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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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Blog Articles for PrintIndustry.com

Custom Printing: The Importance of Adequate Lead Time

August 16th, 2020

Posted in PrintBuying, Scheduling | 2 Comments »


Purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

“The luxury of time.” Who has it anymore? Everything is a rush. Under the assumption that mistakes occur when you rush through something, if you buy commercial printing for a living, it’s vital to consider all facets of the job you’re producing and leave adequate lead time for each component.

In some cases your delivery date is flexible. Great. That’s a relief. But in other cases, for example a marketing initiative, if your job finishes just in time to get into the mail stream late, such that your prospective buyers (let’s say attendees at a conference) get the self-mailers just after the conference ends, you’ve failed. You’ve done two things, actually. You have missed the chance to sell the conference to so many thousands of prospects, and you’ve wasted money on copywriting, design, production, custom printing, finishing, mailshop work, and postage.

The Article

In this light, I just read a blog article on IronmarkUSA.com, the website of a local printer. The article, “Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect,” was written by Samantha Philipson and published on July 20, 2020. It not only addresses the need to plan ahead and start early when you’re shepherding a commercial printing job through the manufacturing process, but it also provides some general time frames to get you started.

My best advice to you is to consider these times, most of which will vary based on options you choose (some printing and finishing activities take longer than others), but equally important, I would encourage you to discuss your personal print production needs with your commercial printing supplier. (If you have several, pick the one you trust the most.) Do this early in the process.

Trust me. I spent almost a decade as an art director/production manager, and nothing makes you lose sleep like getting behind on a print project. Talking with your custom printing vendor early also takes into consideration his schedule. Maybe his plant is busier than usual, and a job that took a week last year might take longer this year. Chances are, if you discuss your project early, he can put you in the schedule now, with a turn-around time even faster than you might expect. After all, he doesn’t like surprises any more than you do.

General Time Frames

“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect” addresses the following aspects of a print project:

“Design/Copywriting Services” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

The article suggests a month for copywriting and design. I would add to that commensurately if the job is longer (perhaps a print book). When I was an art director, the writers/editors took several months to write our nonprofit educational foundation’s government textbooks. Then the designers took a month to a month and a half to design the book and produce press-ready art files. (This included all of the various rounds of proof corrections.) Then the printer took six weeks to print, bind, and ship 60,000 perfect-bound print books.

Smaller jobs fit nicely into the time frame Ironmark printing suggests. I would just encourage you to separate the various elements: copywriting, design (and I would actually separate out final art file preparation, since it involves extra steps that go beyond the design component of the job), prepress, printing, finishing, delivery, mailing, etc.

Also, the best thing you can do is (once you have created a schedule) discuss the schedule with the designers, writers, and editors. Then amend it as needed based on their feedback.

“Paper Size” and “Print Quantity” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

Samantha Philipson’s article doesn’t specify time for all print jobs in this section, but it does note that the size of the press sheet and the number of press signatures (let’s say one 16-page signature per press run, depending on the size of the page and how many pages will fit on a press sheet), will determine the amount of time the job is on press. (For smaller jobs, like a mailer, speed is all about how many copies of the mailer can fit on a single—hopefully large—press sheet.)

Going back to the textbook I used to produce (as mentioned earlier), this (approximately) 352-page, 6” x 9” perfect-bound book comprised eleven 32-page signatures. That’s eleven press runs plus the cover even before any binding work could commence. In contrast, Samantha Phillipson’s article mentions the printer’s producing 5,000 postcards in two days or 10,000 in three. So, you see, more complex jobs take much longer to produce. Again, this is the best reason of all to discuss your job with your custom printing provider early.

“Stickers or Labels” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

According to Philipson’s article, these add a day to the schedule. I would also add that other items that require a printer to order and receive supplies not normally kept in stock (such as a specific paper you want to use) will also add time. So ask your printer about this. In some cases, by using materials he already has on the pressroom floor, you can save not only money but also time.

“Number of Pieces per Item” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

Philipson’s article suggests that you consider the number of items in a promotional mailing. If you insert an invitation into your envelope along with a reply card and reply envelope, plus an informational card, the “inserting” step of the mailing will take longer. In most cases, inserting can be automated; however, if there are unusual size or placement needs, this might become hand work, which not only costs more but also takes longer. If your press run is long, this could cause an unforeseen delay.

“Is a Die Required?” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

If your job has a unique shape (anything other than a rectangle), your printer will need to have a metal cutting die made. (Let’s say the cover of your perfect-bound print book has a cut-out rectangle on the front cover through which you can see the first page. This would require a die.) Philipson’s article notes that such die making would add a week to the schedule. I’ve found this pretty consistent among all the printers I’ve worked with. In part, the delay is due to die-making’s being subcontracted work. Again, it adds to both the cost and the overall time. Philipson notes that the extra week does not include the printing or finishing steps of the job.

