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Blog Articles for PrintIndustry.com

Archive for July, 2013

Brochure Printing: No More Z-Fold Self-Mailers

Monday, July 29th, 2013

I had a close call with a print brokering client recently, and it has made me doubly certain that US Postal updates are vital reading material and not spam.

The Problem with the Fold

In a recent blog I mentioned that a client has been producing a Z-fold (or accordion fold) brochure yearly for a few years now. It has been a self-mailer, closed on both the top and bottom with wafer seals. To make this clearer, picture a twelve-panel piece (six on each side of the sheet, with alternating back and forth parallel folds) starting with a flat size of 10.2” x 27” and folding to 10.2” high x 4.5” wide. The commercial printing job is produced in four color process ink on 80# white gloss cover stock.

After reading an update by the US Postal Service in January, I had been concerned, or at least wary. The relevant piece of information from the USPS newsletter was that self-mailers had to have a fold at the bottom and be wafer sealed at the top in order to be automatable and machinable. That is, to reap the highest discount for bulk mail, folding and tabbing had to happen in this manner.

But a Z-fold mailer has no fold at the bottom (or long edge). Since the panels go back and forth in their accordion fold sequence (leaving both sides without an actual, closed fold), the postal requirement would not be met. I thought I had read this somewhere, but I wasn’t really sure, so I was relieved to hear that my client had asked her mailshop.

Keep in mind that the commercial printing supplier had already provided an estimate for the Z-fold self-mailer. After all, he could produce the job as specified. He had done it for at least the two prior years. But the mailshop caught the error (and the US Postal Service Business Reply Mail Specialist would have done the same), fortunately before any ink had been put on paper.

What If We Hadn’t Caught It in Time?

There’s always that “what if.” Let’s say the client had approved the job and the commercial printing vendor had produced the Z-fold self-mailer. What then? Picture a mail drop at the Post Office rejected for not meeting spec, or picture a larger postage bill due to machinable and automatable requirements not having been met. In the worst case scenario, my client could have sidestepped this at the last minute by placing the Z-fold mailers in custom envelopes. This would have cost more (the cost of approximately 4,500 printed envelopes), but it would have solved the problem.

What Are My Client’s Options?

Fortunately we have a little time. We caught this early. My client suggested a barrel fold (all panels parallel folded in the same direction, in contrast to the back-and-forth folding of the Z-fold (or accordion fold) piece produced in prior years.

I asked the custom printing supplier for some suggestions as well, and I worked out a few myself.

First of all, my client had mentioned the possibility of a partial Z-fold brochure, with the first four panels (eight actually, since we’re talking about both sides of the press sheet) folding back and forth, and the remaining two panels (actually four, two on each side) wrapping around the piece. I checked with the printer, and this would work (i.e., there would be no extra cost because the job fit on the folding equipment and all the folds were parallel).

My client could also do a barrel fold, or she could even fold the piece in thirds (the outer four left panels folded from left to right, and the outer four right panels folded from right to left), and then she could fold this in half.

As confusing as this must sound, the gist of the matter is that the printer could fold the panels individually or in groups of two or three (per side of the sheet) for no additional cost. And as long as there was a fold on the bottom (long side) and wafer seals on the top (other long side), the self-mailer would be postal-legal and would reap the automation discounts.

If This Happens to You, Make a Mock Up

One day all of this may happen to you. Hopefully it will be during the preliminary design stages of the job. As you decide how to solve the problem, first make a physical mock-up of your brochure printing job. If you have a twelve panel brochure (six panels on each side), make a little sample out of paper. Then fold it in different ways until you like it.

How Will You Know You Like It?

How you will fold the piece depends on how you want your reader to digest the information in the brochure. Group your copy by relevant subject matter, and, as you try different folds, consider how your reader’s eye will absorb the content. Do the folds contribute to this, or do they impede understanding? If they will confuse the reader, do something else.

Also consider grouping information by making some panels a solid color and reversing the type out of the solid. Or use screens of a color in the background. The goal is to put the content of the brochure in a logical order, in small chunks, to aid the reader’s comprehension. Make sure the folding (which is part of the design) reinforces this goal.

