Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

Printing Industry Exchange (printindustry.com) is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at info@printindustry.com.

Blog Articles for PrintIndustry.com

Archive for December, 2018

Book Printing: Everything Is an Advertisement

Friday, December 28th, 2018

About 25 years ago, when I was an art director/production manager, the non-profit foundation for which I worked brought in a marketing consultant. Even though it was a quarter of a century ago, I still remember two things he said.

First he told a story of a campaign he had created for a foundation seeking funding to help the disabled. He had sent wheelchairs to select donors and had asked them to spend a day in the wheelchair and then donate what they thought appropriate. (Sort of a “walk a mile in my shoes” approach.)

The second thing this consultant said that stuck with me was the following: Everything you do, every printed piece you send out to a client, is an advertisement. (This was before the concept of “branding” had become so widely known.)

From this consultant’s story and his insight on advertising, I came away with a deep conviction that he was right on both counts.

What Does This Have to Do With Book Printing?

A print brokering client of mine is producing three new print book titles this coming year. The client is a husband and wife publishing team. They focus on the quality production values that set apart print books from more generic print-on-demand books and the digital-only books you read on a screen. My clients always have French flaps on their print books, faux-deckle edges on the books’ paper, and superb cover art. They also have the printer coat the covers of the books with a soft-touch matte film laminate, and they request a press score on the front and back covers (a vertical score parallel to the spine that makes it easier to open the books).

These characteristics of my clients’ books tell a story about them. They reflect my clients’ values. These characteristics say that my clients appreciate the tactile qualities only a print book can have. This value is a part of my clients’ brand. A part of who they are and what they offer their clients. So whatever they send out, be it a flyer noting an upcoming book launch or even a new print book itself, everything is an advertisement.

Cover Coating the Galleys

Prior to printing the final editions of these three books next year, my clients will produce “galleys” for selected readers to review and comment on. My clients will then incorporate these comments into their final texts prior to the final book printing. This will do a few things:

  1. It will improve the final books. After all, nothing adds to the quality of a work in progress more than input from one’s colleagues who themselves are writers, teachers, and book reviewers.
  2. It will promote the books. This is a bit unusual. My clients produce books of fiction and poetry, and in the past, in most cases, galleys were of low quality and were only used as editorial tools (albeit for multiple readers to review). Promotional copies came at a slightly later stage, when the text of the work had been set in final form. In my clients’ case, this galley really functions as both a galley and a promotional copy. Because of this, and because of what the consultant said to me 25 years ago, it is clear to me that these books are an advertisement for my clients’ brand and their values, the reasons they don’t just produce e-books.

The Specs for the Galleys

How this relates to book printing will become more clear as we focus on the specifications for the galleys. Unlike the final books, the galleys will not have deckle edges on their face trim. Nor will they have French flaps or a press score. They will just be 5.5” x 8.5” perfect bound books with 70# offset text and 12pt. 4-color covers and black-only-text ink.

To save my clients’ money, and since these are not the final books, to date we have printed the covers digitally (usually a 50-copy press run) and without a cover coating. After all, they may need to look good, but they don’t need to look good for very long, since the final copies with the French flaps will follow them into production within a short time.

That said, the printer, a new vendor who specializes in book printing, noted his firm belief that these books should in fact be coated with a gloss laminate to prevent scuffing during shipping.

I was pleased and a bit surprised by his proactive stance, but I brought his suggestion to my clients. Overall, this would raise the prices for each of the galley press runs by only about $40.00 (for 75 copies this time), so it was not a lot of money. I thought it was a good investment in the quality of my clients’ books but also a good investment in their brand image. I said as much, and they agreed.

However, when I asked the printer for the cost of a matte film laminate (the initial bid was for gloss), his pricing went up an additional $40.00. On the one hand, the final books would be cover coated with a soft-touch matte film laminate, so you could argue that consistent treatment of all covers would be good for the brand. It would show coherence. It would be a good advertisement for my clients’ work. Moreover, this would work on a subconscious (and yet still powerful) level with readers.

