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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.

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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.

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

Blog Articles for PrintIndustry.com

Custom Printing: Buying Just One Prototype of a Presentation Binder

January 17th, 2022

Posted in Box Printing | Comments »

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

I remember learning the concept of a “one-off.” Since I was used to ordering 60,000+ copies of a print book job back in the ‘90s as an art director of a nonprofit government education organization, I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around producing only one copy of anything.

The Product: a One-off Fabric Sample Binder

In that light, about a month ago a print brokering client of mine came to me with a project: a bedding sample presentation binder (turned-edge fabric over binder’s boards). As a less expensive option, she also suggested a cover-stock fold-over “topper,” with cardboard wrapped around the top of a stack of bedding fabric samples. Both of these reminded me of the wood-sample presentation box I brokered earlier this year for a flooring manufacturer, so I had some idea of where to go for custom printing help.

As just noted, my client wanted a high-end option with turned-edge fabric over binder’s boards. This is not unlike a casebound book, in that the fabric material would be folded over and then glued down to thick chipboard. It would open up (i.e., you would lift the top, and there would be a stack of 12” x 12” fabric samples attached to the bottom cover by two screw-and-post assemblies that would go through holes drilled into the fabric. The screw-and-post assemblies would not only hold everything together; they would also be removable, so the fabric sample pieces could be taken out, reordered, or replaced. When the top was lowered, the case would essentially be a top-opening binder with short vertical sides going forward from the spine (maybe 2”) for stability and protection.

My client would choose the fabric. She also wanted to foil stamp her logo in one, two, or three colors on the front top of the binder.

Option B would be the fold-over topper, essentially a sheet of cardboard covering the back of the stack of bedding fabric samples and then coming up and over the top. The topper would extend downward (maybe 3”), with hot foil stamped custom printing (one color in the sample) of the logo, contact information, etc. A single staple would hold everything together (an especially thick and strong staple to go through the top, all 12’’ x 12” fabric samples, and the bottom of the wrap-around topper).

So, these were options A and B. But just in case all of this broke my client’s budget, she later sent me photos of a plastic binder with clear plastic envelopes opening at the top. A sample fabric swatch could be slipped into each envelope, and the front of the plastic binder could be decorated by the printer.

Now the key for you to remember here is that this is a one-off project, essentially a prototype. If my client’s clients like the product, they may go forward and produce another 50 copies or 100 copies. That’s not a lot. This display case would only need to be sent to business locations within one US state. And this was not even a certainty.

How I Proceeded

Having brokered the flooring-sample display case earlier in the year, the first thing I did was go back to the previous vendors. Neither could do the one-off item. Both vendors were set up to make prototypes (but of a hand-made quality) only as a precursor to a longer run.

So I approached a high-end marketing-item vendor I’ve known for a decade and asked for suggestions. He mentioned a local letterpress vendor. I knew the letterpress vendor was set up to do very short runs of pristine work. In fact, what I was looking for was (probably) a single business owner working out of a house, making one copy or ten or 100 copies of such display boxes or other turned-edge products. A large firm wouldn’t be interested. At least that was my assumption.

I also put the specs up on the Printing Industry Exchange website, always a good way to get new vendors.

Furthermore, at this point I had begun to consider the specific commercial printing technology needed for the product. Custom screen printing might be nice (on the fabric case), with opulent, thick ink. But then I remembered what I always say in the PIE Blog articles. Custom screen printing is for very large press runs. With all of the make-ready work, I couldn’t imagine the cost to screen print one copy.

So I moved on to letterpress and foil stamping as options to decorate both the turned-edge presentation binder and the paper topper. Since my client’s logo included three colors, I knew this would be expensive. I feared she might abandon the project due to cost considerations. After all, each color for the foil stamping would require a metal die to cut the foil. And each die would cost about $300. Under the circumstances, I assumed letterpress would also be expensive, since it would require three metal relief plates (or fewer, if I could get my client to print a one- or two-color version of the logo).

Moving On

By about this time, I had heard back from three vendors: a vendor in India (from the specs I had uploaded to the PIE website), a larger finishing firm (specializing in binding and open to making just one copy), and a vendor with a screen printing press and letterpress in her home (that’s what it looked like on her website).

As noted, one vendor came to me through PIE, but the other two vendors came through the printers I had approached. I knew their referrals would be good because I trust these printers. I have known them for decades, and have cultivated mutually beneficial working relationships with them over the years. There are no better sources for printers than other printers.

The larger finishing house is currently bidding on the job. They would make metal dies and foil stamp the fabric binder or the “wrap-around topper.” I have also asked this vendor to make suggestions on the plastic binder option (the fallback, which my client suggested after sending me photos of the other two options). I know he will be expensive because I understand the process.

The vendor with the custom screen printing press and letterpress in her house (actually I just learned her business is in a small building) is losing her building, so I’m a bit stuck. Depending on when my client will need her single prototype bedding fabric sample binder, this particular vendor may or may not be available. But I had been especially impressed with her website and with the glowing words of the letterpress printer who recommended her. From this I learned (again) that it’s vital to have a back-up plan. In this case the back-up plan will be either the larger, dedicated finishing shop (i.e., they specialize in post-press finishing work) or my wild-card, the printer in India.