Booklet Printing: Considering Options for Nested Booklets

Friday, July 26th, 2013

When I receive bids for a print job, the pricing from the various custom printing suppliers usually falls within a narrow range. Some prices are lower, and some are higher, but it is unusual for one book printer to be twenty or thirty percent higher than all the others. If this happens, it is usually because of a miscommunication of some sort.

A few blog posts ago, I mentioned a smaller print booklet (6” x 9”) bound within a larger booklet (7” x 10”) that a print brokering client of mine has been designing. It is a 4-color self-mailer (i.e., it will not mail in an envelope). The job will include a folded letter inserted in the back of the larger book, and the mailer will be closed with three wafer seals to meet US Postal requirements for self-mailers.

Vastly Different Pricing from the Vendors

One printer bid $470.00 to insert the smaller print book into the larger print book, while another printer bid $2,400.00 for the same work. If the vendor with the higher insertion cost had not offered such a low price to print the two booklets (comparable to the lowest bid), I would have assumed that the high bidder was just not competitive for this kind of work. But the custom printing price was low, so I looked deeper.

My first thought was that the printer with the low bid had just priced the job with two stitches affixing one print book into the other. This would have been problematic. After all, my client wanted to be able to remove the inner book and keep it intact (i.e., the inner book had to still have two staples once it had been removed from the outer book). To do this, one additional staple would need to be added, binding the two separate, previously stitched books together.

But had the first printer (with the low bid) understood the complexity of the job? That was my question. Clearly the bidder with the higher price had understood, hence the higher price. I called the first bidder to confirm absolutely that he had understood. The inner book would need to be removed by the recipient. He agreed to hold the price. He had understood, and I had given him a chance to make a price change if he had not understood.

A New Option for Mailing the Promotional Piece

The high bidder could not bind the job for anywhere near the price the low bidder had provided. (My assumption was that the equipment on the pressroom floor of the two book printers had differed enough to account for the price discrepancy.)

However, since the high bidder’s prices for the custom printing component of the job were competitive, he suggested an alternative. He would produce the two print books and the accompanying letter (keeping them separate) and insert them into a 4-color printed envelope.

The Basis for the Change in Job Specifications

I considered the change in job specifications because the book printer offered an interesting rationale:

  1. A self-mailer would get banged up in the mail.
  2. Wafer seals, which would be required by the Post Office, might tear the cover stock of the outer booklet when the recipient of the mailer slit them to open the print book.
  3. The fifth stitch (the one used to bind the two print books together) would be opened when the inner book was removed from the outer book. This extra staple might accidentally prick the finger of the reader, since the staple would still be open and would extend into the center of the book once the smaller book had been removed.
  4. Most notably, the envelope would protect the entire package (all elements: the two books and the letter) from damage.

All of this seemed prudent, so I asked the book printer to revise the bid, deleting the costs for binding the books together and adding a price for a 4-color printed envelope.

This new price was quite good, so I submitted it to my client as an alternative to the self-mailer. I also explained why this might be a good option to consider.

The One Downside I Could See

I could see only one reason not to choose the envelope option (although clearly I would defer to my client’s wishes, regardless). When you find a 4-color self-mailer in your mail box, it stands out from all the other mail. You don’t need to open the envelope. You get an immediate recognition of the image and message.

In contrast, you have to open a sealed envelope. Granted, you can put teaser copy on the envelope, but it still may not be as dramatic as a 4-color self-mailer. I explained this to my client so she would understand the pros and cons of both options.

A Final Thought on Adding Wafer Seals

Over the years I’ve received numerous self-mailers closed not with wafer seals but with fugitive glue. Granted, neither option is as user friendly as an open self-mailer, but this is not an option given the requirements for US Postal Service automated processing. The mailer needs to be securely closed.

That said, I’ve never torn a self-mailer sealed with fugitive glue, while I have inadvertently torn self-mailers sealed with wafer tabs.

