Heavy Coverage and Bleeds
When specifying a job for a printing
estimate, it is very important to let your printer know
whether the ink will bleed (extend off the edge of the page)
and whether there will be heavy ink coverage on your printed
Let’s take these one by one and
Ink bleeds off the edge of the printed
sheet when, during the finishing process, the trimming knives
cut into the inked areas of one or more edges. The ink doesn’t
really extend off the page; rather the trimming knives cut
more closely so the ink appears to extend off the page.
What this means is that your printer may need to use a larger
press sheet, which may in turn require the use of a larger
press, increasing the price of the job.
The same is true for heavy coverage
(or solids). If your printer must “paint the sheet,”
or lay down a heavy coating of ink on your printed piece,
more ink will be used, again increasing the price. If the
job is large and the press run is long, ink costs will be
affected. This is particularly true if your printer must
print a screen of one color and then print over this screen
with another color to ensure the evenness of the solid.
Sometimes, a printer will be forced
to use a larger, more sophisticated press to ensure even
coverage within solid areas and to avoid mottling. These
presses provide more consistency due to their additional
features, but they will cost you more.
Don’t keep your printer in the
dark about heavy coverage and ink bleeds, or you may find
quite a discrepancy between the initial bid and the final
PMS vs. Black Ink
A related matter involves the cost
of black ink vs. the cost of a PMS ink or match color. In
simplest terms, a PMS ink costs more than black ink. Therefore,
when you specify ink for a print job, note not only how
many colors you plan to use but also whether they are process
colors, PMS inks, or black and one or more PMS inks.
For example, in printers’ shorthand,
you might note that a job will print PMS + K / same (2/2).
This means that one side of the sheet will be printed with
a match color and black, and the other side will be printed
with the exact same colors. Remember that varnish is also
considered an ink (actually an ink with a vehicle but no
pigment). Therefore, if you were to flood gloss varnish
both sides of the above-mentioned job, you would spec it
as follows: PMS + K + flood gloss varnish / same, and you
would consider this a 3/3 (three-color over three-color)
printing job. The K, by the way, is printers’ parlance
for black. It stands for “key.”
To complicate matters, make sure to
alert your printer if your 2/2 job or 3/3 job does not use
the exact same colors on both sides of the press sheet.
Otherwise, he may assume they are the same colors and estimate
your job accordingly. Then, when the bill comes, it may
be higher than you expect.
A good way to save money in printing
is to mix ink and varnish. A little varnish mixed with ink
makes the ink more scuff-resistant and at the same time
can add a sheen or dull down the luster of the printed image.
On the other hand, adding a little ink to varnish can provide
a barely visible, almost ghostly image. Both of these techniques
will yield interesting results depending on the amount of
ink relative to varnish. It is always wise to discuss your
goals with your printer. Showing him actual samples that
meet your expectations is a sure way to take the guess-work
out of the job.
The Skinny on Press Deadlines
Give your printer time to do the job
right. Discuss your expectations first. Ask pointed questions
about what is and is not realistic, but keep the following
in mind: Your job must go through electronic prepress, press,
and finishing. It will then be sent through mailshop (with
its own series of steps) before being dropped in the mail.
Once it is in the mail stream, it will still take time to
get to its destination. Discuss all of these steps with
your print provider, and keep in mind that if one of these
steps takes longer than expected, the rest of the target
dates will usually move, too.
[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.]