But, in the final analysis, my clients, the printer, and I felt this was overkill, since the goal was protection of the ink on the print book covers and since the cost of coating the covers was starting to approach a sizable chunk of the total expense.

As an afterthought, what has made this an easier than usual process, in determining the nuances of the cover coating, has been the specific nature of the printer. He is a book printer. Unlike most printers, he has all of the equipment to do the printing, cover coating, and binding in-house. Therefore, the turn-around time is reasonable, and the prices are superb, leaving primarily (but not exclusively) the aesthetics of the product to inform the final decision.

What You Can Learn From This Case Study

If you parse out this experience I had, a few teaching points come to mind:

  1. It’s always helpful to have a book printer print a book. A commercial printer can usually also print a book, but he may not have in-house perfect binding, case binding, or even some of the more esoteric cover coating options you might like. If he has to subcontract this work, it will lengthen the schedule, raise the price, and possibly even take away some of the printer’s control over the quality of the final product.
  2. Think about the overall “look,” not only of an individual printed product but also of the other printed pieces that will accompany it. When you varnish, UV coat, or laminate one product, consider the overall look of all the products together. You may still choose a different coating for each, but it will be a reasoned decision (sometimes even a decision based on money as well as aesthetics).
  3. Keep in mind that everything from your business cards to your emails to your texts to your most high-profile printed product is an ad. It speaks volumes about both your customer and about you.

Book Printing: Don’t Forget the Book Designer

Monday, December 10th, 2018

A potential book printing client of mine is producing a 6” x 9”, 220-page, perfect-bound book. Over the last few weeks we have been discussing her project, and I have been providing prices. What’s intriguing to me is that she had been considering printing her book through an on-line, print-on-demand publisher, but after our discussions, she likes the personal attention of working with a custom printing broker and going to a “brick-and-mortar” printer. She had spoken to a number of friends, and some had not been altogether satisfied with the overall quality of their print-on-demand books.

I heard back from her this week after a hiatus during which she had been considering her options.

One of the items I had included in her book printing estimate was the line: “artwork submitted as press-ready PDF files.” When my client contacted me, she asked whether all of the printers wanted the art files prepared this way or whether they could do the formatting themselves. She also asked whether there was an additional cost for this service.

Her question took me aback. It showed that both she and I had made assumptions. I assumed she was a graphic artist, used to designing books in InDesign, while in reality she was preparing a job for her father-in-law in MS Word. She was a writer, not a designer.

So this is what I told my client.

Formatting is an extra cost for any commercial printing company. I had found her prices for two book printing suppliers that could do the formatting. One would charge $80.00 per hour. He thought he could produce the book in four or five hours, but this was based on no knowledge of what the book would look like. He would need to see what was involved before providing a firm estimate. The second printer would do the formatting for $45.00 per hour. I told my client that this was a great price, since I myself would do similar work for $70.00 an hour.

I noted that since the overall printing price for 30 copies produced digitally would range from $350.00 to $540.00 (depending on the vendor), the design component of the job would almost double the overall cost. And that’s just assuming a simple design job.

I did ask the book printer, however, whether the client could submit a MS Word file saved as a PDF, if the job were just simple text. I noted that many printers do not like MS Word files. One reason among many is that these files are saved in the RGB (red, green, blue) color space (used for creating colors on computer monitors) rather than the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black) color space used for creating colors with ink on paper. One printer had brought this to my attention. I had also been concerned about potential formatting errors introduced in the translation from MS Word to PDF files (any extra spacing, problems with special characters, font issues—I just hadn’t been sure).

Suggestions for My Client

The first thing I did was ask my client about her specific print book. I realized that my assumption that it would be one continuous column of text throughout the 220 pages (with potential running headers and folios as well as chapter opening pages) might not be correct. I asked whether the book had photos or charts or whether it was only a single text column running through all pages.

This is what she said.

The book is mainly a single text column with footnotes. There are some photos (maybe 10), charts (2), and maps (6-10). So these are the only things that really need to be worked out on the formatting. She agreed that it would make sense to create and work off a template.

