If you ever collected pogs, those small, round, lenticular plastic discs popular in the early 1990s, you had your hands on a product from Optigraphics (UPIC: OPTI2000). This Dallas, Texas-based supplier is the originator of the sports coin—a.k.a. the pog.
Today, the company doesn’t churn out many pogs, but it does offer some serious promotional eye candy: lenticular processes that add instant pizzazz to any promotion.
Simply put, it’s 3-D printing for in-pack and on-pack promotions, value-added packaging, direct-mail and even apparel.
“Our product won’t come up on a weekly basis; it’ll come up three or four times a year,” explains Brad Bartlett, president. “But when companies need something special—maybe an invitation, direct-mail piece or insert—lenticular is a fabulous option.”
Don’t expect stock images from Optigraphics—everything is designed from scratch. “The biggest concern I get from distributors is that they don’t know how to prepare the artwork for a lenticular piece,” Bartlett says.
Cue the pre-press team. This experienced group of Mac operators helps with the design and pre-flights the submitted artwork, making sure it’s the right size and resolution to achieve the desired effect.
From there, they develop a prototype and interlace the files. In this process, a worker lays a grid over the top of a picture, slicing the image into various slivers depending on the number of phases it will have.
Different bars allow viewers to see certain frames at certain times. A lens is laid over the top, acting like a decoder that deciphers the grid. As viewers move the piece, they see only certain parts of the picture.
“We can spend hours making files 3-D,” Bartlett says. “It takes a special kind of expertise. And since we’ve been doing this for 42 years, we understand the concept and techniques.”
After pre-press, the piece goes to the CREO machine. Here, the film is output and the proofs are put together for customer review. Once they’re approved, it’s press time. A Kodak polychrome machine outputs the plates and prepares them for the press.
“Our presses are all UV, which means that when the substrate is printed, a UV lamp immediately cures the ink,” Bartlett explains. “This allows for high speed and beautiful quality.”
After a sheet is printed, it’s coated with adhesive, and a lens is applied by patented machines to make it animate.
Small, short runs head to a KBA Genius Press to print. Large-format jobs go to a Jedi machine, which is essentially a flat-bed printer capable of producing pieces up to four-feet by eight-feet. “It allows us to create large lenticular panels that can be tiled together or used in a tradeshow or outdoor display,” notes Bartlett.
Custom routers on the machines can create custom grooves and channels, which are particularly popular for the specialty, one-of-a-kind pieces often requested for the cosmetics market.
Lenticular packaging no doubt adds sparkle to anything from lip gloss to electronics, but any client can benefit from the extra pizzazz that comes with a 3-D promotion.
ABOVE A pressman checks registration
Optigraphics At A Glance
Established in: 1970
Headquarters: Dallas, Texas
Factory size: 100,000 square feet. The building was once an office-supply store.
Most detailed job: A table placemat that took more than three years in the art origination and concept stage
Busy season: April through June
Longest-running project: 28 years of designing space-themed book covers for a PPAI member in Germany