Printing and Design Tips: April 2012, Issue #129

Paste Binding

You may have seen them in the magazine section of your newspaper: multi-page flyers or booklets that are not saddle stitched (i.e., not bound with staples).

These offset printed products can be produced on a web press (roll-fed press), and unlike their saddle-stitched counterparts, these multi-page bound booklets can bypass the off-line stitching and trimming equipment.

Paste binding occurs right on-press, after the inking units and dryer ovens, and before the delivery end of the press. The web press lays down a bead of glue onto the fold lines, and then attaches the additional press sheets to one another during folding. This way web printers can deliver printed products bound and trimmed, saving money, labor, and time, without needing to go off-line into the bindery to complete the job.

This option would only be appropriate on 8-, 12-, or 16-page booklets of text-weight paper stock. (Depending on the press run and page count, this can save you upwards of several hundred dollars.)

When Is A PDF Proof Enough?

Here's one answer. Let's say you have seen a color proof (high-res inkjet on gloss paper) of a printed product. Perhaps it is a 4-color section of a directory with color advertising.

Furthermore, let's say your color proof has established that the color is correct in this section, but you need to add rule lines around one or two advertisements. (Maybe they appear to float in the white space of the page without rules around them, and you missed this before sending the job to press.) To save time and money, since you have approved the color, you really don't need to see a hard-copy color proof again.

However, you can't really assume that the printer will add the rule lines to your InDesign file exactly as you would like without seeing some sort of proof. After all, the ads might not be centered within the rules.

This is a perfect opportunity for a PDF proof. You can check the placement of all items. You can even print the PDF on a color laser or inkjet printer. What you can't do is assume that the color is correct. But that doesn't matter in this case since you're only confirming placement of text and art.

The other good news is that a soft proof (screen-based PDF proof) comes to you immediately from your printer via the Internet. You don't need to wait for a courier.

I have one suggestion, though. If your printer is adjusting an InDesign file you have submitted, make sure you have also submitted a low-res PDF to show the printer exactly how the final printed product should look. Telling him to “move the rule line up” is a subjective request. “How far up?” he might ask. If you show him a PDF of the desired result, he can adjust the InDesign file to conform to your wishes.

Fifth Color on Press

A client of mine is publishing a novel. The cover art will be reproduced on press in 4-color process ink plus a match gold. Then the covers will be gloss film laminated.

Four-color process ink cannot match all colors. In fact, the CMYK color space (colors that can be reproduced with these four inks) is relatively small compared to the RGB color space (colors that can be reproduced on computer monitors) or visible light (colors that the eye can perceive). This is why designers and printers often add additional inks to their printing work.

Here are a few times this would be appropriate:

  1. In my client's case, 4-color process inks cannot match gold. The closest they can come is a brownish yellow. Gold ink actually includes flecks of metal suspended in the ink. Therefore, to add the additional ink, my client will need to use a PMS gold (also known as a metallic match color or spot color).
  2. If you have a logo that absolutely must be a certain color (or colors), it is wise to add one or two units of spot color ink to the 4-color process ink set. Since the process color work will vary slightly during the press run (and even across the press sheet), and since match colors do not vary at all, this is a good way to keep corporate logo colors perfectly consistent throughout a press run.
  3. If you're printing a poster that includes a large photo of flowers with colors outside the usual 4-color gamut, you may wish to add a “touch plate.” An additional purple, blue, or orange match color can accentuate these hues (that would otherwise be “out-of-gamut”--i.e., not within the color space) in the offset printed photo.

Of course the press will need to have more than four ink units (many larger commercial printers will have 6-color-, 8-color-, or even 10-color presses). In addition, this supplemental operation will cost more than 4-color work since it will require additional plates, ink, and labor for wash-ups. Expect to pay upwards of a few hundred dollars, depending on the press run and page count for the job.

[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He 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.]