So right off the bat we were working with a rather complex design, or at least something requiring a designer and not just someone to “format the text.”

This process made it clear to me that as a printing broker I was assuming the text of a book really didn’t matter except for whether it was 4-color process, black and a spot color, or black ink only (i.e., what the printer would need to know). My client, on the other hand, assumed the job was ready for the printer when all the words in the text file were perfect.

Communicating Design Requirements

I told my client that the best thing she could do to keep costs down was to give the designer samples (scanned and sent as PDFs) of printed work she liked. If she could show the designer what she wanted the cover and text to look like (including the type size; fonts; and treatment of photos, headlines, folios, running headers, charts, etc.), then the designer could “format” her book in that way on the first attempt. This way there would be no miscommunication. The designer wouldn’t have one “look” in mind while my client had another.

This also reminded me that for even the smallest job (whether a simple book or a one-page announcement), the fundamentals of good design still applied.

We’ll see what she says when we talk next.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

If you yourself are not a designer, you still have to consider the design of a book and then hire someone to do this part of the job for you. The overall job will then cost more than just the printing. Then again, it’s more than just “formatting,” because how the overall book looks will strongly (and in many cases subconsciously) affect the reader. If the book is hard to read (type too small, or type in a font that’s hard to read for some reason–like a script font or a display font used primarily for headlines), your reader’s eyes will tire. Once this happens, you’ve lost him or her.

In addition, if the overall look of the print book doesn’t match its tone and purpose, your reader will be confused or put off. For example, if your subject matter is technical and you choose a floral typeface, this will confuse the reader. And anything that takes the reader’s attention away from the content of the book will detract from his or her experience. These days people have limited attention spans and limited reading time, so you want the reader’s experience to be easy and enjoyable.

Overall, this means that if you are not a designer yourself, you need to hire one.

To do this, first ask for printed samples of the designer’s work. Then show the designer samples of print books you like. Next, request a mock-up of the main elements of the book: cover, title page, table of contents, chapter opening, etc. In fact, you might even want to request a few pages showing two or three alternate type/design treatments, even before the designer produces a complete mock-up including each of the main book components.

Look first for readability. This will depend on the choice of font and its point size, the space between lines, and the width of the column. The main question is whether it is easy to read. Think also about the age of the readers. Middle-aged eyes need larger type sizes to allow for comfortable reading.

Only after you are satisfied with mock-ups of all elements of the book should you ask the designer to proceed with a cover proof and proofs of all text pages, front and back matter. etc. This goes double if you’re including charts, graphs, and photographs, as my client will be doing. What you want to avoid is a 220-page book proof with design elements you don’t like. Work these issues out in the initial mock-up, not the first page proof.

Finally (and this is actually the first thing to think about if you’re working with a designer), make sure the MS Word document is the final edited and accurate copy of the text. Of course there will be some edits, but if you want to keep the budget under control, edit the book before you submit it for final design, not at the first proof stage.

Custom Printing: Digital Ceramic Printing on Glass

Sunday, December 2nd, 2018

I read a few articles online this week about custom printing on glass. My interest piqued, I did further research. What interested me the most were the facts that glass is non-porous and that printing on glass needs to be durable (after all, if an architect builds a structure and the printing on the glass panes degrades, it could be extremely expensive to repair or replace). So how can you print on glass in such a way that the image won’t scratch off and degrade? This was my question.

The History of Printing on Glass

According to my research, prior to 2007 the two methods for printing on glass were screen printing and digital UV printing.

The first option, screen printing, included both direct custom printing (by forcing ink through a stencil on a mesh screen) and transfer printing (printing on paper and then transferring the image to the glass substrate). In both cases, it was necessary to fire the glass, once printed, in order to permanently bond the ink to the substrate.

UV printing, on the other hand, came about much later, relying on UV light to instantly cure the inks. Unlike ceramic inks, UV inks just sit on the surface of the glass and are not permanently bonded to the substrate. Therefore they are not durable enough for exterior architectural use or automotive use. Although it is possible to achieve a wide color gamut and precisely detailed imagery, UV ink printing on glass is best used indoors.