The Printer in India

The printer in India is a wild card. He approached me based on the specs I had uploaded to the Printing Industry Exchange website. However, only the printing plant is in India. My contact’s office is on the East Coast of the United States: i.e., potentially accessible if need be. Moreover, he would coordinate shipping, import paperwork and duties, and all the other things I’ve never needed to learn about and that seem particularly ominous considering current shipping delays.

In addition, he has offered to do this as a service, which he offers to clients. That is, the product would be a prototype, a single copy, a one-off print job. He usually does this for $300 plus shipping. Maybe he presumes I will work with him in the future (or my client will).

Overall, for the price, and assuming my client will review samples from this particular printer (not just photos of his samples), I have presented this option as a gamble. My client would have a back-up plan (probably the larger vendor who focuses on post-press finishing work), but first she would take a risk on the printer in India (if there’s time for this in her schedule). I’m not advising her to do this. Personally, the farthest I’ve gone to buy printing has been Canada. I’m just presenting this as an option.

But now, here’s the real surprise: The printer in India would do the foil decoration using a Scodix machine. Scodix digitally adds a faux-foil (really colored plastic) coating without making any metal dies. That is, the process saves $300 for each extra color done traditionally, and at the same time it allows for multiple colored foils to be used at the same time. Plus, the samples I’ve seen of Scodix work are quite good.

But it is an option. I’ve laid out all of these possibilities for my client, and I am waiting for pricing from the vendor who specializes in post-press finishing work. We’ll see how things go.

What We Can Learn

There’s a wealth of information here. Consider these points when you’re buying printing:

  1. If you’re doing something out of the ordinary, go to your trusted commercial printing suppliers, and ask for referrals. You have already established a level of trust, so their recommendations will be golden.
  2. Consider larger printers, but also consider smaller printers (or in my case micro-vendors, or “cottage-industry shops”). Base this on the size of your press run. Printers who staff up (and buy equipment for longer press runs) often can’t handle extremely short runs economically, whereas small shops often have tabletop, hand-operated equipment.
  3. Always have one or two back up plans. One of your printers may be unavailable at the moment (like the aforementioned cottage-shop vendor who needs a new location for her business).
  4. Think carefully about the preferred custom printing method. Custom screen printing might look good, but for one copy it’s prohibitively expensive. Consider foil stamping or Scodix digital decoration.

What will I do if my client doesn’t want to take the risk of buying a prototype from India, and if the post-press finishing shop is too expensive, and if the vendor losing her building can’t get a new one in time? I’ll contact all of my trusted vendors again and ask for referrals to good printers who have a Scodix digital foil machine.

Posted in Box Printing | Comments »

Top Points to Consider While Hiring a Printing Service

January 10th, 2022

Posted in Printing | Comments »

When selecting a printing company, your goal should be to choose one that best fits your specific objectives and requirements. Additionally, here are a few points to consider before hiring a printing company:

  1. Do They Offer Good Customer Service 

Regrettably, the printing business has been moving away from customised and personal service. In an effort to save costs, There are even free printing websites available online. It appears that many printing companies, particularly those located online, have adopted an automated, self-service business model.

This is a big issue because modern print projects can be complex and complicated. As a result, a majority of clients require more assistance and counsel than ever before.

As a result, choose a printing company that provides personalised service for the finest results. After all, you want your queries and concerns to be addressed quickly and in a professional manner, and you want to be kept informed about the status of your project at all times.

  1. Number of Years in Business

Longevity has shown to be a good measure of credibility in the printing sector, which is continuously evolving and a highly competitive market.

You can be confident that a printing company that has been in business for decades has the expertise and knowledge to efficiently manage your projects. That’s because the longer a printing company has been in business, the more likely they are to have worked on projects that are similar to yours and in your industry.

A printing company that is unreliable and inefficient, on the other hand, is unlikely to last long. When wanting to create a long-term business connection with a commercial printer, it goes without saying that the length of time in business is a critical factor to consider.

  1. Cost-effective and Worth the Money

Everyone wants high-quality printing at a reasonable cost.

In reality, when making any purchase, price is always a factor to consider. A professional printer can add value in a variety of ways in addition to a reasonable price.

Patiently listening to your needs, being available for questions, providing full and accurate quotations, and delivering on time are all qualities that add value.

A printer can additionally add value to a customer’s purchase by providing additional services like embossing, variable data printing, laminating, sequential numbering and so on.

  1. Versatile Range of Services

The scope of projects that a printing company can produce will be severely limited if it only has basic presses and equipment.

A printing company with a large inventory of state of the art equipment, on the other hand, will be able to provide a considerably greater range of printing alternatives. So naturally, you’ll want to work with a printer that has the appropriate technology and expertise to meet your current needs as well as any future requirements you may have.

The above-mentioned points should help you better understand what you are looking for in a printing company for your next printing project. You may log in to our website to get accurate price quotes on several printing services.

 

Posted in Printing | Comments »

How to Find the Best Document Printing Services Online

January 10th, 2022

Posted in Printing | Comments »

Finding the best services for document printing online can get tedious, especially when you have no knowledge or expertise in the subject. If you are looking for someone who can print all your documents without mishandling them online, here is a quick infographic that can help you reach out to them. So, without waiting any further, let’s get to it!