“Digital or Offset Printing”
(“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

Philipson’s article notes that three to five days would be reasonable for a one- or two-color offset printed job, whereas five to seven days would be reasonable for a digitally printed job.

I’d encourage you to ask your printer. The offset vs. digital turn-around times will depend entirely on the specific digital and offset printing equipment he has, as well as his schedule at the time. Some printers are set up to produce digital work faster than offset; for some it’s the other way around. That said, in my experience three to five days for a small job (simple with a short press run) and seven to ten days for a larger one (more complex but not a print book) would be a good place to start negotiations with your printer. Keep in mind that these are business days, not calendar days.

“Number of Folds” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

More complex folds take longer on the folder (part of this is making sure they are accurate, since the first bad fold makes the following folds even worse). Some complex mailers require multiple passes through the folder, and this also adds time.

“Finishing Options” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”):

Philipson’s article notes that you should add one or two days for such finishing work as varnishing. To this I would add that complex varnishing techniques (like using both a spot gloss and spot dull varnish to make certain portions of a brochure cover stand out) also take extra time.

I’d also discuss binding methods with your printer. If you’re producing a textbook (as I did), perfect binding takes much longer than saddle stitching. In part, this is because a lot of printers don’t have perfect binding equipment in house and therefore have to subcontract the work.

Proofing

Philipson notes that her printer can turn around digital proofs in approximately eight hours, but a hard-copy proof will take an extra day. In some cases a digital proof (on-screen PDF proof, which requires no shipping time or expense) is not enough. You need to see the actual color of the job. But if you do need a hard-copy proof, you need to set aside extra time for the proof to be delivered, checked, and returned to the printer. (However, if there’s a second round of proofs, I usually encourage clients to request a PDF proof for the corrections.)

Finally, “Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect” ends with wise words: “Build in extra time for any delays” (“Print Turnaround Times and What to Expect”). These can include delays on your end. (What if the main person who has to see the proof is on vacation when it arrives?) Or it can occur on the printer’s end. (What if the press is down or there are delivery problems?)

The two best things you can do? Pad the schedule, and communicate early and often with your commercial printing vendor.

Posted in PrintBuying, Scheduling | 2 Comments »

Glossy Or Matte: What Should I Know About Each Type Of Coated Paper

August 10th, 2020

Posted in Business Cards | Comments Off on Glossy Or Matte: What Should I Know About Each Type Of Coated Paper

When creating print media for your business, you often have the option to choose from three different types of paper. Most commonly you will want regular stock paper, but for publications that are made to impress audiences, you can also choose one of two types of coated paper; either matte paper or glossy paper.

Both matte and glossy paper are appealing in their own ways and are used for business cards, brochures, postcards, catalogs, calendars, stationary, and more. If you are gravitating towards using a coated paper for your materials but aren’t sure which one to pick, here are the key differences you would notice when printing with each from online printing websites.

Color

Both types of coated paper handle colors and pictures differently, and when it comes to using coated paper in general, the colors will be slightly different from the digital images that you are looking to use. This is important to keep in mind.

If displaying vibrant colors is what you are after, it would be wise to choose glossy. The sheen of glossy paper makes colors more saturated than actual, which is ideal if you are looking to draw attention with your graphics. Glossy paper is also great for images and graphics that are of high quality, as it is capable of displaying visuals with sharpness and clarity.

Matte on the other hand can work in subtle ways, as it’s smooth nature can highlight minor details better than glossy paper can, such as textures, accents, and more. Matte paper is ideal for photos and other graphics where lots of detail is required. Believe it or not, but it is matte paper that absorbs more ink than glossy paper does.

Text

When considering coated paper for print media, the use of text should not be overlooked. Words, sentences, and paragraphs all need to be easy-to-read, and the coating of your paper can actually play a part in the legibility of text.

If you want the short answer of which generally makes text more legible, the answer is matte. Matte paper has little to no sheen to it, so there will be no glare for those that want to read a publication in a lit room or in daylight. Matte coating also is not as easy to smudge as glossy coating, so you can also choose matte paper if you want text to remain clear and readable in that regard.

There is one scenario in which companies might choose glossy paper if they have readable copy, and that is if their text is light and their background is dark in color. This would actually make their text more clear and brighter compared to matte paper.

Manufacturing And Costs

Both coated paper types are made from the same chemical coating. The difference lies in how much coating is on each type of paper. Matte paper will have enough coating to make a paper look smooth, but not enough to be reflective. Glossy paper will have a thicker coating that makes it shine, but it can definitely cause smudges, fingerprints, and oil-based stains.