It was just a thought. I presented it to my client as an option to consider.

The jury is still out. We’ll see what my client says.

Brochure Printing: Revising Jobs from Prior Years

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

One of my print brokering clients is a designer. Last year she made one of her clients very happy with two self-mailers. I wrote about them last summer, and this year her client wants to update the two jobs without changing their format.

The Back-Story of the Z-Fold Brochure

One of the jobs is a Z-fold (or accordion-fold) piece. Each of the 12 panels (six on each side) folds back and forth in the opposite direction of one another (like the letter “Z”). The self-mailer folds to a final size of 10.2″ high and 4.5″ wide. The 4-color custom printing project will be produced on 80# white gloss cover.

Here’s the Catch: Postal Regulations

In January I received an update from the Post Office listing new requirements for automatable discounts on self-mailers. These changes included acceptable self-mailer size and format, paper weight, address placement, folding restrictions, and tabbing positions for wafer seals.

Fortunately, my client’s Z-fold self-mailer from last year met all of the requirements without any significant changes. However, a different job with different specifications might not have passed muster. And in this case, without corrections to meet the USPS restrictions, the job might have incurred a significant surcharge—or it might have been rejected outright by the Post Office.

How to Avoid Mailing Problems

This is what I suggested to my client, and I would offer the same advice to you:

  1. Keep abreast of developments in the US Postal Service. Google Alerts can give you daily updates of relevant articles. Foreknowledge can save you money. These updates can come at any time. The USPS update that pertained to my client arrived this January.
  2. Show a mock-up of your brochure printing job to a business mail service specialist at the Post Office (or send him/her a PDF of your project). Make it clear that you want your piece to be machinable and automatable, that you want to receive the best postage discount possible. And then ask for his/her suggestions. Ask how you need to change the size, design, paper specification, address placement, or any other elements of the self-mailer to ensure compliance.

Another Piece: A Step-Down Print Booklet

Last year my client also created a step-down print booklet with diagonal thumb tabs. Each successive right-hand page was cut slightly less deep than the one in front of it. Thumb tabs had type reversed out of five different solid colors (one for each tab, with all being process color builds). It was beautiful, but it required precise cutting to make all tabs parallel to one another—with all of them on the same 45 degree angle.

The outer cover of the print booklet extended across the full 6” x 9” dimension (folded down from 12” x 9”), and the booklet was closed and tabbed for mailing. It also included a folded flyer, printed on 50# white offset and inserted into the direct mail package prior to tabbing.

The custom printing supplier had initially planned to cut the pages without using a die. He had expected to do extra hand-work, so the price included a surcharge. However, as the job progressed, it became clear that due to the precision needed in cutting the diagonal thumb tabs, the printer’s hand-cutting would take forever, might not be parallel, and might leave white lines between each of the differently colored tabs.

Therefore, the printer had steel die-cutting dies made and lost money on the job. If I recall correctly, he passed a small portion of the cost on to my client, but since the printer had initially priced the job for hand-cutting, he stepped up and bore the lion’s share of the cost of the dies.

A New Year, but the Same Step-Down Print Booklet

So now it’s a new year, and the custom printing job is essentially the same. The graphics will change completely, but the size and format of the step-down self-mailer will match last year’s job.

The good news is that the dies have already been made. So the overall cost of the job may be quite reasonable (even with a slightly higher initial price than last year’s job, due to the complexity of the work, offset by a discount, since the dies have already been made).

What You Can Learn

If you’re doing a job that is essentially the same one you did last year, particularly if it involves preparatory work such as steel-die-making, consider going back to the same custom printing supplier that did the work the preceding year, and ask about using the old dies.

Conversely, even if it’s a new job (a pocket folder for instance), ask about using a die that has already been created. If you’re willing to adjust your design a little to match an existing die, you may reap a savings, upwards of $500.00, since die-making can be pricey as well as time consuming.