Posted in Printing | Comments »

Custom Printing: Tips on Designing with Photographs

January 10th, 2022

Posted in Design | Comments »

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

In the 1980s, about a year after I had graduated from college and then had edited a small community tabloid for almost no pay, I got what my father called “a real job.” I was hired to copyedit, design, and shoot photos for print books published by a DC-area government education organization. I had been a writer and editor, and I had taken photos for two yearbooks in high school, but I knew nothing about publication design. I only knew how to lay out a tabloid newspaper.

So when I discovered Jan V. White’s Editing by Design, I was thrilled. Next to Getting It Printed (by Mark Beach and Eric Kenly), which has been my go-to textbook on all things related to printing (for the past three decades), Editing by Design has been the best print book I’ve found on publications design.

And just yesterday, I found a copy at a thrift store.

Photography as a Design Tool

What can we learn from Jan White about creating a cohesive design for a printed product (anything from a flyer to a print book) using photographs? Essentially, this question directly addresses the goal of all design. That is, how do you take a huge amount of information (visual and written), put similar things together, separate dissimilar things from one another, and lead the reader’s eye and imagination through all of this information in an enlightening and enjoyable way?

Not an easy task. However, there are some guidelines to get you started. Here are a few from Jan White’s Editing by Design. Actually, even though I refer to photos when describing White’s book, the images in the print book are all hand-drawn illustrations and sketches of book page spreads:

  1. Purpose: Choose photos for either the mood/tone you wish to evoke for the design piece (let’s say the huge opening shot at the beginning of a magazine article) or for the narrative content of the photos. Both approaches eschew photos that are (as Jan White says) just “pretty.”
  2. Size of Photos: The most relevant photo (in terms of advancing the goal/purpose/message of the design piece) should be the largest and most prominently placed. This will lead the reader’s eye to this image first. Other photos, which will be smaller, will create contrast in size (contrast is an important element of all graphic design and fine art), while supporting or furthering the message. As you can see, the design grows organically out of the editorial goal.
  3. Clustering: If your page spread includes a lot of photos (always design in two-page spreads, not single pages; after all, the reader is always looking at a left-hand page next to a right-hand page), consider grouping them rather than scattering the photos across the four or six columns of the two-page spread. Such a cluster organizes multiple images into a single unit, which is easier for the reader’s brain to process. (Unity is another principle of design.) When you cluster photos, you create a focal point. Choose the most important image and make it the largest in the cluster. Position the other photos with consideration (for instance) to the direction the people in the photos are looking or any other lines of sight (the direction of movement in the photo).
  4. Cropping: Jan White says “crop ‘till it hurts” in Editing by Design. That means you should crop in severely on the most important portion of the photos. What is happening? What is central to the message? That can mean cropping into heads, arms, etc. (What I have found over the years, though, is that it’s best not to crop exactly at joints, like the ankle or wrist, and it’s best not to crop out the eyes of the subject of a photo.) Try different cropping options. But focus exclusively on the story the photo is telling.
  5. Jump the Gutter: Two techniques in particular will showcase a large mood photo at the beginning of a magazine article. Jumping the gutter (from the left-hand page to the right-hand page) will make the photo seem larger than if it is confined to the left-hand page alone. Also, bleeding the large photo on the top, bottom, and far left side will make the photo look larger than the page spread or book itself. It will seem to extend off the page infinitely.
  6. Align Eye Levels: You may need to include multiple head shots in your clusters of photos. Let’s say you’re designing an annual report that includes numerous portraits. From birth we are so accustomed to looking first and foremost at people’s faces (and especially their eyes) that it is more comfortable for the reader if you align people’s eye levels when you position a number of photos side by side in a row.
  7. Contrast of Size: In groupings of photos, large images make nearby small images look smaller and vice versa. Use this to your advantage. On page 148 of Editing by Design, Jan White illustrates this with a large and small dog, but White also plays with this a bit by including a full-bleed photo of a man’s head on the left-hand page and several stacked lines of type (the words “biggest man in his field” and nothing else) on the right-hand page. This also demonstrates how a chunk of text surrounded by a sea of empty white space (on the right-hand page) can completely balance a full-bleed close-up photo on the left-hand page. White space (negative space) has visual weight, too.
  8. Break Out of the Picture Frame: Jan White includes three photos side by side on page 151. On the left is a big dog lunging forward. In the middle is a small dog. On the right is a medium-sized dog leaping at the dog in the center photo. Then White creates a montage in which each dog breaks the “picture plane” and extends into the next photo. (With effort, this can be accomplished in Photoshop.) It’s rather dramatic. Grouped, the three photos imply movement and operate as a single image telling a story.
  9. Similarity:You can create unity by grouping photos with similar characteristics. (In one case, Jan White groups two photos of monkeys and a photo of a man.) You can also group photos based on the similarity of their backgrounds. Or you can group them based on the similarity of their composition. (Jan White groups photos of a tree, a giraffe, a scarecrow, a ladder, a flag pole, and a flamingo. All are tall and narrow.) Granted, when you do this, you imply a similarity of “something.” It helps if the similarity you are highlighting pertains directly to your editorial message.
  10. Implied Growth: Editing by Design includes four increasingly larger images of a growing plant. Not only is each slightly larger than the preceding photo, but over the four photos the initial leaf grows into a group of leaves and then into a full plant (both larger and more developed). In this case a collection of photos implies movement (growth) over time. To me this is intriguing since, unlike video, print books usually provide only a static experience of a moment frozen in time.
  11. One Image, Multiple Photos: White includes four images side by side on page 153 of Editing by Design. As a group, they portray what looks like Times Square in New York City. All photos are the same height, but their width varies based on the overall composition (focusing on individual buildings or groups of buildings). Based on the treatment, all images hang together. Having the exact same-width gutter between the vertical photos and having the same top and bottom margin for the series of photos also unify the images.
  12. Mirror Images: Used once, this can be dramatic. Jan White includes a portrait of a woman (face, hair, and one hand) on the left-hand page (full bleed) and the mirror image of the photo on the right-hand page. More than one use of this technique will diminish its power and surprise. A similar trick is to marry two images that are similar both in meaning and in size. To illustrate this, Jan White includes a composite photo comprising half a woman’s face and hair on the right and half a skull on the left (appropriately sized to create a unified image).