As mentioned before, matte paper will use more ink over glossy paper, so printing costs will generally be higher for materials that use matte paper. Typically, though, if businesses choose a paper based on low costs, they will choose an uncoated paper.

Summary

Alternatives to regular paper for printing include glossy and matte paper. They both handle ink differently and contain different properties to make them either shiny or smooth. We do not consider one coated paper to be generally better than the other.

Posted in Business Cards | Comments Off on Glossy Or Matte: What Should I Know About Each Type Of Coated Paper

Commercial Printing: Four Print Jobs, One New Client

August 9th, 2020

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Commercial Printing: Four Print Jobs, One New Client

I recently had the opportunity to provide pricing for four new custom printing jobs for a prospective client. It’s a writers’ organization that provides educational and promotional services. This group was open to my interest as a commercial printing broker since I have produced perfect bound print books for one of theipackager members for almost ten years now.

My Prospective Client’s Printed Products

This particular client has an interesting mix of products:

  1. A twice-yearly catalog. Currently it is 8.5” x 11”, saddle stitched, 40 pages, with a press run of 11,000 copies.
  2. A twice-yearly perfect-bound book of poetry, in 8.5” x 11” format, with a length of 140 pages and a press run of 1,000 copies.
  3. A once-yearly, 80-page, perfect-bound book with a format of 5.8” x 8.3” and a 150-copy press run.
  4. A twice-yearly promotional letter with a #10 envelope, a #9 envelope, and a business reply card (BRC). The press run is 3,000 copies with a match mailing.

The first thing my prospective client asked was whether I could suggest a single printer that could do all of these jobs. I said I thought that would be unlikely (or at least somewhat limiting) for the following reasons:

  1. When I looked closely at the sample catalog, I saw that it had been printed on what looked like a newspaper stock (rough and a bit dingy; that is, the whiteness and brightness of the stock, along with the coarseness of the halftone screens and occasional press roller marks, suggested that it had been printed on a dedicated newspaper press, not a conventional offset press. Most printers that own a newspaper press focus exclusively on groundwood products like newspapers and catalogs.
  2. The book of poetry was easy. Almost any printer could produce this print book, although based on the press run I assumed it would be printed most economically via offset lithography.
  3. The 80-page book would need to be produced via digital custom printing, since it had a press run of only 150 copies. To use offset printing for such a short run would make the unit cost prohibitive.
  4. The promotional letter required a lettershop. A lettershop focuses (often primarily) on producing large volume mailings (3,000 is small) along with inserting services, addressing via inkjet, processing the mail, and entering sorted and metered promotional pieces into the mail stream.

Under the circumstances, my client understood that I could find a better match for the jobs if I found the proper printer for each job (with the best equipment and pricing) rather than looking for a one-stop shop.

How I Approached the Bidding Process

As with anything else in life, the best approach is to break down a complex job into successive logical steps. So that is what I did.

  1. I identified at least two printers I trusted to do each of the four kinds of work. In some cases I chose three, but I also was on a bit of a schedule, so I wanted to get at least something back to my prospective client relatively quickly. I knew I could do more shopping if I could keep my client’s interest (i.e., provide good initial bids and quality samples).
  2. I composed a list of specifications for each job, everything from the finished size and press run to the paper specs and use of color, binding, etc. I sent these to my client for her approval and additions or changes.
  3. I composed a spreadsheet noting the overall price (including shipping) and unit cost for each vendor’s job estimate. I did this so I would have one spreadsheet with which I could determine both a cost comparison and also a comparison of the specifications. (Different printers provided not only different pricing but also slightly different specs on the jobs, and I wanted a way to see exactly how the costs—and what they were based on—compared. That way I could determine what additional information I would need from each vendor.)
  4. I sent an RFQ (request for quotation) to each printer and waited for their response.

What I Received from the Printers

The first thing I found was that one of the newspaper printers I had chosen “no bid” the job. It didn’t fit their schedule or equipment. It is possible that the size of the catalog was a problem (8.5” x 11”), since the other printer offered 8” x 10.75”, full color throughout, saddle stitched, as an alternative.

I knew which newspaper press my client was currently using (she had told me), and I also knew that local newspaper printers were few. Therefore, I chose to accept this printer’s specifications and pricing for my vendor pricing grid.

Depending on my client’s reaction to the price and the format, I knew I could always expand my search. After all, an especially attractive price might induce my client to change the format slightly.

One of the other printers (whom I had worked with for almost twenty years) didn’t respond to my initial RFQ or my follow-up email, so I assumed they were not interested (too much work or other issues). It was unfortunate, since this printer could have produced the offset work (the 1,000-copy poetry book), the promotional letter and mailing, and the digital perfect-bound print book.

