment and so, acid-free paper is also chosen by ecologically conscious customers.


There are hundreds of types of papers available in the market. And while you do not need to conduct an in-depth study on this subject, it will pay to have a general awareness about the same. Consult with your printer before commissioning a job. He should be able to guide you into making the right choice.

Most good print suppliers will also stock most of the variants of paper listed above. And if a particular paper is not readily available, you can still ask your print supplier to source the same from a paper mill or paper stockist.

To conclude, this little effort in choosing the right sheet of paper will ensure that you get the best printing output for an optimal cost.

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Printing Knowledge Base

Variable Data Printing

What is variable data printing?

Example of how variable data printing is used to personalize certificates. Different names from a database are inserted programmatically in the artwork using VDP software
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Learn how mail merging can hyper personalise your print jobs.

Variable Data Printing is a simple but elegant solution to personalize prints for their intended recipients. It harnesses the strengths of digital printing to generate hyper-personalized print jobs using mail merge printing software.

To fully exploit the advantages of VDP / variable printing, we first need to understand the gap created by traditional printing techniques.

Offset and screen printing techniques have been around for centuries. And they are absolutely fantastic when it comes to delivering mass quantities of the same print image, like a flyer or leaflet.

But the screen and offset printers suffer from one major drawback. They cannot generate single or individually unique images/prints. You cannot deploy an offset printer to print out just one letter for a single individual recipient. And to do so, you need to deploy variable digital printing on a laser or inkjet printer.

standard form letter template bearing different recipients names created using VDP software. Mail merge technology makes direct marketing a breeze

What Is Variable Data Printing?

There exist certain situations where you need variable data printing services to print vast quantities of prints having the same layout/design. Yet each of these prints differs from the previous one because of the data it contains. Here is an example to understand this situation –

Imagine a blank school mark sheet. The mark sheet template will have static information like the name of the school at the top of the page, the principal’s signature at the bottom, and rows or columns containing the name of subjects the students are being tested for.

And while this mark sheet template remains the same for all the students, the data within changes from print to print. Each mark sheet will bear a different student’s name, his individual marks, and grades. And to create individually unique mark-sheets, we need VDP printing, also known as variable data printing services.

In a manner of speaking, we need to execute a mass variable printing job of hundreds if not thousands of similarly laid out mark sheets. The artwork for these prints remains the same across all recipients. But the content for each of these prints is going to change on a person to person basis.

This process of merging discrete user data with a standard design template, to generate hyper-personalized prints in vast quantities, is known as Variable Data Printing or VDP for short.

VDP software can even merge different photos in a standard design template. Here is a example of a direct marketing mailer bearing names and images of the recipients
Mail merge or variable data printing softwares help to print per

Situations Where Variable Data Printing Is Necessary

Think of the following printing applications…

  1. You need to print birthday invites bearing different names of the recipients
  2. You have to create mark sheets or report cards having different student data
  3. Your customer wants parking stickers with different vehicle registration numbers
  4. You have to generate address labels for a wedding invitation
  5. For printing bibs for marathons, since the print orders often arrive at the 11th minute
  6. Share certificates or tickets bearing distinctive numbers
  7. Award certificates containing awardee names and ranks

In each of the above cases, you will find two things:

  1. A static artwork in the background
  2. Variable data within that artwork that keeps changing. This variable data could be in the form of…
    1. Changing names and addresses on the invites and mass mailers
    2. Serial numbers on tickets and share certificates
    3. Vehicle registration numbers on parking stickers
    4. Marks and grades in a school report card
    5. Grades, 1st, 2nd, 3rd rank, and categories like the male, female in a certificate

And both the above components are brought together by variable data printing companies to serve up a finished product.

marathon bib contents like runner number, name, race category, sponsors' name, organizer logo, etc.
variable data needed from organisers to print on the marathon bibs

How Are Variable Data Printing Jobs Processed at a Print Shop?

To execute a VDP / variable data printing job, a client needs to provide two things to the print provider…

  1. The original, static design template or artwork. This can be in the form of a .pdf file, a .eps file, a CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator file. You can even create design templates in word processors like MS Word.
  2. Secondly, you also need to share a separate data file containing the information that changes on a print by print basis. This data file would contain individual names, addresses, phone numbers, photos, etc. that need to be incorporated in the standard design template. For most print shops, data in MS Excel format will work fine. But other databases like .csv files are supported as well.

