Lenticular printing requires exact registration. The smallest shift in registration during a press run will be quite noticeable on the finished piece. Equipment that provides the best possible registration is a must. Described below are three types of printing equipment that are often used for lenticular printing.
1. Direct Imaging Press:
Direct imaging technology provides for the direct transfer of the image from digital files to the image carrier (plate) of the press. A direct imaging press is basically a conventional offset press except that the image carrier (plate) is imaged directly on the press with the use of built-in laser exposure units. The quality and excellent registration achieved with DI presses makes them ideal for lenticular printing.
Some DI presses are used for printing the image on a separate substrate, which is adhered to the plastic lens material after printing. Other DI presses are capable of printing the image directly to the lens material if a UV inking system is used for curing special UV inks onto the plastic surface. For this type of application, it is necessary for the plastic lens material to be thinner than the material used for flatbed systems so that it is able to pass through the printing cylinders of the DI press.
2. Flatbed Inkjet Printer:
Digital images are printed directly to the reverse side of the lens material using special flatbed inkjet printers. Many of these printers are wide-format configurations that are used for large public display pieces. The lens material is positioned upside down in a vacuum frame, which holds it securely while the printing head passes over the material, depositing the ink to create the perfectly registered image.
3. Rollfed Inkjet Printer:
High quality rollfed inkjet printers are used (many of them wide-format) to print the image onto a separate substrate. The printed image is adhered to the back of the plastic lens material, requiring the lines of the printed image to align perfectly with the ribbed lenticules.