What we can sense seems real to us, and the more we sense it, the more it becomes tied to our memory. Seeing something can tie it to memory, but seeing it, smelling it and touching it at the same time will make it stand out. When you’re trying to make a lasting impression in a short period of time, it’s a good idea to play with as many of the senses as you can. When it comes to documents, that can mean a lot of different things. Adding colour is a good way of making something stand out visually, and adding a metallic sheen can make your logo catch everyone’s attention. Adding a tactile component to a business card or invitation brings it to the next level by engaging more of the recipients senses; that’s where raised inks come in handy.
Raised inks are different from embossing, the other traditional way of adding a tactile element to documentation. With embossing, the stock itself becomes raised (or depressed, in the case of debossing); when you flip the document around, you can still see the change in texture. This can create a wonderful effect, but it can be expensive, and it’s problematic if your document is two sided, because the depression on the other side will warp anything printed there. Raised inks, conversely, do not affect the stock; only the ink itself is raised, so you get the tactile and visual effect of a raised surface without the potential downsides of raised stock.
The raised ink effect is achieved through a process known as thermographic printing. A powder is poured onto a document while the ink on the document is still wet; this powder adheres to the wet ink. The paper is then brought through a vacuum that removes all of the powder that did not adhere to the wet ink, so only the ink will be raised. Finally, the document is placed into an oven at very high temperatures for two or three seconds; the powder begins to melt, then solidifies, raising the ink.
Raised ink is typically used for cards; business cards, wedding invitations, thanks yous and other small documents that are meant to leave a lasting impression quickly. That said, you could ostensibly used raised ink for all kinds of different things; advertising, packaging, whatever you set your mind to! You could even used raised ink for invoicing; that way, when you get bored of writing invoice after invoice, you can distract yourself by touching the raised ink and feeling how cool it is! (Note: This is probably more expensive than it’s worth).
Tactile invoices aside, effective business cards are still the number one reason to use raised ink. You’ll generally be handing someone the business card yourself, and they’ll be able to feel the ink almost immediately; that creates a full sensory experience in which they’ll see you, see your card, feel your handshake, feel the raised ink, and remember you. What more could you ask for?