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Printing Industry Exchange ( 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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Commercial Printing: Sappi Paper Book Highlights Tactile Options

I received a book in the mail today from Sappi Paper, and I wanted to share some of it with you. Sappi makes paper. It is a paper manufacturer, in contrast to a paper merchant, which sells paper for a number of mills. A paper merchant is somewhat like a broker.

So Sappi makes paper, and this particular book is called The Standard #5. Obviously there are four books that precede this one (discussing everything from color management to preparing files for print to scoring and folding to paper coatings), and I would encourage all of you to request all of them. They show you what’s possible in the realm of printing and what’s available in the paper market. Think of paper merchant’s promotional books such as these as a showcase by the paper mills of their best work.

If you request samples (and I would encourage you to request both unprinted paper swatch books and the promotional books), the paper merchants will happily oblige. Why? Because if you like what you see, the paper manufacturers think you will probably ask your printer to buy paper from their mill or the paper merchant (which you probably will).

Printing Options Abound

That said, what does The Standard #5 say about printing?

  1. Varnishes: Look at the print book under good lighting. You will see various treatments using varnishes (both gloss and dull) and UV coatings. Under bright lights you can see the subtle way the commercial printing vendor has played these surfaces against one another, contrasting a gloss coated photo, for instance, with the dull background of the text sheet.
  2. Raised Gloss UV: On other pages you will notice that raised gloss UV coatings over a bottle containing a miniature ship can give the impression of actual glass (because of its intense sheen). Moreover, the gloss UV coating applied to only the image makes it stand out and look three-dimensional.
  3. Textured UV: In addition, there are now textured UV coatings that simulate sand (called “sandpaper UV coating”). Juxtaposing sandpaper UV and “soft touch” UV (which can simulate fur), the designer of the Sappi Standard #5 has created a mounted boar’s head with rough bristles and a furry snout. On another page, the soft-touch UV gives Henry VIII a furry textured shirt and hat.
  4. Thermography: In most cases you will see thermography used for letterhead or business cards. Powder is applied to wet offset ink, excess powder is vacuumed off, and then the printed product is heated, making the powder and ink bubble up to create a raised image. This simulates engraved text, like you might see on a fine wedding invitation. However, in The Standard #5, thermography has been used to create a faux-woodcut pirate. The simple lines of the drawing are raised, providing a pleasing tactile experience as you run your hand over the art. The custom printing supplier has given the pirate a gold tooth and a copper earring using metallic foil (applied with heat and pressure in a single pass on press).
  5. Color Usage: Don’t limit yourself to cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. The Standard #5 includes images of pirate tattoos printed in process colors augmented with touch plates of fluorescent magenta and green. These hues extend the color gamut (i.e., colors reproducible on press) by printing additional color in specific areas of the images. However, you could also ask your commercial printing supplier to replace the usual cyan, magenta, and yellow with one or more fluorescent versions of the process colors (for less than the cost of touch plates).
  6. Laser Die-cutting: One page in The Standard #5 features a laser die-cut head created with various-sized squares (not unlike various sized halftone dots). A metal die would not have been precise enough to achieve this effect. Instead, a laser burned through the paper to create the image. The print book does note that it is possible for the laser to singe the paper during this process, but if used in a skillful and restrained manner, laser die-cutting can open up possibilities traditional die-cutting could never fathom.
  7. Lenticular Printing: This deserves a print book of its own. Lenticular printing is created with 3D software that interlaces multiple images to simulate movement and depth on printed plastic sheeting. Sappi Standard #5 includes a number of samples of this provocative technique.

The Take Away from This Print Book

  1. Use your imagination, but involve your commercial printing vendor early in the process. Also, expect to pay more for these special effects. That said, it’s often worth the cost, and it may be less expensive than you think.
  2. Get in the habit of requesting sample promotional books from your commercial printing supplier and paper merchant. These will stimulate your creativity. Many of them will also teach you about various custom printing technologies and techniques.
  3. Printing is a tactile medium. The computer, tablet, and smart phone are not. Printing and finishing technologies are stepping up to set printing apart as a viable alternative that can provide options unavailable with digital-only media.

2 Responses to “Commercial Printing: Sappi Paper Book Highlights Tactile Options”

  1. Tricia Stone says:

    My customer loves this sandpaper uv finish. Does anyone know of a source for doing this kind of spot uv in the southeast? I’m a printer in Birmingham, AL. We can’t spot uv but need a source that can do this type. Please email me at

    • admin says:

      First of all, thank you for reading the PIE Blog and leaving a comment. I hope you find the PIE Blog a useful service.

      Other readers of the blog may post additional ideas regarding sandpaper UV, but here’s my suggestion.

      There should be a chapter of PIA (Printing Industry of America) or similar organization covering Alabama. I’d contact them and ask your question about sandpaper UV.

      Here’s one place to start: It’s the Printing Industry Association of the South.

      I’d also post job specifications directly on PIE and see which vendors reply. There is at least one “miscellaneous” section within the PIE job specification bid form in which you can specify such things as proximity to vendor.


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