Custom Box Printing: Effective Toothpaste Carton Design

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

My fiancee just brought home a toothpaste box, and I said, “Wow. I want that.” That’s effective marketing. It was a deep gut reaction based on an instant bond with the branding. It preceded any interaction with the product. In fact I haven’t tried the toothpaste yet, although I think I know how it will taste.

Effective marketing comes from effective design and effective custom printing. These are the building blocks, if you will. They combine to create that “Wow” moment.

The Toothpaste Box Design

First, let me describe the toothpaste box.

The Corrugated Paper Folding Carton

The technical term for this printed product is a “folding carton” because it is printed flat and then folded and glued into the carton for the toothpaste. This particular carton is composed of two elements: an unprinted corrugated box (about 2” x 2” x 7”) folded into a rectangular solid with the fluting of the cardboard exposed and facing outward, and with all of the fluting positioned diagonally to the dimensions of the box. Unlike most corrugated board, this carton has exposed fluting. Most corrugated board has the fluting sandwiched between two flat paper boards.

The Outer Sleeve

Wrapped around the corrugated board carton is a printed matte “sleeve.” It covers all four sides of the corrugated carton. However, it leaves about 3/4” on either side exposed, so you can see the diagonal fluting of the inner box. The “wrap” or “sleeve” is printed in earth tones.

Purpose of the Inner Fluted Box

In my opinion, the folding carton for the toothpaste gives an organic “feel” to the piece by means of a tactile fluted box (pliable and a little rough to the touch with its diagonal ribbing). What I find interesting is that the corrugated inner box achieves this organic feel not through any custom printing but through the simplicity of the fluted paper, its color, its texture, and its pattern of diagonal ribbing.

The Graphic Design on the Sleeve

The outer printed sleeve reinforces this organic theme in several ways:

  1. The forest green, beige, and rust brown colors offset-printed on the matte coated sheet provide a subdued and sophisticated, but at the same time simple and organic, feel. The Helvetica typeface for most copy and the corresponding sans serif face of the logo (with its extra tracking between letters) give a contemporary but, again, simple and orderly look to the piece.
  2. The content of the marketing copy reinforces the theme. Words and phrases such as “gluten free,” “fluoride free,” “organic,” “chlorine free,” and “authentic” position this particular toothpaste as a product a prudent, environmentally conscious consumer might buy.
  3. The materials used in the custom printing are “green.” The folding carton copy prominently notes that paper made with 80 percent recycled material went into making the carton and offset-printed wrapper. In addition, instead of using petroleum-based printing inks, the custom printing supplier used more environmentally friendly soy-based inks.

So in the simplest terms, the marketing team made sure the promotional copy, the typeface, the color scheme, the paper, and the custom printing technology all worked together to present this particular toothpaste as an organic, Earth-friendly option for cleaning and whitening teeth.

The Ideal Customer

A savvy marketer envisions an ideal customer and them finds ways to pique his or her interest. One of the key ways to do this is to list the attributes, likes, and dislikes of this “virtual” person. In this case, for instance, the ideal customer might be a 25- to 40-year-old with a desire to protect the environment, and a desire to use healthy grooming products while avoiding chemical additives. Who knows? Maybe he/she even likes kayaking or rock climbing on weekends. Or maybe he/she owns a Subaru with a bicycle rack on top.

With this ideal buyer in mind, a savvy marketer then goes about using ad copy, typefaces, design grids, paper choices, and paper textures (the fluting of the corrugated board, in this case) to create an emotional bond with the potential buyer. If the marketer can use the custom printing and design tools at his/her disposal to elicit from the buyer a sense of affiliation with the values of the brand, the marketer can make the sale.

So here’s to a breakfast of granola and yogurt, washed down with a latte, and then followed with flossing and brushing with this supremely organic toothpaste.

Book Printing: Thoughts on Creating Nested Booklets

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

A print brokering client of mine came to me with an idea for a marketing promotion. It involved custom printing a 7” x 10” booklet that included a smaller, 6” x 9” booklet tipped into the print book.

