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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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Custom Printing: Harnessing the Power of Sticky Notes

Without deeper consideration, you might just think the lowly sticky note, that little notepad on your desk, might not offer a wealth of marketing mojo, but that would not be the case.

Just think about it. If your company name were emblazoned on all sticky notes on a potential client’s desk, it would make an impression (conscious or unconscious) every time he or she had to write a note.

Granted, this would also be true for a branded notepad, but a sticky note is more likely to be seen by others as well. So let’s just say your prospective client sends a stack of papers to a colleague. He or she puts a sticky note on the top sheet as a marker to note what’s in the stack of papers. The sticky note and papers circulate around the office, and any number of new potential clients see the name of your company. That’s good advertising, particularly when you consider the low cost of the product.

A “Repositionable Note” Workhorse

At a colleague’s suggestion, I did some research into a South African company that manufactures “SAP,” which stands for “Specialized Adhesive Process.” The company is called Perfect Finish. I found it online at, and this is what they offer:

    1. Depending on the exact model, SAP is an A3- and A4-sized sheetfed “padding system” for sheets of repositionable notes, which are also known as Post-Its (the brand name) and sticky notes. A3 is the international paper system designation, which converted to the US standard would be 11.7” x 16.5”, whereas the A4 size is 8.3” x 11.7”. The larger size can yield a set of 16 standard sticky note pads (known as 16-up per sheet).


    1. The equipment can start with a stack of press sheets produced either via offset lithography or digital printing (laser or inkjet), so there’s flexibility in the SAP process.


    1. The SAP binding equipment essentially adds strips of glue between the individual press sheets as they travel through the machine. The glue can be precisely positioned, so the individual pads can be different sizes (from traditional sticky note squares to vertical bookmarks to mouse pad sized sticky notes).


    1. After the gluing step, the 16-up (or whatever number) pads can be trimmed into their individual final sizes on a guillotine cutter.


    1. One thing that makes the SAP machine stand out is that it’s very small (2,600 mm x 700 mm, which is 102.36” x 27.56”) and surprisingly inexpensive. To a commercial printing vendor, this means it’s affordable, easily positioned on the factory floor, and potentially very lucrative (since this is specialized work, and not all custom printing suppliers have a padding machine). To the buyer, this means the sticky note pads will be relatively inexpensive.


    1. The paper has to be long grain and uncoated, but it can be of various weights (usually about 80 to 90 gsm, which is about 60# uncoated stock), including a thicker backing sheet on card stock (up to 250 gsm, which is just over 90# cover stock). The backing sheet can also be printed. In this case, when you run out of sticky notes, you have a note on the thicker base paper telling you where to order more.


    1. The flat press sheets travel through the machine, which coats them with a thin layer of glue using a gravure roller system, and then flash dries the glue with infra-red lamps.


    1. When the guillotine cutter separates the printed and glued press sheets into smaller, individual pads, the pressure of the guillotine clamp tightens the grip of the padding glue.


    1. Since you can produce the press sheets on digital equipment, you can print and collate them to personalize or even sequentially number the resulting pages in each sticky note pad. You can even collate different colored press sheets into the pads.


    1. The process lends itself to either small or large runs, and either static or variable data commercial printing.


    1. The make-ready is minimal (almost nonexistent), and the first sheet is usable. Wash-up is quick and easy, and the equipment can be operated with minimal training.


    1. New jobs can be loaded while the SAP machine is already operating, so the process avoids downtime.


    1. The pads can even be die-cut into irregular shapes (the SAP website mentions heart-shaped sticky notes) off-line after the gluing process.


  1. The padding glue is a water-based, eco-friendly adhesive.

What This Means to the Designer, Marketer, and Print Buyer

While promotional in nature, the SAP website from which I learned all about this process does have some serious, positive implications for marketing, both from the standpoint of the designer and copywriter, and from the business viewpoint of the commercial printing vendor.

First of all, anything that gets a client’s name out there in front of multiple viewers is a good marketing tool, particularly if it is simple and inexpensive. In fact, sometimes the simplest marketing vehicles are the most effective (think of postcard print runs, for instance). Sticky notes just work, because the user sees them repeatedly and then usually hands them off to one or more colleagues (on the top of a stack of papers).

Secondly, from the vantage point of the custom printing supplier, buying this kind of padding equipment could be a good business decision in that it’s useful to clients, not everyone provides this service economically in both long and short runs, the equipment costs relatively little, and the machine takes up very little room on the pressroom floor. To me that looks like a “win-win” for everyone.

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