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Wide-format Printing: A growing market for lenticular displays

This 6 x 1.8-m (20 x 6-ft) mural for Quebecor comprises seven phased 1.2 x 1.8-m (4 x 6-ft.) lenticular tiles, mounted on a 3-mm (0.12-in.) aluminum composite backing and braced with an aluminum frame. Photo courtesy Softmotion

This 6 x 1.8-m (20 x 6-ft) mural for Quebecor comprises seven phased 1.2 x 1.8-m (4 x 6-ft.) lenticular tiles, mounted on a 3-mm (0.12-in.) aluminum composite backing and braced with an aluminum frame. Photo courtesy Softmotion

By Guy Brisson
Three-dimensional (3-D) effects are in vogue these days, with advanced technology yielding a deluge of 3-D movies, TVs, video games and cameras. In keeping with this trend, many out-of-home (OOH) and point-of-purchase (POP) marketers are also trying to convey their messages in 3-D to better attract attention. One medium for these efforts has been lenticular imagery, which allows a flat, static sign to achieve the illusion of dimensionality, dynamism and even brief animation.

Lenticular prints are not new; they span back more than 60 years. New generations of substrates, however, have moved what was once a ‘novelty’ process into the reach of a greater number of printing applications. Central to this shift has been the development of a sophisticated digital workflow, which can help commoditize what were previously highly proprietary and expensive techniques.

Nevertheless, high-quality lenticular imaging remains a challenging discipline to master, rather than a simple add-on product line for any comprehensive sign shop or print service provider (PSP).

Lenticular images were created to serve as product backdrops for a Versace store’s window displays in New York, N.Y. Photos courtesy Margeaux Walter NYC

Lenticular images were created to serve as product backdrops for a Versace store’s window displays in New York, N.Y. Photos courtesy Margeaux Walter NYC

Creating illusions
A lenticular print is a graphic that is specially designed to work with a lens to allow passersby to view different images from different angles. The graphic is thus a composite of two or more images interlaced together.

The plastic lens is made up of individual lenticules. Based on the viewing angle, each lenticule acts like a magnifying glass, enlarging each portion of the image for display. Working together, the lenticules create the entire range of imagery.

It is because the viewer’s left eye and right eye view printed graphics at slightly different angles that lenticular imagery can create a sense of motion—including up to 1.5 seconds of animation—and depth. The lenticules are positioned vertically to accommodate the necessary bipolar disparity. The human brain then processes the multiple perspectives into a single 3-D image.

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In ‘volumetric 3-D’ applications, the images are not only layered like pieces of flat cardboard, but also given fuller shape. This enables both the illusion of depth and more natural contours.

Graphics in motion
With respect to the wide-format digital inkjet printing sector, opportunities for lenticular displays have grown in the POP market, where new poster-size output is constantly needed to help promote newly released products. Advertising agencies have shown great fondness for the benefits of lenticular work.

Today’s shoppers are faced with hundreds of choices as they stroll along retail aisles. In a recent independent study, tests were conducted to measure product sales using static and motion displays. The results showed sales volumes increased by an average of 56 per cent when stores implemented static displays, but up to 107 per cent when using motion displays.

Short animated sequences can now be conveyed from beginning to end in a single lenticular display.

Short animated sequences can now be conveyed from beginning to end in a single lenticular display.

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It is therefore not surprising retailers tend to prefer dynamic displays. A three-year independent marketing study surveyed store managers and found 65 per cent of them wanted advertisers’ in-store marketing campaigns to provide motion displays.

The store managers themselves often determine the success or failure of advertising on the basis of installation location. At the retail level, documentation shows 88 per cent of all motion displays achieve prime placements, helping maximize the return on advertising dollars.

In some of these cases, digital signage is implemented, but it is an expensive medium for most POP placements, some of which are not connected directly to an electricity source. Lenticular displays are more easily swapped out with other POP graphics.

In the broader OOH arena, meanwhile, lenticular images have been used for some transit shelter posters and as dynamic portions of billboards. Interest in the medium is also emerging for what signmakers would consider less traditional applications, including museum exhibits, fine art and architectural elements, such as the permanent lenticular murals and wallcoverings that have been installed in large facilities like casinos and airports.

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