She planned to produce the larger booklet as a 12-page self-cover, saddle-stitched item and the smaller booklet as an 8-page self-cover, saddle-stitched item. Both would be printed on cover stock.

My client wanted my suggestions on what paper to use, how large to make the books, and how to tip the smaller book into the larger book.

Choosing Paper and a Page Size

I contacted a high-end commercial printing vendor to discuss the job. Based on the amount of information my client wanted to include on each page, the printer and I agreed that the 6” x 9” and 7” x 10” formats would be ideal. In addition, the size difference would be just enough for the smaller book to stand out from the larger book (too close in size, or paper stock, and the reader would not immediately know where one book ended and the other began).

Furthermore, the printer and I agreed that an 80# white satin cover stock would be ideal for the outer book and a 65# white satin cover stock would be best for the inner book (my client wanted a paper finish between gloss and matte). Again, the contrast between the two paper weights would immediately confirm where one print book ended and the other began.

In addition to immediately identifying the shift from one book to the next, the thinner paper for the interior print book book would have a few other advantages. First, the marketing piece would be lighter than one created entirely on 80# stock. Therefore, the cost to mail the job would be less than for a book printed on 80# cover stock throughout. Finally, the bulk of the combined print books would be less, so there would be more likelihood that the nested booklets would lie flat and not curl.

Binding One Print Book Into the Other (or Tipping One Book Onto Another)

I told the printer about the tip-on, and we agreed that there were three options.

  1. The smaller booklet could be bound into the center of the larger book. It could jog to the top or bottom of the book.
  2. The smaller book could be tipped onto cover #3 (the inside back cover of the larger book). The book printer could run a thin bead of fugitive glue (like rubber cement) parallel to the spine of the larger book and then position the smaller booklet on this easily-removable glue.
  3. The printer could insert a “hanger” between signatures in the larger book, and tip-on (affix with the fugitive glue) the smaller book. One side of the hanger would be visible in the front of the larger book (and could be printed or unprinted), and the other side would extend through the saddle stitches to the back of the book. The high-folio side of the hanger (the side after the center of the book) would provide a base to which the smaller book could be glued.

I asked the printer if there were other options, and he said there were none. I also asked which he preferred and why. The printer said that inserting the smaller print book into the center of the larger one would not require tabbing, but tipping the smaller booklet onto the back inside cover of the larger book would require tabbing.

Since the job would be a self-mailer, I noted that three wafer seal tabs would need to be applied by the mailshop—either way–for the Post Office to accept the job and process it on its automated equipment (i.e., the self-mailer would then be machinable and automatable and would receive relevant postage discounts).

The printer agreed and said that under these circumstances there would be no reason to choose one option over the other. If the client wanted the smaller booklet either tipped onto the inside back cover or bound into the center of the book, either would be fine.

Stitching Both Books and Then Attaching Them to One Another

In order to ensure that both the smaller and larger print books would be intact when the smaller book had been removed from the larger, we agreed on the following. The smaller book would be bound with two staples, the larger book would be bound with two staples, and then the smaller book would be bound into the larger book with one staple.

The printer did voice one concern. Since pulling the smaller book out of the center spread of the larger book would open the central binding staple, this could be awkward. Instead, he suggested wrapping an elastic band around the spine of both books to hold them together in the center of each. This elastic band could be white, black, or a color. He would see whether this would be acceptable to the Post Office.

Discussing My Findings with My Client

I presented all of these options and insights to my client. She wasn’t sure she liked the idea of an elastic band holding both books together. She might still opt for the staple, or she might prefer tipping the smaller book onto the back inside cover of the larger book. She would need to present all options and pricing to her client for review.

Pursuing Next Steps

Therefore, my next step was to set out in writing all specifications for the booklets, with all options noted for binding and tip-ons. I then sent the spec sheet to the printer I had contacted as well as two other vendors and requested pricing.

What You Can Learn from This

  1. Involve your custom printing supplier early. Describe your goals, and then ask for his suggestions for improving the product and making it cost-effective.
  2. Keep a detailed specification sheet, and update it as you adjust your goals.
  3. Share the specs with a number of printers. Some may have more knowledge in the area of your particular printed piece, or more appropriate equipment, or better pricing.