With the above two files in hand, the print service bureau will map the individual fields in the database to the relevant locations on the design template. For example, in our mark sheet job, marks for history have to show up in the history column. Student names have to show up at the top, grades have to be reproduced at a particular location at the bottom, and so on.

Once this field mapping is done, we upload both the excel database file and the base design template to the digital printer.

The machine then merges these two files to create a single file with multiple pages. For example, if we have a hundred students’ names and marks in our data file, the digital printer will create one file with a hundred different pages.

Each of these pages will have the same basic layout but different names and marks.

All we now have to do is hit the ‘print’ button and the digital printer starts outputting a highly personalized VDP job.

vehicle parking stickers personalised with variable data like the name of the society, parking bay numbers, expiry date, serial number etc.

The Benefits of VDP - Variable Data Printing

Digital print providers can create huge value addition for their clients by leveraging two features of their machines – Mass production + Individual personalization.

Moreover, this technology is machine-independent. It can be deployed on both, a sheet-fed laser printer or a wide-format inkjet printer. This means that VDP can be extended to small-sized certificates and even large-sized posters. The benefits of VDP include…

  1. A high level of personalization: The recipient of a VDP print feels that the invite or mass mailer has been printed exclusively for him because it contains data tailored to his needs.
  2. A reduction in work: There is no longer any need to print out blank forms, certificates, etc. which later on have to be filled in by hand. The machine does everything.
  3. Aesthetic look: Since we have design software at play, the machine can do this in a very beautiful way. By this, I mean that we can incorporate attractive fonts and colors in the VDP job.
  4. Value addition: Finally, any solution that makes life easy for the end customer is also going to prove to be beneficial to the print service provider in the long run.

Closing Note

Digital printing machines are highly technical pieces of equipment. But many print vendors keep running these machines on their default settings to generate standardized output.

On the other hand, some of us also tweak these settings to generate significant value addition to open up new streams of revenue. VDP is one such example of extending a machine’s originally intended capabilities.

At Orchid Digitals, apart from basic printing, our machines also include value add-ons like shape cutting, raised effect printing, white layer printing, reverse printing, etc.

Every good digital print service provider has certain ideas or ‘tricks’ up his sleeve to speed up a job, increase print quality, or give the print a different form altogether. So do share your tips or thoughts in the comments section below, for I would absolutely love to hear what you have to say. Cheers.

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Advertising & Branding in Retail Outlets Printing Case Studies

Royal Canin | In-Store Branding

Royal Canin | In-Store Branding Case Study

royal canin logo with dog pic
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Pet Shops All Over Pune, Branded by the Royal Canin Colors

Mr. Ravikant Upadrasta of Royal Canin Pet Foods needed to ramp up his product visibility. As the name suggests, Royal Canin specialises in foods for dogs and cats. This is a highly competitive sector. Also, it really pays off for your brand to be recognised. Because once a pet owner switches to your brand, s/he remains a customer for a long time to come.

So, to increase his product visibility, Mr. Upadrasta identified a number of point of sale locations. These included:

  1. Veterinarian clinics
  2. Groceries & departmental stores
  3. Supermarkets
  4. Pet shops
Backlit Glowsign board for a Royal Canin store

The Store Branding Solutions Offered Included…

There was a wide variance in the point of sale locations. Each of these locations needed different branding locations. To that extent, Orchid Digitals provided a gamut of solutions to brand the interiors and exteriors of these stores. The services we provided included:

  1. Flex printed backlit glow sign shop boards
  2. One way vision films for glass partitions and frontages
  3. Photo vinyl prints mounted on sun board

Images from this Store Branding Exercise

backlit flex board installed at a royal canin outlet
shop board advertising royal canin products installed at their outlet
glass film prints for a store front advertising royal canin dog food products
instore branding using a vinyl print pasted above a goods display rack

Closing Note

Orchid Digitals provides a wide range of in-store branding services to shops across Pune. Be it a store-front, a glow sign shop board or the interiors of an outlet, we’ve got you covered. Do have a look at our end-to-end store branding services on this page here.

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Advertising & Branding in Retail Outlets Printing Case Studies

Godrej & Boyce | In-Store Branding

Godrej Boyce | In-Store Branding

godrej and boyce locks
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Hardware outlets in Pune spruced up with snazzy product images

Mr. Sushil Thakur of Godrej & Boyce Company is in charge of the retail selling of hardware items like locks, doorknobs, drawer slides etc.

