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Who We Are

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.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

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Custom Printing: Textured Paper Options, and a Nod to the PIE Blog

Photo purchased from …

This week we are sharing two short blog articles, one about textured paper options and the other about the induction of the Printing Industry Exchange weekly blog into Feedspot’s Top 40 Digital Printing Blogs.

Paper Choices

When I’m designing something new, my knee-jerk impulse is to print it on gloss or dull coated paper. So I pause for a moment and really think about the purpose of the item. For instance:

  1. Is the job a print book? Does it include black and white or color photos?
  2. Is the job an annual report, and do I want to project a corporate image or a softer, more approachable image?
  3. Am I designing a stationery package, including a business card, letterhead, envelope, and such?

All of these will lead to specific, and different, paper choices.

For instance:

  1. For print books with lots of photos, black and white or color, the images “pop” when they’re printed on gloss stock. That said, if the book is text-heavy, gloss stock can be tiring on the eyes. It’s easier to read text on uncoated paper or dull- (or matte-) coated stock.
  2. In the case of an annual report or other print collateral for an organization, uncoated paper feels softer, and the ink colors printed on the stock (solids and photos) are more muted. This, combined with the softer feel of the paper, can give a more intimate and personal feel to the publication. This might be appropriate for an environmental organization that wants less of a “corporate” look and more of an approachable, environmental-steward tone.
  3. For business stationery, letterhead, business cards, and various kinds of envelopes, you will probably want an uncoated stock. Moreover, to provide a unified look and feel, you might want to select paper from a coordinated stationery-package paper swatch book with different weights of complementary custom printing stock. Or, for the business cards, you might opt for a coated paper (if you’re designing business cards for a tech-oriented company or a financial company, for instance).
  4. You may also want an uncoated sheet for a special invitation, say to a black-tie dinner. In this case, in addition to uncoated paper, you may want a textured sheet and/or a colored paper stock, perhaps even a dark tone like a deep green or black with white text.

In short, the paper should reflect the purpose of the printed item and the tone or ethos of the company brand. Therefore, it is important to choose a stock carefully, and the best way to do this is with samples.

Your commercial printing supplier or paper merchant can send you swatch books (unprinted, but with a variety of selected papers) and printed samples (produced for the printer’s other clients), and these will make your decisions easier. The swatch books will give you a sense of the colors and textures from which to choose, and the printed samples will show you how solid ink colors, type, and photos will look on the selected paper stock.

Options for Paper Texture

Printing is a tactile experience. Your fingers can help you select paper for special projects. If the choice is an uncoated stock, here are some options:

  1. Laid: There are both horizontal and vertical lines in the paper, which are added with metal rollers during the papermaking process. This is a good choice for stately letterhead and printed presentations because it simulates classic, hand-made paper.
  2. Linen and felt: Both of these options simulate the texture and pattern of the cloth after which they are named. As with laid paper, linen and felt patterns are pressed into the paper during the papermaking process. Linen has more of a cross-hatched look with similar-width horizontal and vertical lines (like woven fabric), and felt-finish paper has more of the look and feel of felt cloth.
  3. Column: This pattern comprises, as the name implies, a series of vertical, ribbed columns on the surface of the press sheet.
  4. Vellum: Unlike laid, linen, and felt, vellum is very smooth. It has a slightly puckered texture like the surface of an eggshell.
  5. Wove: Wove is the smoothest uncoated option of all, although its surface is also described as being similar to an eggshell, albeit a bit smoother than vellum.

In all cases, there is no better way to grasp the differences in paper surface (both visually and in terms of the feel of the paper) than to request samples from your printer or paper merchant. Some of the textures are more prominent, while others are less prominent. In all of these cases, the texture lends a sense of understated elegance to letterhead and other elements of a stationery package or to an invitation or program for a special event.

Things to Consider

In my view, color is one of the major considerations, in two senses:

  1. If you choose a dark colored, textured sheet, it will be striking, but since commercial printing ink is usually somewhat transparent, you may need to add a second pass of a color to make the ink/typescript dark enough, evenly applied, and readable. Granted, for an invitation, you can foil stamp the text on the sheet, but this will require the additional cost of a metal foil-stamping die (which also takes time to make) as well as the cost of the foil-stamping procedure.
  2. If you choose a white uncoated press sheet, it will absorb the ink. (In contrast, ink sits up on the surface of a coated sheet, whether dull or gloss.) Therefore, the ink printed on an uncoated commercial printing sheet (type, solid colors, or halftones) will look softer, darker, and less intense than the same ink will look on a coated press sheet. While the printer can compensate somewhat for this fact, large areas of solid ink may appear blotchy (when compared to the same ink treatment on a coated sheet). It’s smart to discuss this with your printer and request samples first.

That said, in my opinion, printing color on uncoated paper can provide subtle, nuanced images that are soft and elegant. It just takes a skilled custom printing vendor to do this.

Printing Industry Exchange Blog Included in Feedspot Top 40 List

The CEO of The Printing Industry Exchange just received notification that the PIE Blog has been featured (as #12) in the Feedspot Top 40 Digital Printing Blogs. If you want to learn more, check out this link:

This is a description of Feedspot’ s vetting process, in their own words:

“The best Digital Printing blogs from thousands of blogs on the web and ranked by traffic, social media followers, and freshness.

“Feedspot discovers, categorizes, and ranks blogs, podcasts, and influencers in several niche categories. We have curated over 250,000 popular blogs and categorized them in more than 5,000 niche categories and industries. With millions of blogs on the web, finding influential, authoritative, and trustworthy bloggers in a niche industry is a hard problem to address. Our experience leads us to believe that a thoughtful combination of both algorithmic and human editing offers the best means of curation.

“There are several ways we discover new feeds.

  1. Publishers submit their blogs, podcasts, or YouTube channels on Feedspot using the “Submit” form at the top of this page.
  2. We have a research team who does extensive research on Google and social media platforms to discover new influencers.
  3. Feedspot has in-house media monitoring tools for discovering bloggers in several niche categories.

“Our expert editorial team reviews each blog before adding [it] to a relevant category list.

Ranking is based on:

  1. Relevancy
  2. Industry blogs (those not favoring a specific brand) are given higher rank than blogs by individual brands (who often tend to promote their own products).
  3. Blog post frequency (freshness)
  4. Social media follower counts and engagements
  5. Domain authority
  6. Age of a blog
  7. Alexa Web Traffic Rank and many other parameters.”

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