Custom Printing: Pad Printing for Irregular Surfaces

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

A potential print brokering client of mine sells glasses and bottles of various colors with imprinted text and logos. She came to me looking for a source for metallic black drinking ware that was food safe. This is a good example of both industrial printing—metallic black pigment on food-safe plastic—and promotional item custom printing.

If I could provide her with black metallic bottles and cups, my potential client would then use screen printing equipment and pad printing equipment to imprint logos, type, etc., on these items. I had studied custom screen printing and felt reasonably comfortable with this technology, but I had never heard of pad printing. So I went to school on the subject.

What Is Pad Printing?

Actually, pad printing seems to be a hybrid of gravure and offset commercial printing. In this process, a sponge-like, bulbous pad picks up an inked image from a metal or polyester plate (with recessed image areas holding the ink) and then deposits this image on an irregular surface. I watched some videos to supplement my reading, and I encourage you to do the same. Nothing explains the process of pad printing as well as a video.

Steps in the Process

Making the Plates

Let’s say you wanted to pad print a two-color logo on a golf ball. You would first print a positive of each color, in register, on clear acetate film using a laser printer. You would then place this film over the emulsion of a metal or polyester plate and expose the plate to intense light in a suitably constructed lightbox. The light would harden the emulsion on the plate except where the positive image of the logo blocked the light and prevented it from hitting the plate.

You would then make a second exposure with a halftone screen placed over the entire plate. The dots on the halftone screen (again a positive image) would keep the light of the second exposure from hitting image portions of the logo. (You would go through this same process to prepare a plate for each color of your final image.)

Since the opaque film positive will have prevented light from hardening the plate emulsion behind the logo art, and since the dots of the halftone screen will have kept the light from hitting a halftone dot pattern of your art, once you have washed away the remaining soft emulsion from the plate, you will have a recessed image area composed entirely of halftone dots. This is the prepared plate, ready to use after you have exposed it to a little more light to complete the emulsion curing process.

Printing the Image

The pressman locks up the plate in the moving bed of the press (which is very small compared to an offset press). Specially formulated ink comes out of a reservoir (a cup, of sorts) and is spread over the plate with a flood blade. Then a doctor blade passes across the plate, removing any ink not within the recesses of the image area halftone dots (hence the resemblance to the recessed plate of gravure custom printing—an intaglio process).

Once the inked plate is ready, a silicone pad in the shape of a “loaf,” a “bar,” or a “circle” presses into the plate. At this point the ink transfers to the pad (hence the resemblance to the blanket of an offset press ink unit), and from the pad the image transfers to the substrate—all within the mechanized assembly line of the small pad press.

Let’s get back to the golf ball I had initially mentioned. Pad printing is ideal for irregular surfaces like this. Whereas you can roll a cylindrical drinking cup or bottle under a flat custom screen printing unit as the squeegee presses the ink through the fabric, this process wouldn’t work on a golf ball (or perhaps a small metal toy car) due to the item’s irregular surface.

In one of the videos I saw, a holder for the golf ball had been molded out of a clay-like substance that would harden and hold every golf ball in the press run in the exact same position.

The plate, the inking device, and the pads themselves (from one to four pads for multiple color work) all moved in tandem. As the equipment inked up the plate and the pad lifted the image from the plate and deposited it onto the golf ball, the inking units were getting the plate ready for the next golf ball.

The whole process worked smoothly, yielding printed golf ball after printed golf ball.

Why You Should Care

Here’s an excerpted list of pad printing applications from the Wikipedia article on pad printing:

  1. “Medical devices (surgical instruments, etc.)”
  2. “Implantable and in body medical items (catheter tubes, contact lenses, etc.)”
  3. “Hockey pucks”
  4. “Letters on computer keyboards and calculator keys”
  5. “Automotive parts (turn signal indicators, panel controls, etc.)”
  6. “Hot Wheels or Matchbox toy cars”

As you can see, any item or surface you normally couldn’t print on because of its irregular shape is perfect for pad printing. Furthermore, the tacky nature of the solvent-based ink will stick to many different substrates. And as I’ve said before in many blog articles, custom printing includes much more than just marketing and editorial work. Industrial custom printing is definitely in a growth spurt.