His products need visibility at various POS/point of sale locations around the city. These included hardware stores where the end-user, fitter or carpenter walks in and makes a ‘buy’ decision.

Orchid Digitals branded about 10 stores for him. We gave him a solution for printing and installing the following:

Images from this Store Branding Exercise

printed self adhesive vinyl used to brand the frontage of a hardware store
sunboard prints for point of sale branding at a harware store
sunboard print pasted on a pillar of a store showing product images of godrej and boyce products
self adhesive printed vinyls bearing product images pasted on the wall of a shop
instore branding using product pictures printed on foamsheet drilled on to the wall
product images of godrej boyce locks printed on sunboard and pasted on a wall of a retail harware store

Closing Note

Orchid Digitals provides a wide range of in-store branding services to shops across Pune. Be it a store-front, a glow sign shop board or the interiors of an outlet, we’ve got you covered. Do have a look at our end-to-end store branding services on this page here.

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Advertising & Branding in Retail Outlets Printing Case Studies

Johnson-n-Johnson | In-Store Branding

Johnson-n-Johnson | In-Store Branding Case Study

flex printed back lit glow sign board installed at a pharmacy
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JnJ Product Images Displayed on the Shopfront of Virtually Every Pharmacy in Pune

Johnson & Johnson (J&J) the big pharma giant was launching a product called ‘One Touch’. This is a blood sugar meter to be used by diabetics.

So a mass advertising campaign was planned, to educate the public about this product. And one of the advertising efforts included showcasing this product at pharmacies across the city.

Orchid Digitals’ mandate was to install backlit glow signboards at pharmacies in Pune. The company demanded a turnkey solution. Here is how we went about executing the job.

ultra easy blood glucose meter from Johnson and Johnson

Stage 1

  • Site check and photos of all proposed locations where the boards were to be installation
  • Measurements of the boards
  • Creating a report with costs of the above

Stage 2

  • Artwork adaptation of the ‘One Touch’ brand to fit in the measured sizes
  • Artwork approval and implementation of corrections (if any)

Stage 3

  • Board fabrication, transportation and on-site installation
  • Photographic evidence of the finished job

In all, we branded approximately 150 stores in the city. The job took 15 days from start to finish.

Images from this Store Branding Exercise

store branding involves branding on the exteriors in the form of main shop board branding
shop boards installed at the mauli medical store
glowsign board installed at shree guru ganesh medical
GSB for Shree Sai medical sponsored by JnJ
flex printed shop name board with backlights for a pharmacy
GSB fitting for vardhaman medical
glow sign board for a medical storee outlet
shop sign board for a road side retail store

Closing Note

Orchid Digitals provides a wide range of in-store branding services to shops across Pune. Be it a store-front, a glow sign shop board or the interiors of an outlet, we’ve got you covered. Do have a look at our end-to-end store branding services on this page here.

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Advertising & Branding in Retail Outlets Printing Case Studies

Streax | In-Store Branding

Streax | In-Store Branding to Highlight Their Products at POS Locations

Front lit shop board and glass film prints used for product advertising at the Streax beauty saloon
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Beauty Salons Beautified Using Our Sunboard & Glass Film Prints

The cosmetics and hair colouring brand ‘Streax’ is sold by Hygienic Research Institute. And as with all retail products the ‘Streax’ brand needs visibility at the stores where it is stocked.

Beauty salons are a typical point of sale (POS) locations where in-store branding is carried out extensively. Orchid Digitals provided the shop branding solution to this company. We branded about 15 of their outlets here in Pune.

store branding done at a streax beauty salon using photo vinyl with sunboard pasted on the wall
photo print advertising streax products pasted on the wall of a beauty salon

The Store Branding Solutions Offered Included…

Procedure Followed to Execute This Store Branding Project

  1. Site recce to check sizes and locations available for branding
  2. Design adaptation as per the available sizes
  3. Costings to be arrived per store and for all stores in total
  4. Printing the job upon receiving approval
  5. Installation of the prints
  6. Photographic evidence to show job execution

Images from this Store Branding Exercise

roll up standee provided to a streax beauty salon to increase brand visibility
roll up stand for Streax beauty Salon

Closing Note

Orchid Digitals provides a wide range of in-store branding services to shops across Pune. Be it a store-front, a glow sign shop board or the interiors of an outlet, we’ve got you covered. Do have a look at our end-to-end store branding services on this page here.

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