The Takeaway

Overall, what can we learn about designing with photos from Jan White’s book, Editing by Design?

  1. Like any other skill, design can be taught (or even learned by oneself, as I did).
  2. There’s no better way to learn design than to study the work of skilled designers. Look for print books on the subject.
  3. An even better approach is to learn by observing. Pay attention to all of the brochures, signs, bumper stickers, print books, vehicle wraps, bus signs, etc., etc., etc., that you can find. If you like something, be able to articulate why. Ask yourself what the message of the ad (or other printed product) is and how the designer has used such tools of the trade as “balance,” “unity,” and “contrast” to reinforce this message. “It’s pretty” isn’t specific enough, although shocking work can grab the reader. It just has to do this for a reason.
  4. More specifically, pay particular attention to how photos are used in ads, on print book covers, etc. How do the photos give the printed product a focal point, and how do they enhance the editorial message?

Posted in Design | Comments »

Custom Printing: Incorporating Fine Art into Print Design

January 2nd, 2022

Posted in Fine Art Printing | Comments »

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

A colleague of mine designs print books for governmental and non-governmental organizations. At present, she is working on a 7” x 10” perfect-bound book. She has subcontracted a painting she plans to use for the book cover. To make sure the artwork reproduces well, she asked me to discuss the project with the fine artist.

Art Reproduction Issues

Most of what I noted had to do with three things: the size of the artwork, the effect of the commercial printing paper substrate on the final art, and the effect of any cover treatment such as UV coating or laminates on the final art.

We also discussed the color gamut of offset commercial printing vs. the color gamut of both the original art and the image on the computer screen (once the artist had photographed the final painting to create a TIFF or JPEG for my client to use).

Then we discussed best practices for photographing the final artwork and identified the best resolution and final format the artist should use for the digitized image of the painting.

Finally, we discussed the need to review the composite image of the painting blended with the cover designer’s type treatment for the print book cover. I said this might require some back and forth interaction and revision on the part of both the fine artist and the book designer to ensure the congruence of the painting and the type.

All of These Potential Concerns in More Detail

The first thing I mentioned was the size of the original art. I noted that it could be larger than the final reproduction size of 7” x 10” but not smaller. I told the fine artist that any flaws in the art would be magnified with enlargement, but more importantly, there would most probably be visible pixellation upon enlargement (the square pixels would be noticeable).

I suggested that she make the final painting larger than the 7” x 10” size but not by a lot. Too large, and any details she would include might become invisible (or at least might be below the threshold of visibility) once the art had been reduced to the final size.

I noted that the color of the cover printing stock would affect the colors of the painting. I assumed the cover paper choice would be out of the artist’s control, but I thought she should know this anyway. I said that white paper tones could vary from a blue-white to a yellow-white shade, and that this could affect the perceived hues of the acrylic or watercolor paints she would be using.

Moreover, I noted that uncoated stock would give the painting a softer feel, more organic and earthy, whereas gloss coated stock (at the other extreme), and particularly gloss coated stock with an additional gloss UV coating or laminate, would make the final painting appear crisper and perhaps harsher and more clinical. Again, I did not expect her to have control over the final print book production, but I thought she should know all of this before starting the painting. This awareness might inform her style and approach to the final painting (particularly since I knew the subject matter would include buildings, potentially a rather impersonal subject).

I told the fine artist that the art she produced would include a wider color gamut than the final offset printed image could match because it would only include the process colors of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. I said the secondary colors of orange, purple, and green within her painting might shift a little. Moreover, I mentioned that once she had photographed the final painting and had uploaded the image to her computer, it would appear to have a much larger color gamut because it would then be in the RGB (red/green/blue) color space.

Moreover, I said she should be mindful that the colors on screen (composed of back-lit, highly saturated hues) would make the image look brighter and fuller than the image she would see on the final print book. Again, I said this need not be a problem; she just might want to be aware of the limitations when creating the art.

Digitizing the Painting

The spring and summer before college I worked at the National Collection of Fine Arts, a Smithsonian art museum. I befriended an art conservator, and she showed me the conservation lab where paintings were cleaned and repaired. In this same studio, conservators photographed the art (for analysis and also for reproduction in the museum’s coffee-table print books). Understandably, these photos had to be of the highest possible quality.

