Fathom Optics’ Light Field Technology Software Adds Motion & Dimension, Easy as Spot Color

Every once in a while, something comes along that is so different, it makes things interesting again.

Examples in the flexographic industry include laser-engraved ceramic anilox rollers, as well as plates moving to photopolymer and then to flat top dots.

Similarly, embellishments have undergone the same evolutionary process:

  • Color is no longer sufficient to capture engagement on its own
  • Tactile varnishes and holographic coatings capture consumer attention on the shelf
  • Lenticular lenses continually push for acceptance in the marketplace but their cost, thickness, complexity of design and printing, and incompatibility with many substrates repeatedly knock them out of consideration

But a completely new technology has entered the embellishment arena. Fathom Optics was founded in 2015 out of doctoral research projects by Tom Baran and Matthew Hirsch at MIT. The company has created software that uses light field technology to create the motion and depth effects of lenticular lenses and holograms.

What is unique is that light fields don’t require any additional consumables in the printing process beyond what is already used for many label and packaging constructions. This lower cost enables access for brands at all levels.

You can see examples of Fathom Effects on the belly band that accompanies this issue of FLEXO Magazine. It was printed just weeks after FTA selected Fathom’s Light Field Technology Software as a recipient of its 2021 Technical Innovation Award in the Prepress/Graphics category.

Fathom Optics Weiss BellyBandPic-Designer01
Fathom designer Niko Arranz works on the belly band design in Adobe Illustrator.
All photos courtesy of Fathom Optics

Baran, Fathom’s CEO, expresses pride in receiving the honor: “This award recognizes that we are on the right path in our mission to help narrow web converters add revolutionary motion graphic capabilities to their offerings, using the equipment, materials and ink that they’re already working with.”