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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.

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“Runnability” on a Digital Press: The Need to Mix the Right Technology with the Right Paper

When selecting brochure printing services (brochure printing), a digital on demand book printing vendor (digital on demand book printing), or a supplier for business stationery printing and envelopes (business stationery printing and envelope printing), consider the best mix of digital technology, paper, and toner for optimal “runnability.”

“Runnability” is a printing term referring to the ability of a press sheet to move easily through press and post-press operations, yielding a satisfactory product with a minimum of stress and strain. Although it refelcts the printer’s perspective of not wanting to fight with a particular paper stock, it affects you as well: in terms of price and results.

To most offset printers, adequate runnability usually is determined by the manufacturing of the paper (its consistency of formation), the conditioning of the paper before use (proper temperature and humidity to prevent curling and avoid multiple-sheet feeding), its preparation before use (trimming squarely to size with no frayed edges that might deposit paper lint into the process), ink formulation (to allow for quick ink drying), and tolerance for post-press operations (ease of folding and such).

With the advent of digital printing, however, marrying the right digital process to the right ink (or toner) and paper takes on a new dimension. Here are a few situations that illustrate problems with runnability on a digital press:

  • You have chosen a soft and textured uncoated sheet for an invitation. Your guest list is short; you only need three hundred copies, but they will all go to Fortune 500 company CEO’s, so they need to be of optimal quality. You want to run the job on an Indigo digital press because of the superior product it will produce, but the paper you have chosen is too soft to feed properly through the press. In addition, the surface is too rough to accept a uniform lay-down of toner.
  • The same situation occurs with your own HP LaserJet office printer. You have chosen a thicker than usual paper stock to give the perception of seriousness and quality. But the paper jams repeatedly in your laser printer.
  • Or you have preprinted your letterhead with thermographic printing of your logo and type (powder added to offset ink and then fused to the ink with heat and pressure to create raised type). When you feed this paper through your laser printer, the heat and pressure of the equipment cause the thermographic print to melt, streak, and lay down track marks on the letterhead.
  • Perhaps you have designed a book for digital printing. Your design incorporates heavy solids with bleeds. Your particular printer only has a lower-end digital press, and the heat, extra toner coverage, and roller pressure combine to melt the digital ink and fuse the sheets of paper together. Your printer only gets one usable sheet for every ten he prints.

All of these nightmare situations have something in common: runnability problems. That is, an incompatibility between the intended product use and/or goals of the designer, the paper, the ink or toner, the printing process, and the equipment. The result? Trouble in press and post-press operations.

Talk with your color brochure printer, your custom book printer, business card printing service, or other vendor early to determine the best mix of paper, ink, toner, and digital printing processes.

4 Responses to ““Runnability” on a Digital Press: The Need to Mix the Right Technology with the Right Paper”

  1. printer prices at staples says:

    I can’t find your e-mail subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly let me understand so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your interest.

      Click twice on the headline of any newsletter article. This will present you with only that one article on a page, rather than a string of many PIE Blog articles.

      At the bottom of the page, under the “share” and “tweet” icons is a paragraph of text. The words “RSS 2.0” are highlighted. Click on this link and follow the instructions.

      In addition, you might want to check out the PIE Quick Tips newsletter, which can be found at this URL:

      http://www.printindustry.com/Newsletters/Default.aspx

      Please send me another email if you have further difficulty.

  2. דפוס says:

    Very informative…. Thanks a lot guys.

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