A third printer offered especially attractive pricing on the promotional mailing and the digitally printed book, but unfortunately they were high on the offset printed poetry book.

A fourth printer was expensive overall.

A fifth printer that focused exclusively on print books was the low bid for the offset-printed book of poetry. Fortunately they were not just lower but almost half the price of the next lowest bid. My guess was that they did not have to subcontract anything (they had all necessary equipment in house), and since they are in the Midwest, they may also have a lower pricing structure based on their local economy.

Then I updated the spreadsheet.

Next Steps

It is a truism that almost every bid from every printer includes a mistake, an omission from the RFQ, or a substitution, so I went through all bids again and again. Then I went through them again, comparing everything to the original specification sheets my client had approved. Each time I found something else, and so I made a list of questions for each vendor. Some of these had to do with paper substitutions (not a problem as long as the paper specs–such as the brightness, whiteness, opacity, caliper, etc.–matched my requested paper). Other issues had to do with missing specs (including the cost of inserting all elements of the promotional campaign in envelopes, for instance, but not including the cost of address inkjetting).

I sent email lists of questions to each vendor, and again I waited.

Then I incorporated the adjusted specs and/or adjusted pricing into my master spreadsheet, so I could still compare each vendor’s price (overall cost plus unit cost) to the other vendors’ prices. When all was said and done, and when I had checked everything twice more, I wrote to my client. I presented the pricing spreadsheet and a list of specifications the winning bidder had sent me for each job (so my client would see any changes in specs the printer had made before bidding). I also listed the changes I had found plus my reactions to everything (random thoughts, views about each printer’s strengths, response to any changes printers had made to the specs, etc.).

If my client shows interest in the pricing, I plan to have the printers send out printed samples for her to review.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

This is a complex process. That said, it may be a process you yourself must engage in during your work day. Consider the following:

  1. Not all printers will bid on the same specs. Look for changes in size, paper specs, color, cover coating, etc.. Look for any omissions, such as omitted physical proofs or missing shipping costs. Make sure you have composed a detailed, complete specification sheet (review it multiple times) before approaching the printers for the initial bids. Then compare the spec sheet to all estimates multiple times. Remember that your printers will probably provide their own version of your specs in their bids. Also, each printer will list the specs in a slightly different way (different wording as well as—in some cases—specs slightly different from the ones you had submitted for the bid).
  2. Quality is better than quantity. Only get bids from printers you trust completely.
  3. Realize that for specialty work—such as newspapers—your printer may very well change the specs. He may have a newspaper press that prints only certain trim sizes (for tabloid or broadsheet work). So keep an open mind. He may also be able to position full color on only certain pages of a newspaper as well. You may need to sacrifice color and page format for price, or you may choose to pay more (at another vendor) for more options.
  4. Remember that price is only a starting point. It is very important that you like the printed samples and that you feel comfortable interacting (via email and phone) with the printer. After all, you need to know that the final printed product will meet your needs.
  5. If possible, with a new printer, start with a small job and then build up to larger, more complex jobs once you and the vendor trust each other and have a good working relationship.

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Commercial Printing: Four Print Jobs, One New Client

Infographic: 8 Different Types of Color Printing For Businesses

August 7th, 2020

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Infographic: 8 Different Types of Color Printing For Businesses

color printing

Have you ever come across an eye-catching banner outside a shop? What attracts your attention is not just the content, but the impact of color also. There are various options of color printing services that you can opt for. Banners are some of the most common types of promotional items used by businesses. Billboards can create a significant impact when created with perfection. Ensure that you opt for the right material to create a long-lasting impression. Book covers speak a lot about what they are about, about the authors and how people perceive them. Want to make brochures an identity of your brand? Ensure that they are printed using the finest quality of material. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Infographic: 8 Different Types of Color Printing For Businesses

Business Card Color Tips for First-Time Businesses

August 7th, 2020

Posted in Business Cards, Printing | Comments Off on Business Card Color Tips for First-Time Businesses

Business Card

Designing business cards for your company can be fun, but it also involves making many important decisions. While some business owners don’t find the appearance of business cards a priority, it is actually more important than many might think. Not only is what information on the card is vital, but also the colors.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Business Cards, Printing | Comments Off on Business Card Color Tips for First-Time Businesses

Online Flyer Printing as a Way to Market Your Business

August 7th, 2020

Posted in Flyer Printing | Comments Off on Online Flyer Printing as a Way to Market Your Business

Flyer-Printing

Looking for small documents to market your business? It might be a good idea to consider online flyer printing at a reasonable cost for your company. This is just a one or two page document prepared on colorful paper to make your business attractive for customers. Companies understand that for such flyers to make business sense, they need to be priced at affordable rates, which is why they are prepared to offer you printing services from around the globe. Read the rest of this entry »

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Custom Printing: Bacardi’s Direct Digital Bottle Printing

July 27th, 2020

Posted in Digital Printing, Packaging | Comments Off on Custom Printing: Bacardi’s Direct Digital Bottle Printing


reproduction rights purchased from … www.depositphotos.com

When BACARDI does something, people pay attention. As a contemporary brand, BACARDI is stylish and sexy–on the cusp of the future.

