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  CHOOSING THE CORRECT LENTICULAR LENS SHEET
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Similar to most items you purchase today, lenticular lens sheets come in many shapes, sizes, types and designs.  Choosing the correct lenticular lens sheet for your application is not rocket science, but is very critical to creating spectacular lenticular images.  There are several questions you should ask yourself to determine which lenticular lens sheet is best for your application.

 

1.  What type of lenticular image do you plan to create?

2.  Will the image be located indoors or outdoors?

3.  What is the size (width by height) of the final image?

4.  What is the viewing distance?

5.  How will the image be printed?

6.  How many images will be printed?

7.  How much does the lenticular sheet cost?

 

1.  What type of lenticular image do you plan to create? 

Most lenticular images fall into one of four different categories:  3D, flip, animation, and morph. 

A 3D image is an image that appears to have virtual depth. 

A flip image is simply an image that changes from one image to another as you walk by the lens sheet or rotate the lens sheet. 

An animation image is simply a multiple flip image made to simulate visual movement. 

A morph image is similar to a flip image except intermediate images are created between the two main images to make the first main image appear to change or morph into the second main image. 

Lenticular lens sheets are designed to enhance certain image characteristics.  In fact, standard lenticular lens sheet designs are broken down into two primary categories, Flip and 3D.  The difference between the two designs is the viewing angle.  A lenticular lens sheet designed for 3D images will have a narrow viewing angle (typically less than 30).  Conversely, a lenticular lens sheet designed for flip images will have a wider viewing angle (typically higher than 40).  Morph and animation images can be considered advanced flip images and will also benefit from a lenticular lens sheet with a higher viewing angle.  Some lenticular lens sheets are designed with viewing angles between 30 and 40.  These lenticular lens sheets are good general purpose lenticular lens sheets but will not provide the optimal results as a lenticular lens sheet designed specifically for your image type. 

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2.  Will the image be located indoors or outdoors?

Lenticular lens sheets are manufactured from a wide variety of plastic resins.  Most lenticular lens sheets are made from one of the following: Acrylic (PMMA), APET, PETG, Polycarbonate, Polypropylene, PVC and Styrene.  If your application is outdoors, you will need a sheet that can withstand UV radiation and a wide temperature range.  Typically, acrylic and polycarbonate sheets are the best for outdoor use.  If your application is indoors, the overall temperature range will be much less and the concern for UV radiation is greatly reduced.  However, depending on your specific location, you may have to consult local fire codes for your particular application.

 

Micro Lens Technology standard lenticular lens sheets are usually made of Acrylic or PETG.  Lenticular lens sheets made of PETG are not recommended for outdoor use because they will yellow over time and may warp at moderately high temperatures (100 F).  However, they are preferred for interior use because they are easier to cut and will not shatter as easily as acrylic sheets.

 

Also remember printing ink and media should be reviewed for its outdoor durability.  Solvent based inks are more durable and will last longer in outdoor applications.  Dye based inks are only recommended for indoor use.

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3.  What is the size (width by height) of the final image?

The size (width by height) of the final image will help to determine the LPI of the lenticular lens sheet for your application.  Typically, as the size of the image increases, the LPI of the lenticular lens sheet will decrease.  The larger the image size, the more difficult it becomes to properly align the lens with the image or printer.  A lower LPI sheet is easier to align than a higher LPI sheet due to its larger lenticule widths.  However, this is not the only question to ask to properly determine the LPI.  Please read on...

 

4.  What is the viewing distance?

The viewing distance is also inversely proportional to the LPI of the lenticular lens sheet.  (See fig. 1)  A shorter viewing distance will typically require a lenticular lens sheet with a higher LPI than a longer viewing distance.  As the viewing distance decreases, the individual lenticules become easier to see and can become distracting to the eye. 

 

FIGURE 1:  LPI vs. Viewing Distance and Image Size

 

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5.  How will the image be printed?

The print method will also determine the lenticular lens sheet used for your application.  Inkjet printing, including the newer flatbed printers, will need large format lenticular lens sheets (60 LPI or less).  The relative lower resolution of inkjet printers require the larger pitch of the lower LPI lenticular lens sheets to accurately create the multiple images of a lenticular image.  Most inkjet printers have a media thickness limitaton of 15-20 mils and the inks will not adhere to plastic sheets without an ink receptive coating added to the sheet.  Therefore, most, if not all, inkjet printed lenticular images are printed to a print media (photo paper or film) and the interlaced image will be laminated to the back of the lenticular lens sheet. 

 

Flatbed printers have the ability to print on media that is much thicker (up to 1 inch thick).  The larger thickness combined with UV curable inks allow them to print directly to the back of the lenticular lens sheet.  However, the resolution of the inkjet nozzles currently allow them to only print up to 30 or 40 LPI.  The resolution of these printers are constantly changing and we expect these to be similar to other inkjet printers within the next couple of years. 

 

Offset printing, on the other hand, has a much higher resolution and can print to much higher LPI lenticular lens sheets.  In fact, the limitation for offset printing is the size (width, height, and thickness) of the lenticular lens sheets.  Most offset presses require small format lenticular sheet (60 LPI or greater).  These sheets are typically less than 35 mills in thickness and less than 28 inches in width. 

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6.  How many images will be printed?

The quantity of images required may also determine the print method, which in turn will determine your lenticular lens sheet choice.  Very high volumes of images will most likely be produced with printing presses.  This means small format lenticular lens sheets (60 LPI and greater) will be used.  Again their limitation is usually the size of the final image.  If the lenticular image is greater than 5-10 square ft., then printing presses may not be an option. 

 

Smaller quantites will be created using inkjet printers on large format lenticular lens sheets (60 LPI and less).

 

7.  How much does the lenticular sheet cost?

Lenticular lens sheet cost should only be used to determine the print method to create the lenticular image.  If the print method is already determined, then cost is not and should not be a factor in determining the correct lenticular lens sheet for your application.

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