New Developments in Pad Printing

Here are a couple of things to consider when you study pad printing to see if it’s a useful technology for your particular line of commercial printing or design work:

  1. UV inks are now being used in this process. This may be a good way to avoid solvent-based inks. In addition, the UV inks have the advantage of curing instantly upon exposure to UV light.
  2. Direct laser imprinting is becoming available for platemaking. This avoids the analog process of producing a film positive and then exposing the emulsion on the printing plate to light.

Digital Printing: Scodix Enhances Metallics and Textures

Monday, July 1st, 2013

I did some research today after reading an article on Scodix in PackagingEurope (5/6/13). Scodix allows custom printing vendors to digitally print multiple metallic colors on a single press sheet, in one pass, without foil stamping or dies. Scodix also allows providers to offer variable density embossing and textures. All of this is digital, and any combination can be produced on the same commercial printing press sheet.

The Scodix Digital Enhancement Process

The Scodix process involves laying down multiple passes of clear polymer in precise locations on the press sheet using inkjet technology. Moreover, the presses are of sufficient size to accept up to a B2 custom printing sheet (27.8” x 19.7”), making them competitive with other full-size commercial printing presses.

The Components of the Process

Scodix can be broken down into a number of components, including Scodix Rainbow, Scodix Metallic, and Scodix Inkjet-Braille. Printers can integrate these modules into existing Scodix equipment, such as the Scodix S52 and S74 presses.

Using ordinary in-house equipment, the commercial printing vendor applies a special lamination to any substrate from paper to PVC to label stock. Then he prints CMYK toners on the laminated stock (or an alternate silver paper) with an HP Indigo digital press. Following the initial digital imaging process:

  1. Scodix Metallic applies multiple layers of clear polymer in small droplets (Scodix SENSE TM) to create any number of metallic colors on the same sheet.
  2. and/or Scodix Rainbow digitally applies “glitter powder” over the CMYK toners.
  3. and/or Scodix Inkjet-Braille adds layers of polymer to create a raised surface up to 250 microns thick.

Scodix’s patented RSP (Rotate, Scale, Move) technology, which is based on two CCD cameras and mathematical algorithms, allows for the precise positioning and thickness of the polymer.

The Implications for Commercial Printing and Marketing

  1. All the work can be done in-house with no outsourcing. This gives custom printing vendors greater control over the production process and costs, while shortening overall job production times.
  2. There are no dies or other foil stamping elements to create. This reduces costs and preparation times, while providing a final product that is more resistant to scuffing than traditional metallic foil.
  3. Multiple digital effects, from textures to metallic colors to embossing, can be positioned with “pinpoint accuracy.”
  4. Unlike traditional foil stamping, multiple metallic colors, embossing, and/or textured effects can all be included on the same press sheet.
  5. To be relevant, commercial printing must offer an experience unavailable on a smartphone or tablet. The Scodix process provides a tactile experience unmatched by digital-only media.
  6. There are no pollutants, and the process uses less energy than traditional foil stamping and embossing. There’s no need for solvents, chemicals, or plates because Scodix is an entirely digital, polymer-based inkjet process.
  7. Scodix digital enhancement is perfect for packaging printers for a number of reasons. Increasingly, packaging manufacturers are opting for shorter runs of multiple versions, and Scodix excels at short runs. In addition, for such applications as cosmetic packaging, being able to integrate metallics, virtual foils, and graduated textures is ideal.
  8. The process is infinitely variable. You can change the placement of the metallics and embossing effects from copy to copy, or you can print 1,000 identical copies. This is ideal for variable data commercial printing, since traditional, die-based foil stamping and embossing yield static (or unchanging) metallic or embossing effects throughout the press run.

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