One of the things I saw was that the art was mounted on a large, rigid, wood easel, and the lighting was bright, diffused, and completely even, being cast from spotlights positioned at a 45 degree angle on either side of the easel.

So I suggested that the artist for the book cover painting use good, even lighting and a tripod to keep the camera rigid, and capture the image at a resolution of at least 300 dpi (assuming double the 150 lpi printer’s halftone screen and with the art presented at the final 7” x 10” size). I asked her to provide both a TIFF and a JPEG, so the print book designer and the printer would have options.

Proofing the Artwork

I encouraged the artist to print a hard-copy proof on an inkjet printer. I said that such a print would be closer to the actual coloration of the final print book since it would be created with ink rather than light (i.e., it would not be artificially enhanced by the back-lit computer monitor or the larger RGB color gamut).

I also suggested that the artist work closely with the cover designer to ensure a congruence of mood or tone between the cover type treatment and her painting. Moreover, I said the type might inadvertently obscure some element(s) of importance in the subject matter of the painting, so I wanted to make sure the artist would know this and/or be able to adjust the artwork as needed.

I noted that the artist’s starting with more, rather than less, saturated colors would yield a more dramatic and immediately recognizable cover picture. I said that the reader would have a shorter attention span looking at the print book cover than looking at the original painting, since the image would be competing with the type on the book cover. I said the artist might want to make some areas more intense or more subdued depending on the type treatment.

Finally, I asked the painter to consider how the artwork would fit on the cover (accounting for the aspect ratio–height to width–plus 1/8″ bleeds). Would the image bleed onto the spine? Or would it even bleed onto the back cover?

I noted that being mindful in this way as she created the painting would ensure that nothing would be inadvertently cropped out.

The Takeaway

Using a painting as a cover image is similar to basing a cover design on a large color photograph. That said, you may also need to consider such things as visible brush strokes in the art, or the ability of the offset printing process to capture certain colors faithfully.

It’s helpful to digitize the image once it is complete and then check it in a number of ways: definitely at 100 percent size on the computer but also at higher magnification to judge its resolution and review any brush strokes or even flaws, and then as a 100-percent-size physical proof, so you won’t be inadvertently misled by the image on the computer screen.

In fact, if you haven’t color calibrated your monitor and printer, you might want to have the offset printing supplier provide an interim color-correct proof produced on his inkjet equipment.

The more different ways you can view the final digitized painting, both with and without the type treatment with which it is paired, the more nuanced your judgment can be, and the less likelihood there will be that you will be surprised or displeased with the final print book cover.

Posted in Fine Art Printing | Comments »

How to Get to the Best Book Printing Services Online?

December 31st, 2021

Posted in Business Cards | Comments »

Getting a book printed is tedious, especially when this is your first time! Whether you are a professional book author or trying to get, your first copies printed, finding the best book printing services can be challenging, especially when you don’t have the right knowledge to choose one. This blog post has got some of the best tips to help you reach your goal efficiently. So, what are you waiting for? Let’s dive in already!

Don’t Depend on a Single Quote

The first and the most important thing while looking for the best book printing service provider is never to depend on one single quote. Maybe one of your family members recommended you a person who can help you print books but, this person should not be the only one to rely on. You should do your own research, and if that seems tiring, all you have to do is find out the best quote providing services and find your answers right there!

Make Sure They Use Quality Printing Equipment

For those who are wondering why does printing equipment matters to us. Before you make the final decision of appointing a company to print your books, you need to make sure that they provide you with quality content. It is a must to check on the inks they use and what type of printing machines they have. If those are good quality, we are sure the readers will have more fun reading them.

The One You Finalize Should Have Good Communication Skills

Communication skills matter a lot, especially when you are getting something important done. Always try to make sure and have a word with the printers in previous. Asking them questions and making sure they understand your needs is important. If they don’t understand and deliver the wrong word to their workers, you might lose a lot of money. So, if you wish to play safe, make sure you do proper research before making an informed decision.

Ensure to Select the One With a Good Reputation

While you have a list of quotes with you, it can get very easy to figure out which one is the best service provider. All you have to do is visit their website and check for the reviews and ratings. We are sure this is the first and the most important step to know about a company’s reputation as customers always speak the truth. To get to know who is the best service provider, you can also have a word with the previous clients and how they like the services. We are sure if you follow the norms correctly, you will be the desired printing company easily.

Now that you know research plays a crucial part in selecting the best book printing services, why don’t you ease up your work by asking for multiple quotes online? We make sure that you meet the best printers at a nominal cost! So, what are you waiting for? Get your quotes and start shortlisting to find out the best available book printing service onl

Posted in Business Cards | Comments »

Why You Should Hire a Printing Company For Your Business’ Marketing Needs

December 31st, 2021

Posted in Business Cards | Comments »

With today’s technological advancements, many people believe they can accomplish almost anything for themselves. However, performing certain duties from home may not always be the ideal option. Especially, If your organization’s image and reputation are on the line, you should consider outsourcing printing to a company that specializes in this field.