Next Generation Technology

After UV inks and screen printing, the next technological advancement was the digital printing of ceramic inks directly onto the glass substrate, followed by the firing of the glass to permanently fuse the pigments to the substrate.

This provides several benefits:

  1. Unlike screen printing, digital custom printing with ceramic inks does not involve all of the makeready necessary with mesh screens. Therefore, the process is easier to complete, and short runs are economical.
  2. Like UV digital printing, digital printing with ceramic inks can achieve striking detail and a wide color gamut.
  3. Unlike UV digital printing (but like screen printing), the nature of the ceramic inks and the additional firing step following printing make the image on the printed glass extremely durable. Therefore, this process is ideal for both interior and exterior decorative and functional purposes. That is, you can print an attractive image on the glass (decorative), or you can print patterns that diffuse the light or reduce the heating effects of the sun (functional).
  4. Unlike screen printing, digital ceramic ink printing is easily repeatable. Therefore, if a printed glass panel is damaged, it is much easier to match the design and color of the original image when reprinting the new panel.
  5. Technology is in use to seamlessly integrate the imaging software (the computer application in which you create the design), the ceramic ink printing equipment, and the digital ceramic inks. This affords precise control over not only the color but also the level of transparency/opacity of the printed glass substrate.

Uses for Glass Printing

To put this technology into context, here are some of the uses for commercial printing on glass, which can include text, images, or patterns:

  1. You can print an attractive design. For instance, you can create glass mirrors with subtle but detailed imagery to decorate the interior of an office space.
  2. You can print a functional design. For instance, if you have a meeting room with floor to ceiling glass interior windows and you want to give the people in the meetings a measure of privacy, you can print an image that reduces transparency, or you can print a pattern, such as a matte frosting, that merely increases the opacity of the glass without having a discernible image.
  3. You can use printing (such as patterns) to control the heating effects of the sun through exterior glass windows.
  4. You can use printing (such as patterns) to diffuse light.
  5. You can reduce the chance that birds will fly into the windows.

How This Is Done

This is the science behind the art of commercial printing on glass:

  1. Image processing software (a raster image processor, of which Photoshop would be a more generic example) not only prints the ceramic frit-based inks but also controls their application (thickness of the ink film, for instance) based on desired levels of transparency/opacity and the size and thickness of the glass substrate. (Frit is a temperature resistant ink containing particles of glass and ceramic as well as pigment. It is durable and abrasion resistant, and it helps adhere the ink to the glass substrate.)
  2. Digital ceramic frit-based inks are used based on the CMYK color model. The frit-based inks contain ceramic frit and inorganic pigments. These are fired, after printing, to fuse with the glass. During this process, the intense heat decomposes the inorganic additives and binders in the ink. Then the heat fuses the frit to the glass and the pigments, expels any voids to compact the ink film, and forms “a bubble-free layer of constant thickness and homogeneous pigment dispersion within the glass” (Wikipedia).
  3. The third element is the ceramic ink printer, which is a flatbed digital printing device with print heads that move over the rigid surface of the glass, spraying the pigmented ceramic inks onto the substrate. Inline drying elements immediately fix the drops of ink in place, allowing for single-pass printing and sharp image detail. The precision of the printers (and the drying technology) allow for 720 dpi printing on substrates up to 10.8 x 59 feet (approximately), with vibrant hues, consistent and repeatable color, and fine detail.

The Take Away

  1. If you have design skills and experience, there are jobs out there. You can apply your skills to either aesthetic decoration of glass or functional design (which is another growing arena of commercial printing).
  2. The same thing is true if you have production knowledge and experience, and sales acumen. The field is growing (again, in both decorative and functional commercial printing), so there is an increasing need for sales professionals.
  3. Or, if you are a production person (perhaps from an in-house prepress unit of a custom printing supplier), there are production jobs out there bringing together skills and knowledge in raster image processing, ink composition, the firing of ceramics, and digital printing equipment.

The marketplace is driving this growth in digital ceramic printing technology, and it seems to be on a tear.

Archives

Recent Posts

Categories


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!


Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved