TagDigital Printing

3 Things to Know Before You Specify Paper (+ a shortcut)

Paper can comprise from 30% to 60% of the cost of a print job, so specifying the right paper is extremely important. The paper selected plays a major role in the final appearance, and success, of a project. In order to correctly specify paper, you need to know the language of paper grades and weights. Grades such as bond and writing are just as important today as they were 20 years ago. Although the demand for some grades lessens, such as tag, it is still important to know all the grades. Understanding the important distinctions between the various grades of paper will help you design more effective items for your customers. I’ve simplified the process by outlining three things you need to know about specifying paper.

1. How Paper is Made

In order to talk about grades, it is helpful to know how paper is made. Trees grown for paper are a renewable crop, like wheat that is grown for breakfast cereal. Furthermore, paper is 100% recyclable, compostable, and biodegradable. Paper starts with pulp. Pulp can come from different sources, such as trees, fibers like hemp or cotton, or recycled paper. There are different processes for making pulp. Some are mechanical, some chemical, and each has its strengths. Pulp can be bleached, brightened, or colored or have additives mixed in to enhance the surface characteristics of the paper. Additives to the pulp may increase opacity or increase ink holdout (helps the ink not soak in so the image stays sharp), depending on the use of the paper and desired characteristics. After everything has been mixed in, the pulp has a liquid, mushy texture. It is then poured onto a wire mesh (the wire) where it settles and spreads before going on a conveyor belt in a long thin ribbon where it is squeezed between rollers to remove all the water still in the paper. Once the water is removed, the pulp goes between big drying drums to dry it out completely. After drying, the paper is calendered, a process that smooths the surface of the paper by pressing it between cylinders or rollers. You can think of calendering like a pasta machine that gradually presses the surface of the paper to make it smooth. Super-calendered paper goes through an extra calendering process to make it exceptionally smooth.

After all these steps, the paper is wound onto giant rolls. Coating is an extra step that lays a coating on the paper that can whiten, brighten, and smooth out the surface. Coated paper is a direct response to the demand for color printing because it provides superior color reproduction, detail, and consistency. Coating can be one-sided, C1s, (pronounced Cee One Ess), or two-sided, C2s. Cast Coat is a super shiny coating made by polishing coated paper. Coated papers can be gloss, matte, velvet, dull, or somewhere in between. There are more terms now than ever before, and none reflects an absolute. Gloss is glossy, and dull is dull with matte and velvet falling somewhere in between.

Embossing is a process that presses a pattern into the paper. Common patterns are linen and stipple. When a paper texture is produced by embossing, it enhances ink holdout. That means the ink doesn’t absorb into the paper as much and looks crisper.

This photo shows different colors of linen paper. Note the distinct fabric-like texture.
Because of its embossed surface, linen papers have superior ink holdout.

This is stipple finish with a blind emboss and a register emboss to the green ink in the upper left-hand corner. Note that the stipple finish is not “ironed out” by the embossing.
This is because the stipple texture is already embossed into the paper when it is made. 

Watermarks are created during paper manufacturing. Watermarks are visible when held up to the light. Although they often are a symbol of the paper manufacturer, they can also be a company’s logo. Custom watermarks used to be enormously expensive. Nowadays, reasonably priced custom watermarks can be made with a chemical technique. Some consider this a “fake” watermark, but it really achieves the same look as a “real” watermark.

A Neenah Paper watermark in a writing weight paper.

Other factors that affect texture occur in the manufacturing process rather than the finishing process. For example, laid paper (paper with a ribbed texture) achieves its distinctive pattern, particularly apparent when held up to the light, by the pattern on the wire on which the pulp is placed. All papers have a wire side and a felt side resulting in two distinct sides that are not exactly the same. Some papers are made on a two-wire machine that mitigates, but does not entirely eliminate, this effect. Adjustments are needed on press to allow for the two different sides of the paper. For this reason, it can be very challenging to print a large solid color on both sides of a sheet of paper and get the colors to match if the paper is uncoated and not a two-wire made sheet.

The characteristic ribbed finish of laid paper. Laid paper has long
been a traditional finish available in many writing suites. 

This image shows blind embossing of a laid paper. As you can see, the heat
and pressure of the embossing die can “iron out” the laid texture of the paper.
Laid texture is not embossed into the paper such as linen.
Laid texture is an impression of the wire on which the paper is made. 

2. Paper Grain

When paper is made, the fibers line up in one direction, which is the grain. If you think of a piece of wood, which is easier to split with the grain, or parallel to the grain, the same is true of paper. When paper is folded with the grain, the fold is smoother. When paper is folded against the grain, depending on the type of paper and type of fold, the fold can appear torn, cracked, and uneven. Grain affects the appearance and is an important part of the printing process. Paper stretches as it goes through a press. In order to minimize that stretch, printers want the paper grain to be parallel to the rollers of the press. When working on a project that includes folds that are 90 degrees to one another, one fold will be with the grain, and the other will be against the grain. A road map, for example, has folds going with and against the grain.

Paper folded without a score to dramatize the difference when folded 
with the grain (top sheet) and against the grain (bottom sheet).

3. Paper Grades

Now that you know how paper is made, we are ready to talk about paper grades. I am going to give you my version of paper grade classifications because there are very slight deviations from the old school classifications that correspond with how printers order paper. Learning about paper grades this way will make it easier for you to converse with your printer.

Bond & Writing
Bond/writing is very receptive to ink and pencil. For that reason, it is used for stationery and letterheads. Rag bond is made from cotton and is more durable. This makes it ideal for items that are going to be around a long time such as diplomas or folded and refolded and refolded, such as letters. Bond is often watermarked. Writing refers to the lightweight sheets of a suite of matching papers, including text and cover weight papers, and bond refers to the same type of paper but does not have any matching text or cover weights. For example, Neenah Paper, a paper company, offers Atlas Bond, which is not available in text or cover. Neenah also offers Classic Crest Writing, which is available in text and cover weights. A few bond papers are available with a matching cover weight, but in general, if the paper has matching text and cover weights, it is referred to as writing.

Text & Cover
This grade is for fine uncoated papers. Sometimes they have a matching writing grade. This grade is never coated and includes linens, felts, and all those lovely colored papers.

The characteristic finish of felt paper. Felt paper has long been a traditional finish available in text and cover.

Coated
Coated papers are available in gloss, ultra gloss, dull, matte, etc. Coated papers offer high-resolution reproduction in offset printing. Although they are graded by their brightness, most coated papers exceed their grade range in brightness. This is so that a Number Two can have the brightness of a Number One. The grades, in descending order of quality, are as follows: Premium, Number One, Number Two, Number Three, Number Four and Number Five. The grade directly relates to the cost, so a Premium sheet costs more than a Number One which costs more than a Number Two and so forth. Sometimes a paper rep will tell you that a paper is a Number One priced as a Number Two. In my experience, this is when a characteristic such as opacity or snap has been lessened for a gain in brightness. Generally, you get what you pay for in paper. Most Premium coated papers are acid-free/archival and will not yellow as much as a non-acid-free paper. Coated paper that is text weight used to be referred to as book; now it is called text.

Board
Within coated paper are the C1s, C2s, and cast-coated subgrades referred to as board grade. These papers are often used in packaging and come in a wider variety of thicknesses for that purpose. Board grades also include C1s papers that are more foldable, are bulkier, or have other characteristics specific to packaging. Cast coated papers also fall under the board category.

Uncoated
This category encompasses text and cover weight papers, sometimes matching, that are not in the “fine papers” text and cover category. It includes offset, opaque, postcard or reply card, and newsprint categories. Recent additions to this category are matching cover weights to the opaques. This category is the heart of everyday office and publication papers.

Offset
The paper used for items like instruction booklets and direct mail notices is Offset paper. It runs well on press and is inexpensive. Offset is not available in cover weight.

Opaque
Opaques refer to papers with less show-through. They generally have a better quality finish than offset. Both offsets and opaques are normally available in a wide variety of weights for various bulk requirements and are commonly used for books and textbooks. Typical finishes are smooth and vellum. These papers are available in white and sometimes cream and ivory. The standard office colors of goldenrod, blue, green, canary, cherry, etc., are available in opaques and offset. Postcard or reply card is an inexpensive white paper that calipers to 7pt. thickness, which is the minimum mailable thickness for a postcard sent through the U.S. Postal Service. Newsprint is an inexpensive paper that is only available in three text weights and generally one color, newsprint. Newsprint color varies from one manufacturer to another.

Bristol, Tag, & Board
This category is a catchall for all the sturdy, but not necessarily pretty, papers. Index is perfect for writing on with a pen and is often used for cards that need to be filled out because in addition to being cover weight, it is also a very stiff paper. Library cards, for those who remember them, were probably made of index paper. Index is generally available in smooth, vellum, and the standard “office colors.” Bristol is a little softer than index or tag and folds better than both. It is available in cover weights in “office colors.” Tag is strong and very receptive to ink. It is available in white and manila in various cover weights. Board includes chipboard which is typically the bottom piece of paper on a scratch pad. It can be chip colored, (a grayish, brownish color that varies with each lot due to the characteristics of the recycled material that goes into it) on both sides or coated one side,C1S, and comes in a multitude of weights.

Specialty
This category includes all the oddballs, such as translucent, metallic, and synthetic papers. Synthetic papers are like plastic, do not tear, and are very water resistant. Other specialty papers with surfaces that look like leather or feel like suede are also in this group. Although rarely used now, onionskin, a very thin and strong paper, is in this category. So is Bible paper, which is very thin, strong, and opaque.

Carbonless
Carbonless paper used to have its own category but, with desktop printers and digital document delivery, the use of carbonless paper has dropped tremendously. Suffice it to say that carbonless comes in multiple “parts,” such as two part, three-part, four-part, etc., and those parts can come in different colors in whatever order you need. The standard sequence for three part is white-canary-pink, for example, but if you wanted a form to be white-green-goldenrod, your printer can do that too.

Pressure Sensitive & Gummed
This group is enormous with more specialties than you can possibly imagine. Because of the nature of pressure sensitive paper, depending on what the end user is going to do with it, your printer has a zillion options from which to choose, such as printable liner, scoreless liner, diagonal liner, vertical liner, and horizontal liner. Then there’s permanent or removable adhesive. The “face” of the label can be coated, uncoated, writing, fabric, synthetic, you name it. In fact, any paper can be converted into a label. Labels have displaced most of the items that used to be marked with tags made with tag paper and gummed papers that needed to be wet to activate the gum. Old-fashioned postage stamps are an example of gummed paper.

Swatches of paper with flecks or fibers. From top to bottom: French Paper, Speckletone, color: Kraft;
Neenah Paper, Royal Sundance Fiber, color:
 Thyme; Neenah Paper, Royal Sundance Fiber, color:  Cottonwood;
Neenah
 Paper, Astrobright, color: Stardust White.

Digital
This is a relatively new group of papers that are used in various digital devices. Digital printing methods vary widely, and each substrate (the base material onto which images will be printed) needs to be tested as to its receptivity to the ink/toner/wet toner, etc., and also to the wear and tear the paper can inflict on the digital printing device. Large-format digital machines require special papers that are approved and profiled for each digital device. They are available coated or uncoated, roll, or sheet-fed, and as text or cover. They are mostly white except for “copy paper,” which comes in the “office colors.” These papers are certified to run on various presses. That does not mean you cannot specify a non-certified sheet, but you may be disappointed in either the reproduction quality or your printer saying “no” because of the wear and tear it causes to the digital press. Find more information about digital printing here.

Envelopes
Although envelopes are not really a “grade,” I am including them here because they are made from specific papers. Every writing paper has a matching #10 envelope. That is part of what makes it a writing-grade paper. Basic commercial envelopes are 24# white wove. Wove is smooth. Larger envelopes are 28# because the paper needs to be stronger to hold more weight. A 10 in. x 13 in. catalog envelope is an example. With the exception of the writing envelopes in the #10 size, nearly all envelopes are white or manila in regularly stocked sizes. Design a pink 10 x 13 envelope and prepare your client for some sticker shock, read more about designing custom envelopes here. For more information about designing for standard 0ff-the-shelf envelopes go here.

Paper Finishes
The paper finish refers to the appearance and texture of the surface of the paper. The following chart summarizes which finishes can be found in each grade.

 

Speccing Paper Shortcuts

Here are some well known paper specs that might be new to you. If you are new to designing, knowing what these basic papers are called might help you out.

Letterhead – 24# Writing
Envelopes – 24# Writing
Business Card Old school – 80# Cover
Business Card New school – 110# Cover
Business Card Annoyingly thick – 130# Cover
Brochure Trifold, stiff – 80# Cover
Brochure Trifold, floppy – 100# Book
Catalog Thicker Cover and thinner pages – 100# Coated Cover and 100# Gloss book pages
Catalog Cover and pages the same – 100# Gloss book self-Cover
Packaging – 10pt C1S
Paperback Book – (perfect bound) Cover 10pt c1s pages 50# Offset

I hope this helps demistify the specifying process. If you have a question I haven’t answered, please comment below, I would love to hear what you are interested in and I bet other readers would too!

 

Identity Systems

What to know before designing and printing them. Get the sample chapter now.

We respect your privacy.

SaveSave

SaveSave

Share

It’s Not Easy Being Green

It’s not easy being green. If you’re thinking about making your next print project environmentally friendly, make sure you know about recycled paper and “green” printing.

You have undoubtedly heard impassioned pleas by environmentalists extolling causes that are good for the earth and posterity. There has been news about the evils of printing and paper and all the damage they do to trees. Frankly, a lot of what is being said is hogwash.

Fortunately or unfortunately, greenwashing (a superficial or insincere concern for the environment) is a trend, and trends catch on even when they are not based on truth.

We are finally beginning to hear about the carbon footprint of reading a book on an iPad or storing a file on a server. Sending an e-mail takes energy, and the bigger the file, more energy is used. Do you really need to copy the attachment on the whole thread and every response? Do you need to attach all those logos to your e-mail signature? The calculation of carbon footprint is very complex.

For example, when the National Geographic Society conducted a lifecycle analysis of its magazine, it determined it made more sense to print the magazine on paper made from virgin pulp. That way, the society could make sure the pulp came from forests that were certified for environmentally responsible management. It could add responsibly managed pulp to the recycling stream. If you buy inexpensive virgin or recycled paper, manufactured in Southeast Asia, you have no idea what the content of that sheet is, or how responsibly that pulp was sourced and the paper manufactured. The National Geographic Society determined China was creating so much demand for recycled pulp, that creating more demand was no longer an incentive to choosing recycled paper.

Responsibly produced pulp was, in fact, a better way to help.

Greenwashing/Recycled
The components of environmental responsibility include the materials, the process, and the design. This is how organizations measure their practices. Printing on 100% Post Consumer Waste paper that will need to be replaced often because it can’t stand up to heavy use is not a sustainable choice. The best businesses have always had sustainable practices because they make good sense. Nobody wants to waste resources, renewable or not. Nobody wants to waste money.

Environmental Choices for Your Client & You
It is important for you the designer to know what choices are available to you and your client. In most cases, your client is going to look to you to make recommendations in line with their values. Here are some choices that you may consider:

  • Choose recycled content when it suits the project.
  • Choose paper certification that aligns with your values.
  • Choose American paper for projects printed in the U.S.
  • Only print what you need.
  • Choose environmentally responsible vendors, from printing to warehousing.
  • Be aware of how you say you are “green.” The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has issued guidelines that apply to environmental marketing claims, such as “recyclable.” For ftc current guidelines, visit www.ftc.gov/green.
  • Educate yourself about the different types of communication, both print and electronic, and choose the most effective combination while taking the environment into consideration.

Here are questions I get all the time from designers and clients alike:

Is recycled paper more expensive?
It depends. Kraft paper is recycled, brown, and inexpensive. Recycled paper that is whitish with flecks is more expensive than kraft, but less costly than a bright white recycled paper with no flecks. To make recycled paper, the mills need to buy or make pulp from paper that has been de-inked, and that pulp costs more than pulp from a tree. That cost is passed to the customer who can then weigh the value versus the cost.

Does recycling paper save trees?
When used paper is substituted for virgin pulp, it reduces demand. Recycling helps to reduce the amount of land that needs to be used for tree farms and may preserve native forests. However, a tree in a native forest is not the same as a tree on a tree farm. A natural forest differs from a tree farm in biodiversity and habitat. In ecologically sensitive areas where pressure to convert natural forests to tree farms exists, recycling can help decrease the demand that causes that type of pressure.

Does the paper industry plant more trees than it cuts down?
Yes, but increasing tree farm acreage at the expense of natural forest is not equal in terms of biodiversity, habitat, etc.

Is recycled paper more environmentally friendly?
A few factors that need to be weighed in order to gauge the environmental footprint of recycled versus virgin paper: is the paper mill state-of-the-art or turn-of-the-20th-century? That makes a big difference. Is the mill in a country that does not allow pollution downstream? China’s paper factories pollute more than American factories. Does the mill reuse effluents such as liquor and sludge, byproducts of the paper-making process, or does it dump these byproducts in a landfill? How fuel efficient is the plant sorting the recycled paper? Are its trucks low emission? Are its conveyor belt motors gas-, diesel-, or solar-powered? How close is the recycling plant to the paper mill? Will the trucks collecting all the recycled paper in the city have to drive a long way to the edge of the tree farm where most paper mills are located? Is an old growth tree going to be cut down to make the paper? This should be avoided at all costs, and several groups have emerged to certify that the source of the paper is legitimate.