So I paid heed when I read an article recently about BACARDI’s new bottle printing work done by O-I: EXPRESSIONS on Dekron digital equipment (“BACARDI Personalizes Bottles with Direct Digital Print,” Pat Reynolds, 07/02/2020). The article defines direct digital custom printing, addresses the benefits of this technology from a marketing design and sustainability vantage point, and then goes on to mention the improved marketing results of linking this technology to digital-only media such as the internet and AR (Augmented Reality).

What the Article Says

(Reynolds’ article is actually quite short. However, it includes links to other articles describing cutting-edge, direct-to-shape (related to direct-to-object) custom printing not only on bottles but also on cosmetics tubes and cans. So this is a quickly growing phenomenon with a number of exciting facets. I think you might find such articles inspiring if you are a designer or printer.)

First off, “BACARDI Personalizes Bottles with Direct Digital Print” describes BACARDI’s marketing initiative, mentions the technology used, and then lists the benefits of the process.

For this marketing campaign, BACARDI chose not to print paper or plastic labels or even shrink sleeves. Instead, BACARDI’s creative team at O-I: EXPRESSIONS used Dekron digital custom printing technology to image the marketing message directly on the bottle using organic, food-safe inks.

From a design/marketing point of view, this approach made for striking BACARDI packaging.

It also expanded the space for branding imagery far beyond the usual limits. For example, in the case of paper labels, the space available for commercial printing is small: some variant of a rectangle or other geometric form on the front and maybe the back of the beverage bottle. The key word is “small.”

In the case of shrink sleeves (while larger than a label), there are still size limitations. Can it be printed and then wrapped around and over the neck of the bottle and also the bottle cap, extending the marketing imagery over the entire surface of the bottle? Will the shrink sleeve, even in its much larger than label-size format, still have too limited a texture? Will it have just an overall gloss or matte surface with no localized, textured effects?

Well, BACARDI’s Caribbean experience initiative addresses all of these concerns/limitations and then goes much further. According to “BACARDI Personalizes Bottles with Direct Digital Print,” the beverage maker was able to produce limited-edition personalized bottles with “a much improved look and feel to the packaging [that] is a more sustainable alternative” (as per Simone Kockelmann, Customer Marketing Manager, BACARDI Europe, as quoted in “BACARDI Personalizes Bottles with Direct Digital Print”). This enhanced effect includes a spot tactile treatment of both the BACARDI bat logo and some palm leaves and tropical flowers printed on the bottle. Using the Dekron direct digital printing equipment, O-I: EXPRESSIONS was also able to print an entire 360 degree, full-color image on each bottle.

The overall effect? An enhanced “Wow” factor.

But the benefits of the direct-to-object commercial printing didn’t stop here. The imaging technology was paired with the internet, Snapchat lenses, and Augmented Reality. As the article notes, these cutting-edge technologies were able to “transport the user to the homeland of BACARDI, the shores of the Caribbean” (“BACARDI Personalizes Bottles with Direct Digital Print”). According to Reynolds’ article, a Snapcode on the bottle unlocks the Snapchat lens, and Augmented Reality creates an immersive experience for the customer.

The Key Benefits of This Technology

So from a marketing point of view, here are some key benefits:

  1. This was a limited roll-out. So a relatively small—and precisely targeted—group of people experienced this promotion. Presumably a loyal group of BACARDI afficionados. In addition, the marketing initiative was prepared specifically for them, using marketing research to make the experience relevant to their needs and preferences.
  2. The marketing initiative extended the BACARDI brand across multiple media: print (the labeling) and digital (both the internet and Augmented Reality). It also involved multiple senses, reinforcing the brand message in the minds of participants.
  3. The experience was immersive—sort of like watching a movie and forgetting you’re just in a theater watching a film—but going even further due to the three-dimensional nature of Augmented Reality. Again, the more senses a marketer engages, the stronger the branding message. Just as the more media the marketer employs (such as signage, radio spots, product packaging), the more memorable the customer experience of the brand message will be.
  4. Sustainability. Increasingly, people are becoming aware of the need to change their behavior to maintain the livability of the planet. Labels leave a residue on bottles that can contaminate the recycling stream. Direct-to-object commercial printing leaves an empty, clean, and ready to recycle container (no labels, no residue). In addition, the inks are food-safe. Even the shrink sleeve noted above would introduce extra plastic sheeting into the environment. Direct-to-shape digital commercial printing will not. Moreover, from a manufacturing and storage point of view, not printing on either labels or shrink sleeves reduces materials’ costs as well as materials’ storage and inventory costs. No labels to buy and store. No shrink sleeves to buy and store. More profit.

