KURZ on colour trends, sustainability and recyclability of stamping foils
Metallic effects are very popular in the publishing industry, a cover using a metallic colour or a foil finish usually attracts more readers and stands out in the book shop. Magazines often use gold and silver on the front cover for their December or Christmas issues. Looking at packaging items you will also come across many products with a sparkly finish: from cosmetic and perfumes to chocolate bars and wine bottles.
I can't remember how many books I produced in the past with foiling and metallic colours on the front cover or sometimes even front, spine and back cover, it's been quite a few, for sure. Often it was just a gold and silver shade but over the years coloured and holographic foils became more popular and suppliers have regularly added new colours and shades to their portfolios.
To get some insight on current trends, sustainability and recyclability I talked to KURZ, one of the main suppliers of foils to the book industry and pioneer in the stamping technology.
In the past few years we’ve seen a big increase on foil on book covers, magazines, advertising and packaging products. Do you see any trends in colour and optical effects such as holofoils?
This depends on the material of the book cover. For synthetic leather and woven fabrics or linen classic gold and silver shades are mostly used. For paper backs there is a bigger variety of designs. The lettering is also often in gold or silver, but transfer products in iridescent rainbow colors are also used. Graphic motifs are also realized with eye catching holographic designs.
Image: TRUSTSEAL® SFX (KURZ PF 149 GR)
Which characteristics are essential in foils used on publishing and advertising products?
The required characteristics depend on the substrate and the motif. If your bookbinding is made from woven fabrics or linen, you need a transfer product with good coverage on cloth bindings, tailored to the rough surface. For synthetic leather book covers and soft PVC you need a different transfer product grade.
If you have fine letters and filigree motifs you need a clean cutting transfer product grade, if you decorate broad areas, the transfer product must be characterised by an easy release and good coverage. For paperback covers you don’t need these special transfer product grades for the bookbinding industry. You can use standard grades for the graphics industry.
How can we imagine the foiling process of a book cover?
Book covers are mostly decorated by hot stamping technology. The transfer product consists of a PET carrier foil with a metallized or pigmented layer. This ultrathin decorative layer is transferred to the substrate with heat and pressure by hot stamping machines.
Image: LUMAFIN® (KURZ PF 021 GR)
How many foils do you produce a year and what is the most popular colour?
KURZ transfer products are used in many different branches. The bookbinding industry is only one of them. As print runs are relatively small, it is one of our smaller markets – but in fact, it has the longest tradition. The KURZ company started as a gold leaf manufacturer in 1899 and the first decorated products were books. Gold and silver tones are still the most popular colors.
A current trend in book production is to use more frequently environmental friendly paper and inks. Is this something KURZ is working on too? Can foils be recyclable at all?
This is an important point. Let’s begin with clarifying terms. The term “foil” is frequently used, but in fact there exists no foil transfer in our technologies, be it hot stamping, cold transfer or digital transfer. There is only an ultrathin aluminum layer transferred. Its thickness is 6,000 to 8,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair. Paper and carton substrates, which are decorated with KURZ transfer products, can be deinked without problems. The INGEDE (International Association of the Deinking Industry) has tested various KURZ transfer products and confirms their deinkability, which is the precondition for the recyclability of paper. So, if a print product is recyclable, our decoration product won’t affect this characteristic.
How does KURZ prepare for more sustainability in products in future?
KURZ has always committed itself towards responsible environmental protection. Our commitment does not only refer to the end product, but to the whole process chain, from production to the transfer process and the disposal. You can read the details here:
Furthermore we have recently developed a process for the recycling of the PET carrier of our decorative layers. Here you’ll find the corresponding press release:
Any new products we can look forward to in the near future?
Of course, KURZ has developed new products, which are interesting for the bookbinding industry. The KURZ design team every year analyzes lifestyle trends and develops new trend colors. Therefrom derive colors that have not been realized before as metallized transfer products, for example a lively fluorescent orange, a matte terracotta or a camouflage green.
For paperback covers there are more new options: a variety of new sparkling holographic continuous designs within the LIGHT LINE® series and the holographic TRUSTSEAL® SFX single images with spectacular 3 D effects. TRUSTSEAL® SFX designs create the illusion, that the motif stands out from the surface like a relief.
Furthermore KURZ has developed a translucent transfer product LUMAFIN®, which lets printed motifs shine through – a very refined effect.
The KURZ Group is a global leader in thin film technology. KURZ develops and manufactures decorative and functional layers applied to carrier foil for a wide range of industries, from the packaging and printing industry through to the automotive, electronics, card and textile sectors. KURZ offers a comprehensive portfolio of products for surface finishing, decoration, labeling, and counterfeit protection, rounded off by an extensive range of stamping machines and stamping tools. The company is also continuously investing in new technologies and developing innovative solutions for integrating functionality into surfaces.
The KURZ Group has more than 5,500 employees at over 30 sites worldwide and produces under standardized quality and environmental standards in Europe, Asia, and the USA. A global network of subsidiaries, representatives and sales offices ensures short paths and individual, on-site consulting.
Image: KURZ Headquarters in Fürth/Germany
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All images © by LEONHARD KURZ Stiftung & Co. KG