Despite the growing popularity of online marketing strategies, the brochure remains a critical component of a company’s marketing strategy. Brochures are among the most cost-effective ways to network your company, build your brand, and show off some creativity that is sometimes missed in digital marketing.

The introduction of digital printing allows businesses to rapidly create a simple brochure and have it printed for a low cost and in a short amount of time. However, these costs are reduced when businesses purchase in bulk for conferences and large tradeshows.

You can easily establish the level of brand awareness you want for your business by hiring a service that offers online brochure printing or offline, depending on your location and convenience.

Benefits That Hiring a Printing Company Offers:

Ensuring that a design is positioned and printed correctly is vital for your business to make the best possible impression on both present and potential customers. Using the services of a professional printer will expose you to a variety of resources and possibilities that will help you stand out from your competition, among several other advantages such as:

  1. It is a Much Better Alternative 

When you decide to hire the services of a professional printing company, it opens you up to a world of possibilities to add a professional touch to your printed materials. These companies have knowledge and expertise in graphic design and will be able to enhance your company’s branding.

Using an in house team or doing it yourself is an option, but it can lead to you wasting valuable time, money, and resources due to the training and recruitment process.

  1. Helps You Save on Various Costs

Replacing ink cartridges is also expensive, indicating another incentive to choose a local printing company. Not only will you save money on ink, but you will also save valuable time. You can use the time to focus on other more important elements of your company.

In this competitive world, time is money, so why waste it by doing your own printing?

  1. Offers You Quick and Effective Service

Printing is the main business of professional printing companies, so they’ll take care of the company’s needs; they will be able to service you whether you need brochures, business cards, or other such printed materials or even a unique speciality item. The ideal printing service will provide a speedy and efficient service.

The above-mentioned points should help you understand the benefits that a professional printing service can offer your business. If you wish to hire, printing services contact us for price quotes and other crucial information.

Posted in Business Cards | Comments »

Commercial Printing: Reviewing Your Printing Bills

December 27th, 2021

Posted in Invoices | Comments Off on Commercial Printing: Reviewing Your Printing Bills

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

It’s time to pay the piper. Your commercial printing vendor has printed and bound your job and delivered it as requested. And you have just received the invoice via email. How do you confirm its accuracy to make sure you’re not overpaying?

In this light, a custom printing client of mine just produced 50 sets of colored chin cards. She usually produces a small color-swatch print book bound on a screw-and-post assembly to help clients choose colors for cosmetics and clothing based on their complexion and hair color.

These are a bit like small PMS color books. As a complementary item for her product line, this time she produced 8.5” x 11” laminated, colored cards based on the same proprietary color system. A client will hold selected cards under her chin to see how the colors on the cards either complement or clash with her complexion.

Each card has a die-cut half circle on the long side. A client’s chin goes in the die cut, and this allows the colors to come up a bit higher on either side of her face.

So from a printer’s point of view, these are 8.5” x 11” cards on 14 pt. stock, laminated on both sides, die cut on one of the 11” sides, collated but not shrink wrapped, 32 cards per set, 50 sets total, delivered to my client’s house (i.e., inside delivery, not dock-to-dock delivery).

My Client’s Overall Payment Schedule

Since Covid-19, things have tightened up a bit for the commercial printing suppliers with whom I work. Not all clients had been paying in a timely manner, so the following payment schedule has been in effect with most of my printers for almost two years for clients who do not have credit terms (i.e., have not been vetted for credit accounts).

Most printers want 50 percent payment up front (with the submission of art files) and 50 percent payment prior to their shipping the completed jobs to my clients. Some of the book printers have even begun to require 110 percent total payment prior to shipping to cover overage (from 3 percent to 10 percent of the total required press run). This is acceptable in the commercial printing trade to allow for spoilage during post-press bindery work.

Splitting the bill in this way can be confusing or frustrating for clients who don’t expect it. (Some printers even split payment into three parts, with 50 percent of the total due with art file submission, 50 percent due prior to shipping the job to the client, and a final bill to account for overs, corrections, and any shipping costs unforeseen in the initial bid.)

I can understand my clients’ frustration. However, I also see that Covid-19 has disrupted supply chains, and I know that commercial printing vendors must buy paper and other materials up front before a job can be printed. For them to stay in business, they must manage cash flow and make sure they receive all payment for all materials, manufacturing, and shipping.

My understanding the printer’s point of view helps me explain the new requirements to clients who don’t want to go through a credit check to establish credit terms (and since most of my clients are freelancers or proprietors of small businesses, most do pay in cash).

So this is the overall payment process.

My Client’s First and Second Invoice

To determine the accuracy of my client’s invoice, the first thing I did upon its receipt was compare the bill to the specifications I had initially drafted for the fashion color chin cards. (I had already matched my spec sheet to the printer’s estimate before my client had submitted the art files over a month ago.) My spec sheet and the printer’s estimate are invaluable tools in reviewing the final invoices for accuracy.

First I checked all job specifications, including size, paper, lamination, press work (ink colors and sides of the paper to be printed), kind of proof requested, and die-cutting requirements. All of this matched my expectations and also matched the estimate and the initial invoice. This was the “base price,” which was congruent with the “base quote.”

The second, follow-up bill included detailed shipping information and prices charged by the shipping carrier (at cost, not marked up). The prices were consistent with prior jobs of this size shipped a comparable distance. (I did not just assume the shipping cost was ok; I compared it to prior, similar jobs.)