The Takeaway

Digital commercial printing, in general, is ideal for marketing work. You can print short runs economically and efficiently. (Limited editions sell; it’s the “exclusivity effect.”) You can create a customized marketing initiative based on increasingly precise marketing research, and you can effect this “differentiation” quickly, making changes on the fly as needed. You can also personalize the experience to make the brand immediately relevant to the target audience (and even specific individuals you have identified as prospective clients).

This is even before you get to the mixed media effects BACARDI exploited in their marketing initiative.

Deep inside there is a child in every adult. That’s why people are so attracted to new, immersive experiences such as Augmented Reality, Snapchat lenses, and such. Your marketing work will be more effective (“relevant,” as they say) if you can tap into this quality of human nature. And using the new direct-to-object or direct-to-shape technology, you can even do this in a sustainable way, lessening your environmental footprint.

If you’re a printer (offset or especially digital), or if you’re a graphic designer, it behooves you to read up on this technology. (Research “direct-to-shape,” “direct-to-object,” “direct-digital.” There are multiple terms describing this technology.) Even if you’re not designing for packaging (shrink sleeves, labels), websites, Augmented Reality, or any or all of these—this is the future. It will serve you well to become conversant in this developing technology.

I think BACARDI has the right idea.

Posted in Digital Printing, Packaging | Comments Off on Custom Printing: Bacardi’s Direct Digital Bottle Printing

8 Ways Print Marketing Works for Creating Brand Buzzwords

July 21st, 2020

Posted in Advertising | Comments Off on 8 Ways Print Marketing Works for Creating Brand Buzzwords

printed material

Recognition is essential for the long-term success of a brand. If you are not focusing on print marketing, then you might be missing a lot on your marketing efforts. Print marketing materials help to develop a sense of legitimacy and authenticity. They represent your business physically. People trust printed materials. They represent the benefits offered by your brand. These materials help people to create a trustworthy image in the minds of the target audience. By using eye-catching designs, colors, images and fonts, you can assure your target audience that your brand is here to stay. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Advertising | Comments Off on 8 Ways Print Marketing Works for Creating Brand Buzzwords

Commercial Printing: K&B Rapida 106 X–Offset Printing Is Still Alive

July 20th, 2020

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Commercial Printing: K&B Rapida 106 X–Offset Printing Is Still Alive


from https://www.koenig-bauer.com/en/products/sheetfed/sheetfed-offset/medium-format/rapida-106/

I’m always pleased when I see, in an increasingly digital world, that offset commercial printing is still relevant. Interestingly enough, this is because OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are paying attention to their customers’ needs for speed, economy, and quality.

I read a Koenig & Bauer press release this week about the new Rapida 106 X. This is a “high-performance sheetfed offset pres for the medium format 740 x 1060 mm.” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Translated into inches, this is a 29” x 41.73” press, large enough for efficient printing. (Longer multi-page press signatures mean fewer press runs, and larger press sheets allow for more large-format jobs, like flat pocket portfolios before their being folded and glued.)

But it’s not just the press-sheet size that makes the Rapida 106 X special. Here are the benefits that K&B notes in its press release.

Benefits of the K&B Rapida 106 X

“Shorter makeready times—faster into print” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Offset lithography has to compete with digital commercial printing to earn its share of customers. One way to do this is to minimize one of the major drawbacks of offset lithography: the long makeready process. K&B has achieved this goal on the Rapida 106 X. This press can perform “simultaneous plate changes in less than a minute with unbent and process-free plates” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). This means that the Rapida can perform parallel, autonomous makeready processes, not only within a job but between jobs, doing the plate changes without operator intervention. All the pressman has to do is monitor the process via the digital interface. If he tried to make these plate changes by hand, it would actually take much longer.

What This Means

The K&B press release uses a 350-sheet job to illustrate the point. Normally, a job this short would go on a digital press (toner-based or inkjet). But what if you need the slightly higher quality of offset lithography? Or maybe you need precise PMS colors instead of 4CP process match colors. You could still do the job efficiently on the Rapida 106 X, even factoring in multiple plate changes (removing the old plates and loading the new ones automatically during the press run).

