A patented process which allows printers to print millions of metallic colors and special effects in only one pass of a five-color press is beginning to make its mark. Developed by a former British repro company near Leeds, West Yorkshire, MetalFX Technology was formed over a year ago to market the MetalFX process and spot metallic color system. In November it was the winner of the Innovation of the Year Award at the prestigious National Business Awards 2003 held in London.
Its business partner is Wolstenholme International, makers of metallic pigments and inks with headquarters in Darwen, Lancashire. It claims that MetalFX is cost effective because only one ink is used instead of multiple spot metallic colors. Print buyers can use as many metallic colors as they like on a wide range of different substrates. The company is represented in the USA by MD-Both Industries in West Chicago (www.mdboth.com).
Potential users of the licensed process pay only for the silver MetalFX base ink, upon which the usual CMYK colors are printed as a seal to create numerous metallic effects on UV flexo, gravure or offset print platforms. The high-tack base ink works with conventional CMYK ink sets, but with tack levels adjusted to match that of the silver ink. Using the predominantly opaque silver on the first unit, the CMYK’s semi transparency allows the silver to show through and create vibrant metallic colors. Variants include LiteFx and HoloFX, both of which use different amounts of metallic silver to make the text disappear and reappear according to light exposure.
Wolstenholme's MetalFX division is carrying out trials with packaging printers and has published a swatch book for designers containing 615 different colors. Safeway has used the technology for some premium Christmas ranges, while other brand owners, including Procter & Gamble, have undertaken trials.
The OPM Group based in Keighley, West Yorkshire, is the first label converter to use the new technology. It has produced filmic labels printed UV flexo for a range of household cleaning products. The labels contain various metallic silvers and blues that complement such shiny objects as stainless steel sinks and ceramic hobs. “Printing the labels in MetalFX allowed us to use metallic colors like never before, and then accurately reproduce the wide variety of metallic hues that our clients’ designs required,” says Darren Kaye, sales and marketing manager.