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Question and Answer

UV Film Casting

by Staff

November-December, 2012
UV film casting, also referred to as Cast & Cure™, is a high-speed UV coating process that creates a clear holographic pattern over all types of printed materials. The process utilizes a specialty film with micro-embossed patterns. Once the UV coating is applied, the film is placed over the top of the coating and then cured. After curing, the film is stripped away, leaving a holographic effect on the sheet or web. Because there is no actual transfer of the film to the printed surface, the film can be reused several times before new film is needed. InsideFinishing consulted with industry experts Tim Cain, president of Breit Technologies, Inc., and Gary Jones, national sales manager for ITW Foils, to provide answers to common questions about UV film casting films and the process.

Q: Which applications are the best fit for UV film casting?
According to Jones, UV film casting’s appeal lies in its universality – it can be applied to anything from book covers to brand collateral, labels, packaging and beyond. “It is typically chosen in cases where dynamic brand differentiation is required, but cost-efficiency and speed-to-shelf are key,” explained Jones. “It also can be advantageous for shorter-run projects.”

Breit Technologies, which has trademarked the brand name ‘Cast and Cure™’ for its film casting technology, traditionally found UV film casting to be a carton application. “It is ideally suited for this market as it provides the shelf impact the consumer desires, while providing the flexibility in design, low cost point and environmental benefits needed in today’s marketplace,” said Cain. “Recent expansions of Cast and Cure into pressure-sensitive labels, flexible films and shrink materials show the broad range of applications to which the process can be applied.”

Q: What are the benefits of UV film casting for the security/counterfeiting industry?
Cain explained, “Cast and Cure can be used as a security or brand protection tool for all markets, and it can be applied in a spot application to provide a unique holographic application without the cost of a custom pattern creation.”

Some companies, such as ITW Foils, offer UV casting films that can be customized to include micro-text and covert imagery. “Custom holography is one of the most effective methods of brand-protection because it is nearly impossible replicate, particularly in the case of covert or machine-readable imagery and text,” Jones stated.

Q: Why is UV film casting a sustainable process? 
As Jones explained, UV film casting is a highly efficient holography process in which effects are applied directly to printed sheets on press by means of a reusable holographic film and a UV varnish, which is dried by UV light. Unlike other holographic options, this process creates an illusion, with no actual transfer of substance. UV-casted boards and papers contain no film, so they are recyclable and compostable, assuming all other products and processes used are sustainable as well. The production process itself also does not emit Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs).

Cain also pointed out that, in addition to the recyclability factor, the film used in the process can be used several times. Reusing the film means that less material is needed, so less material is shipped, reducing transportation effects on the environment.

Q: Are UV film casting units versatile in terms of machinery options?
“With minor mechanical adjustments, most UV film casting units can apply cold foil as well,” Jones said, “but, cold foil units typically cannot apply UV casting.” As Cain went on to explain, “Some cold foil units are designed to work with conventional cold foil materials, and these units do not have the necessary nipping and curing units needed to perform Cast and Cure™.” There are several machinery options in the marketplace that can apply film casting in-line with both sheet-fed and flexography printing presses, as well as stand-alone units to apply film casting off-line on printed materials.

Q: What tips should designers be aware of prior to choosing UV film casting?
UV film casting most often is utilized over inks and cold foils, but also can be used over certain hot stamping foils. It is compatible with clear label, wet label, coated paper, paperboard, film, heat-sensitive material and shrink film. UV film casting typically is the last on-press process, applied over inks. To enhance image durability, a final overcoating may be recommended.

ITW Foils provided the following design tips to ensure optimal results:

  • UV film casting can be done as spot application and applied in register to any artwork, allowing for interesting and subtle enhancement opportunities. It also is effective for full holographic coverage. 
  • When using stock patterns, only one pattern can be run in a pass, unless using a custom film. Although pattern areas can register to artwork, the pattern elements themselves will not register. To register a holographic image directly to overprinting, a custom-registered holographic substrate is necessary.
  • The combination of cold foil and UV film casting can be a fast and affordable way to simulate the look of holographic metallic substrates. Generally, cold foiling and UV casting do not run in the same pass, although it is possible with an adequate number of print stations.
  • The subtle light diffraction of UV film casting looks particularly striking on dark or vivid colors. 
  • UV casting films are available in many stock holographic (diffraction) patterns, as well as in custom patterns. For more understated applications, the popular “rainbow” diffraction provides a subtly undulating spectrum on the print surface.
InsideFinishing would like to thank Tim Cain, president of Breit Technologies (www.breit-tech.com) and Gary Jones, national sales manager at ITW Foils (www.itwfoils.com) for their assistance with this article.