“Higher speed—even faster in production”
(K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). One of the main benefits of offset lithography is that it’s fast. Once you put the time in up front to set up the process, the 18,000 to 20,000 sheets-per-hour commercial printing speed will outpace even the fastest of the larger-format digital laser or inkjet presses. In this case, the Rapida 106 X will not only print up to 20,000 29” x 41.73” sheets per hour, but it will do this in perfecting mode (printing both sides of the press sheet simultaneously, which usually slows down overall throughput).

What This Means

When you’re perfecting a print job, you don’t have to bring the pile of finished press sheets (printed on one side) around to the front of the press (once the ink has had time to dry) and send all of the sheets back through the press to print the other side of all press sheets (called “backing up” the sheets).

In addition, the digital interface (such as K&B’s Job Optimizer) links all processes (prepress and press functions) based on “technological or press-related considerations” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). The press electronically chooses the best workflow (order of jobs based on press form size, sheet size and format, paper weight and surface coating, etc.). According to K&B, this can shorten make-ready times by an additional 30 to 50 percent. Moreover, by closely and instantly tracking all operations, managers can precisely measure the exact cost of all processes.

“Reliable processes—stable in production” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Quality is everything. Speed by itself isn’t good enough. Using cameras (either one for straight-line printing or two for perfecting) on press, the K&B Rapida 106 X can accurately control color, instantaneously and continuously monitor the press sheets, and compare the press sheets with prepress PDF files (via QualiTronic PDFCheck or QualiTronic PDF HighRes). The Rapida 106 X uses QualiTronic ColorControl to read ink densities on every sheet (as opposed to every 10 sheets, or whatever other number had been chosen, as was the case when I was doing press inspections in the 1990s). The software can check the color bars on each sheet and make adjustments every ten sheets. When getting the press “up to color” (i.e., getting the color densities exactly right), the press scans and registers the good sheets and then compares all subsequent sheets to this target. It can scan the sheets at either 100dpi or 290dpi (using additional cameras), so any variance between the press-ready PDFs and the press output can be corrected immediately.

What This Means

When the flaws show up immediately, and the corrections are made automatically, the whole process goes much faster. The K&B Rapida 106 X comes up to color much faster than prior presses, and the number of waste sheets used in the process drops to between 25 and 50 sheets. (And on a completely different note, this process monitoring can be done remotely on a mobile device using the Rapida LiveApps ErgoTronicApp.)

“Less maintenance—more time in production” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Since all performance data is logged in real time, the Rapida 106 X makes maintenance and repair much easier. More specifically, before a repair is scheduled, the log can be accessed remotely (along with photos, videos, and audio files), and many problems can be resolved from a distance.

What This Means

All of this means less downtime. When the press is running, the printer makes more money, and the clients get their jobs on time. Moreover, using artificial intelligence along with camera footage from the press, operators and maintenance engineers can analyze trends and identify faults in the operation in real time, while keeping the presses running.

Why It’s Good That We Still Have Offset Custom Printing

Ultimately, time equals money. If you’re producing a short-run, simple job, you’re going to choose digital commercial printing. This will involve either laser or inkjet technology. The quality level is now extremely high, particularly when compared to what it was when I was an art director in the 1990s.

That said, if you’re producing a long-run print job, then an offset press that can print up to 20,000 sheets per hour (with, perhaps, a 16-page press signature of a book being imaged on each press sheet) is a blessing. The job flies through the press. And the more you print, the less each copy costs. It can’t be beat.

You can also print on a much greater variety of press sheets with a greater variety of press finishes.

Or maybe you want to print a metallic ink. Or maybe you have specific corporate colors that you need to match with PMS inks. Offset lithogaphy is your best choice in both cases.

Finally, as good as digital printing has gotten, in my own humble opinion, the detail and color accuracy of offset lithography just can’t be beat.

So all of the artificial intelligence, camera-monitoring, trend analysis, and automated workflow and plate management additions K&B has introduced to the Rapida 106 X have leveled the playing field, allowing you to choose either offset or digital technology for even a short press run.

Posted in Printing | Comments Off on Commercial Printing: K&B Rapida 106 X–Offset Printing Is Still Alive

Business Card Printing: Paper Color and Texture Choices

July 12th, 2020

Posted in Business Cards | Comments Off on Business Card Printing: Paper Color and Texture Choices

I’ve been revising a client’s logo and corporate identity package over the last several weeks. Each time I send her PDF proofs of concepts and potential uses for her new logo, I take some time to walk away from the process and take a break, so I can come back with fresh eyes and new ideas.