The bill also included overs. The printer charged for two extra sets of chin cards, which is four percent of the 50 copies ordered. (This is very reasonable, since 10 percent is acceptable industry standard as the upper limit. Keep in mind that 10 percent unders are also acceptable, so in your own print buying work, if you need “no fewer than” a certain number, you will have to accept a higher potential (often negotiable) overage. Overage also occurs in simpler jobs because it’s not possible to stop an offset press on a dime. (It’s much easier to control overage on a digital press.)

What didn’t look right was an additional $55.00 for die cutting. Here’s why. My client had already printed this job. In the process she had paid $300+ for the die creation, which did not show up in the cost of the reprint. That’s good. However, if the $55.00 had been for make-ready on the actual die cutting of this job (as opposed to the die-making), it should have been noted in the original estimate. And it had not been so noted. Therefore, when I queried the print customer sales rep, she said I should have my client underpay by that amount.

The bill also included a 3 percent Visa convenience charge (separately, on both the original estimated amount and the final, supplemental charges). This is the norm. Some printers will accept electronic funds transfers from banks (avoiding this charge). Some will not.

Finally, the invoice included charges for two author’s alterations billed at $45.00 per hour. This is very reasonable. Depending on the location of the printer (and the cost of living at that location), hourly prices for client corrections can range upwards from $70.00 to $100.00. The best way my clients can avoid such costs is by carefully checking the job before its submission. However, things do happen. Everyone is human.

Once my client had checked the actual printed copies (i.e., reviewed random samples in the various cartons delivered) and approved the final bill (with the change in the die-cutting price I had flagged), it was time to “pay the piper.” She did so by Visa, as noted before. So all told she had to pay two separate bills. As noted before, other clients may have paid three. My client chose to pay the whole quoted price (exclusive of overs, author’s alterations, and shipping) up front and then pay the final, follow-up bill reflecting the overage, corrections, and shipping charges.

As an additional point of information, the second bill prominently noted the amount my client had already paid up front posted against the overall cost and reflecting a final balance (of about $300.00 on the overall $2,000.00+ job cost).

What You Should Look For

All of this is probably painfully boring to ponder. However, it is part of the process of buying commercial printing. It does you a disservice to assume everything on the bill is complete or correct. So it’s smart to look for these things:

  1. Check the accuracy of the initial quotation compared to your own spec sheet and the commercial printing vendor’s initial estimate (the base price). It is wise to develop your own spec sheet over time, tweaking it as necessary for one project or another, and one vendor or another. Complex jobs like print books will usually require a more complex spec sheet, as will jobs requiring complex finishing work or having complex shipping requirements.
  2. Check shipping specs and compare costs to similar projects with similar carton weights and destinations. If your initial bid notes “FOB printer’s dock,” your responsibility and costs begin prior to actual shipping, so ask about this when you get the initial job estimate.
  3. Note the reasonable percentage of overage/underage.
  4. Note any additions for author’s alterations. Although you pay for your mistakes, it is reasonable for you to expect the printer to pay for his.
  5. Check the math, particularly on book printing estimates and bills. Everyone is human, and I’ve received estimates with spreadsheets that had been inaccurately compiled, yielding accurate unit costs but inaccurate line items and therefore inaccurate total costs. Assume nothing. Check everything.

Posted in Invoices | Comments Off on Commercial Printing: Reviewing Your Printing Bills

Custom Printing: Flexography (A Modern Version of Letterpress)

December 13th, 2021

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Custom Printing: Flexography (A Modern Version of Letterpress)

Photo purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

Every so often I like to take the time to study in depth a commercial printing technology of which I have only a cursory knowledge: i.e., something new. Flexography fits nicely into this category.

For most of the last two decades I had known the flexographic process was good for food packaging. And during the decade in which my fiancee and I installed standees in movie theaters, I had learned that all of the flat black standee components (those not printed on gloss litho paper laminated to the cardboard) were flexo printed.

Back in the 1990’s when I was an art director, I had seen flexo-printed labels, and I could point out the slightly mottled or uneven solids on the matte litho label paper. At the time, these were less crisp than offset printed products. I also had known that flexography used rubber relief plates (i.e., unlike the planographic, or flat, printing plates used for offset lithography).

But when I was doing some reading recently, I learned the process was essentially modern-day letterpress, so I became intrigued. It touched my love of fine art, fine craftsmanship, and history as it relates to commercial printing.

This is what I learned.

The Technology

Flexography is similar to letterpress because it uses relief plates. The image areas are raised above the plate. When the plates are inked, only the raised areas print. Unlike most letterpress, however, the plates are rubber instead of metal, and the press is rotary (the rubber plates are wrapped around sleeves that are attached to the press rollers) rather than flatbed (straight up and down like most if not all letterpress equipment). In contrast, offset printing depends on the fact that oil-based ink and water stay separate from one another, so the image area and non-image area of an offset plate can be on the same flat surface. (Therefore, the process is described as “planographic”—or flat–rather than as “relief” like letterpress, or as “intaglio”–or recessed like engraving.)

