Global effect pigment specialist Merck has collaborated with Switzerland-based UV coatings and technologies supplier Schmid Rhyner to further the development and commercialisation of its virtual embossing (VE3D) technology.

The partnership also aims to develop a new optical 3D solution, which will use Merck’s effect pigment technology, for the packaging market.

Currently used for various printing applications, Merck’s patented VE3D technology enables the development of 3D optics that enhance the appearance of printed package components, such as cartons and paper labels.

The technology gives images, graphics and text elements a 3D appearance on a completely flat printed surface. The special depth effect is created inline during the printing process.

"VE3D technology offers package designers and brand manufacturers a further unique opportunity to distinctively position themselves in the market with their premium products."

According to Merck, the VE3D technology can be used in UV flexo and UV gravure printing as well as in offset coating.

It also makes complex, additional processes superfluous, which were previously needed to produce a 3D effect.

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Merck pigments and functional materials head Friedhelm Felten said: “The strategic cooperation with Schmid Rhyner gives us the opportunity not only to commercialise our technology better, but also to further develop this innovative printing process with effect pigments for various surfaces and markets in the coming years.”

The company has already used a 3D process that is similar to its VE3D process for manufacturing plastic package components in an injection moulding process.

Schmid RhynerCEO Jakob Rohner said: “VE3D technology fits our portfolio perfectly. It offers package designers and brand manufacturers a further unique opportunity to distinctively position themselves in the market with their premium products.”

The company’s products include Touch & Feel Relief / Raised Effect, a 3D printing solution that creates relief heights of up to 30ìm, and others that help improve boxes, cartons and labels used for food, luxury food and non-food products.