To put this in context, let me describe the project. First of all, I created a logo using a screen printed image of my client’s face, with her head leaning on her hand and her hair vignetted to disappear around the edges of the logo image. My client wanted the logo to have a bit of a sophisticated, film noir feel. The rectangular screen print image rests above my client’s name (first, middle, last), which is set in a classic sans serif face, centered over the name of her company in a modern sans serif face. A thin rule line separates the two lines of type.

The most recent version of the prototype business card uses a vertical orientation with her logo above her contact information. On her initial letterhead proof, I positioned the logo at the bottom right of the page, with the screen printed image to the left of the logotype instead of above it.

As noted, the overall goal (that is, the tone my client wants to project for her business) is to capture an air of high-born glamour.

The Next Step

When I sent my client these two pieces of her corporate identity system, I also asked her to consider how she wanted to use color in her work. So while she gives thought to that question, I have started answering it for myself as well. These are my first few thoughts on the process.

First of all, I suggested that she consider an uncoated, cream paper stock.

Most of the time (in my experience), paper is bright white (often called solar white or blue-white). A blue-white press sheet does not draw attention to itself, but it does reflect light back to the viewer very well and faithfully (without changing the color of the inks or toners). This is usually desirable.

However, in some cases you do want to draw attention to the paper, and in my client’s case, since her image has an antique feel to it, I thought a cream stock (also known as a yellow-white or natural white) might be ideal. In fact, I thought it might give the vignetted image (with its feathered edges) the feel of a brown sepia tone print.

Another benefit of the uncoated cream stock, particularly when you consider the simplicity of the card, is that it would add color to the business card without adding color to the type or image. Presumably the screen print image of my client (the logomark) plus the logotype and my client’s contact information would be printed in black ink, and the only additional color would be the cream background.

Another option would be to print the logo and contact information in a dark brown to continue the sepia toned image approach. (That is, everything would have a brown tint.) My only concern would be whether this would require the use of excessive laser toner for the brown color build (a problem that could be avoided with offset printing by creating a PMS color rather than a 4-color build).

Finally, I suggested that my client consider any textures and/or perhaps speckles in the paper she chose. Particularly for a business card, thinking in terms of tactile impressions is wise, since the hand receives the card (and absorbs its feel and surface texture) long before the eyes are aware of its text and images.

In my client’s case, a textured, uncoated stock would resonate with the older, glamorous image of the business, predating the Internet and other digital communication. The cream color of the paper, plus its rough texture, would make reading the card a more personal experience than reviewing the information on a gloss-coated, bright-white paper. And any speckles in a cream business card stock would draw further attention to the card’s being a physical product.

Thoughts and Potential Concerns

Let’s say you were trying to achieve a similar effect in your own commercial printing design work. Here are some things to keep in mind to ensure your success:

    1. Uncoated paper absorbs ink. It’s important to make sure you provide an image (text, logo, etc.) that has defined highlights and shadows. In my own case, I changed the tone curve of my client’s vignetted portrait image in Photoshop. I opened up the shadows slightly, and I also made sure there would be bright whites in the image. I knew that any potential overinking would make the image look muddy and flat. And the uncoated press sheet would be less forgiving than a bright-white coated sheet.

 

    1. In my own case, I liked the simplicity of the design. Not adding a separate color (like a red or brown color build) to highlight my client’s name or logo image would make all art and text hang together (i.e., all black ink or toner), creating a sense of unity. In your own work, make sure your design and paper choices reflect the marketing goal of the business card (i.e., what you’re saying about the company’s image and values). Make sure the client’s brand, the visual design treatment of the card, the color and texture of the paper, and the reproduction technology you have chosen (digital or offset) support one another.

 

    1. Keep in mind that offset printing more often than not provides a superior product (compared to digital toner printing). Show your business card art to your commercial printing sales rep and ask for her/his advice. If she/he thinks the images will plug up using digital laser printing, ask about offset lithography (which will usually cost more). When in doubt, request samples. Custom printing issues of this sort are usually more evident in halftones than in line art or type.

 

    1. If possible, get samples of the paper you have chosen, and print out your mock-ups directly on the printing stock. Although you can simulate color printing on a computer screen, I have really found no better way to simulate the look of custom printing on a colored paper (even just a cream stock) than printing on the paper itself. If your artwork will be printed in black, you can make a prototype easily on a laser printer. If you want to add color as well (let’s say you have some type in red and you want to print on an uncoated cream stock), you’ll have to use an inkjet printer.

 

  1. Remember that the paper substrate changes the perceived ink color. If you’re printing black ink on cream stock, that usually will not present a problem. But if you’re printing any other color (let’s say skin tones on a cream stock), this could make for unappealing color shifts. This is another good reason to produce digital color proofs on the actual custom printing stock.

Posted in Business Cards | Comments Off on Business Card Printing: Paper Color and Texture Choices

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