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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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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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Custom Printing: A Few Thoughts on Paper Stocks

Paper choices can make or break a job. In fact, paper is what makes a custom printing job a physical product, although the paper used in a print job often goes unnoticed. That said, it can still have an immense subliminal effect on the reader.

Here are a few thoughts on paper: how to choose it, how to use it.

Commercial Printing on Gloss vs. Dull, or Matte, Coated Paper

If you’re not going to print your job on an uncoated stock, your other two choices are gloss and matte coated text or cover paper. As a rule, it is easier to read large amounts of text on a dull or matte press sheet than on a gloss coated sheet, but photographs seem more dramatic (i.e., they “pop”) more on a gloss coated press sheet than on a matte sheet.

If your job includes both heavy text sections and numerous photos that you want to showcase, consider choosing a matte or dull sheet and then spot gloss varnishing the photos. This will give you the best of both worlds.

Commercial Printing on Uncoated Paper

Photos and text will not be as crisp if printed on an uncoated press sheet, but this might actually be the effect you want. Let’s say you’re designing a brochure print job for a paper company and you want to showcase the environmental benefits of a certain paper stock. An uncoated sheet might just project the muted “look” you want. The crispness of the gloss coated sheet, or even the dull coated sheet, might actually conflict with the earthy, environmental tone you’re trying to convey.

That said, inks printed on uncoated paper seep into the substrate because there’s no coating to support the ink film (this is called “holdout”). Process inks and spot colors can seep into the fibers and look dull. Talk with your commercial printing vendor about this. He will be able to “open” the separations to allow for a lighter coating of ink on press. When this lighter amount of ink seeps into the paper (causing “dot gain” as it spreads), the more open screens (with smaller halftone dots) will compensate for the dot gain, and the overall effect will be more pleasing. The images won’t appear to be over-inked.

This does, however, require a fair amount of skill on your custom printing supplier’s part, so you may want to discuss your goals with your printer early in the process and/or attend a press inspection to check the overall results.

A Few Notes on Paper Handling

Paper behaves almost like a living organism. If you expose it to humidity, it will grow. This growth due to moisture will be greater in the “cross grain” direction (in contrast to “with the grain”) by a magnitude of three times. Too much moisture can warp the printing stock, or it can result in extended ink drying times. What this means is that if your printer does not handle your paper stock correctly, it will curl, become wavy, or not hold its proper dimensions.

Low humidity is bad, too. It can cause the paper to contract at the edges and expand in the middle of the sheet. Low humidity can cause problems with static electricity, change the dimensions of the paper causing misregistration on press, or make the paper brittle.

Because problems occur when paper is exposed to less than ideal humidity (or temperature, since they are related), paper needs to arrive at your custom printing vendor’s shop early, with enough time before your press date to allow it to become acclimated to your printer’s factory floor.

For instance, if the paper travels in a truck from the paper mill during the winter, and it arrives at your printer’s shop with a 10 degree Celsius (50 degree Fahrenheit) difference between the outdoor temperature (through which it traveled) and your printer’s room temperature, the paper must sit on the perssroom floor for 10 hours.

If the difference between the inside and outside temperature is 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), the paper needs 30 hours to become acclimated to your printers inside temperature. (according to A Guide to Graphic Print Production, Second Edition, by Kaj Johansson, Peter Lundberg, and Robert Ryberg).

Your printer will want to adhere to these standards and let the paper condition correctly. After all, changes in paper dimension due to humidity problems can wreak havoc with a printer’s workflow and schedule. Therefore, make sure your paper arrives at the printer’s shop early enough to allow plenty of time for this conditioning.

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