Furthermore, flexography can print on almost any substrate, such as the plastic sheeting used to make bags containing bread at the grocery store. If you tried to print these on even a web offset press that would hold the plastic sheet under tension, you’d still have a mess. But you can print such plastic sheeting, the cardboard used for milk cartons, and other food packaging, or any number of other things including metallic foils, with flexography.

Back in the 1990’s, when I was an art director, flexography was not great (i.e., accurate or precise) for 4-color work and halftones, and even the labels my staff and I printed were a little blotchy. But this is no longer the case. Major improvements have been made to the inks, the press equipment, and the photopolymer plates since the ‘90s (Wikipedia). This now allows for control over halftones and gradients and incorporates ways to mitigate the substantially higher than usual (compared to offset) dot gain of flexography.

The Process

Ink rollers (also known as fountain rollers) distribute the water-based ink (unlike the oil-based ink of offset lithography) across anilox rollers, which are coated with fine, laser-etched wells (similar to gravure) that hold only a fixed amount of ink. Excess ink is removed with a doctor blade (again, like gravure). The anilox rollers apply a controlled amount of ink to the raised image areas of the photopolymer or rubber plates affixed to the sleeves on the plate rollers, and the plate rollers apply the ink to the substrate. (That is, this differs from offset printing, which prints on the press blanket first and then transfers the image from the blanket to the substrate.) These image or plate rollers are backed up by impression rollers that keep the substrate (which travels between the image rollers and impression rollers) flat and tight against the plates.

To back up just slightly, the rubber plates used in this process are imaged using either negatives (UV light hardens the image areas, and the remaining coating can be washed away) or direct-laser engraving technology (similar to the process used to burn offset custom printing plates). There is a third option that uses a negative of the image area and then actually makes two separate molds (yielding one raised printing plate). These printing plates are then taped to the sleeves wrapped around the plate rollers.

If conventional inks are used for the process, hot air (i.e, from dryers) is blown across the surface of the printed substrate to dry the ink. If UV inks are used, then UV light is used to instantly cure and solidify the ink on the surface of the custom printing stock (i.e., the ink doesn’t seep into the substrate).

The substrate usually travels from one web roll (i.e., so it can be under tension) through the press (through presumably four or more inking units), through the dryer, and on to a rewinding web roll so the printed product can always be under tension and therefore flat.

Finally, post-press operations can occur (cutting printed milk carton flats and then assembling and gluing them into completed boxes, for instance).

A wide variety of inks can be used. These include solvent inks, water-based inks, UV-curing inks, EB or electron-beam curing inks, and two-part chemically reactive inks that cure as the chemicals interact (Wikipedia).

What this means is that you can use a wide variety of substrates, including non-porous materials like plastic sheeting and metallic foils, both of which would not work on an offset lithographic press. Granted, even with the advances since the 1990’s, the are various levels of quality. The lower end is good for flat colors (like the black backgrounds for cardboard movie standees) and lettering (also appropriate for some corrugated board printing). The next level up would include more detailed corrugated board printing. And the highest level of quality would be appropriate for custom label printing (up to four-color process work matching the quality of offset commercial printing).

According to Wikipedia, here’s a list of potential substrates: “plastic, foil, acetate film, brown paper, and other materials used in packaging” (Wikipedia). This is good for corrugated board, shopping bags, “food and hygiene bags and sacks, milk and beverage cartons, flexible plastics, self-adhesive labels, disposable cups and containers, envelopes, and wallpaper” (Wikipedia). Interestingly enough, the process has improved so much that some newspapers prefer flexo to offset. Flexo inks are thinner than offset inks (i.e., “of lower viscosity”) (Wikipedia), so they dry faster, and this speeds up the overall manufacturing process and saves money.

Plus, the overall process yields web rolls of printed stock, which can then be unwound, slit, and processed, to create the bags, cartons, and other packaging products. (Therefore, the post-press work can be done very efficiently.)

The Takeaway

So this is my challenge for you, one that I undertake regularly as well. When you are in the grocery store, be mindful of the packaging. This is a huge and lucrative arena of commercial printing work. Notice the kind of design work (the creative) applied to the boxes of frozen food, the bags of bread, even the corrugated cartons from which the stocking clerks are removing products to put up on the shelves.

Consider the permeability of some of the packaging materials (like the bread bags). Notice that the artwork is detailed but not as detailed as offset commercial printing work. Look for the registration marks used to keep the colors aligned. (Registration can be challenging in flexography.) And keep in mind that all of the inks have to be food grade, acceptable to the FDA for being in contact with products that will be consumed.

A simple walk through the grocery store will open your mind to a whole new world of product packaging produced with technology derived from the raised lettering of the flatbed letterpresses Gutenberg might have used in the 1400’s.

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Custom Printing: Flexography (A Modern Version of Letterpress)

5 Reasons Why Print Marketing is Still Valid Today!

December 9th, 2021

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on 5 Reasons Why Print Marketing is Still Valid Today!

For people who think that digital marketing is the only way to promote and bring your business on top, you are wrong! Traditional marketing techniques that use brochures, business cards and flyer printing services are still in demand. If you want your company to excel, then using both marketing types is the best way. Still not convinced? Here are quick reasons why print marketing is still in fashion.

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on 5 Reasons Why Print Marketing is Still Valid Today!

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