The Secret to Apple's Mac OS X Package

Answered by Jay Nelson, Editor and Publisher, Design Tools Monthly

I recently saw the new packaging for Apple's Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system. The printing on the packaging is unique and has a three dimensional look to it. Could you tell me the process by which this may have been printed?

The three-dimensional look is achieved by a combination of modern technological magic and old-fashioned sleight of hand. I'm guessing that you're most impressed with the diffractive substrate, which imparts a groovy multi-dimensional light pattern anywhere it isn't covered by opaque ink.

According to industry expert Hal Hinderliter at, what you're looking at is a "holographic film" applied onto a "PET metalizing film" then covered with a clear layer of lamination film.

NovaVision is a major supplier of this holographic substrate, and their website has plenty of information about how it's made, and how to print on it: They suggest that a designer can achieve a variety of unique and eye-catching effects by using a combination of opaque white intensities, opaque color inks and translucent color inks.

Now for the old-fashioned sleight-of-hand: to get the 3-D raised "X" effect, a spot UV ink is printed over the X. If you put a loupe on the X, you can see the dot pattern of the ink.

Thanks for asking this question. I was curious myself, and I'm sure that many other people wonder about it as well.

This question was answered by Jay Nelson, Publisher & Editor, Design Tools Monthly. We love DTM's tips and advice and think you will, too. For a free sample PRINTED issue, contact Design Tools Monthly at 303-543-8400, e-mail, or go to their website:
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