How was the recycled paper de-inked (bleached) before being made into pulp?
Some bleaching methods are terrible for the environment and super expensive to boot. Traditionally, elemental chlorine was used in bleaching, but because of its negative environmental impact, most bleaching processes are now Elemental Chlorine Free (ECF). Is the recycled paper appropriate for the project?

For instance, specifying a job with 100% solid ink coverage on a 100% PCW paper stock might backfire in terms of environmental responsibility because recycled papers use up to three times the ink of a virgin sheet when solid coverage is required. What kind of paper is it? A cardboard carton? The page of a magazine? A paper grocery bag? All those objects require much less energy to recycle into that form than a sheet of fine writing paper or the page of a coffee table photography book. Most wood pulp fibers can be recycled about eight times before they lose the structure needed to be a strong sheet of paper and wind up in the sludge at a paper mill.

Virgin paper is important for introducing strong fibers into the paper-making stream and complementing the mix of recycled pulp. It is also important for that coffee table book you want to pass down to your children. Let’s assume the paper comes from a state-of-the-art U.S. mill and was chosen by a very environmentally conscious recycler in a city where all the paper is sorted close to the mill. If all of these conditions are met, then the resulting recycled paper is more environmentally friendly.

Recycling is great so let’s all do our part! Buying recycled paper and specifying recycled paper creates demand. Just don’t specify recycled when you really need virgin, and remember, we need to add virgin paper to the recycling stream.

The two most common names heard in printing are the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Sustained Forestry Initiative (SFI). If you, the designer, or print buyer specify an FSC-certified sheet, then the printer must purchase from an FSC-certified paper merchant and print on that sheet. If printers are caught substituting other paper, the FSC can revoke their certification.

Print Misinformation, What You Need to Know About Printed Media and the Environment
Misinformation about the environment and printed media is abundant. “Save a tree—don’t print!”; “Print is bad for the environment!”; or “Print is killing the forests!” We’ve all heard statements such as these. The truth is print is recyclable, renewable, and responsible. Let’s examine the facts.

Print and Recycling
87% of all Americans have access to curbside or drop-off recycling programs. Of all printed materials in the U.S., 63% are recycled, and this number keeps growing as recycling becomes more popular. Print is renewable and sustainable Trees are a renewable resource; we are not going to use up all the trees for paper. Most of the trees used in paper are grown on “tree farms” as a crop, just like corn or wheat.

Print is Responsible
Only 11% of the world’s forests are used for paper. “Waste products,” such as wood chips, sawmill scraps, and recycled paper, provide the bulk of the fiber for making paper.

More Factoids
Print isn’t going away. It’s not a matter of turning on your iPad instead of reading a magazine. Both the magazine and the iPad are going to be around. Considering these facts, listed below, about the effectiveness of print, you can be environmentally responsible while making print.

  • Seventy-three percent of consumers prefer to receive mail for new product announcements or offers from companies they do business with compared to 18% who would rather receive e-mail (International Communications research survey).
  • A catalog lead costs $47.61 while e-mail comes in at $53.85 per lead, and, furthermore, the response rate to direct mail has consistently been three times higher than the response rate from e-mails (Direct Marketing Association 2011 Statistical Fact Book).
  • Nearly 90% of consumers say they want to receive sales and promotions via direct mail and find offers in the newspaper (Nielsen Research). Consumers in the 18–34 year-old demographic prefer to learn about marketing offers via postal mail and newspapers rather than through online sources such as media sites (Finding the Right Channel Combination: What Drives Channel Choices, icom, a division of Epsilon Marketing).
  • Seventy percent of Americans enjoy reading printed magazines even though they know they could find most of the same information online (State of the Media Democracy, Deloitte Research, March 2011).
  • Seventy-five percent of college students prefer a printed textbook when taking a class, and 53% of college students would not consider buying digital textbooks even if they were available (Student Watch 2010, National Association of College Stores).

You can tell pretty easily if your printer is green. She is up to your standards if she operates like you do. For instance, do you recycle paper, metal, and plastic at home or at your job? So should your printer. When it is time to get rid of old electronics, do you take them to a designated recycling place? So should your printer. Do you work in a leed-certified building? Your printer doesn’t either, I bet. Responsible choices are easy to make. Confirm your printer and all your vendors are doing their part.

Certifications
Environmental certifications are a way to display the environmental practices a company follows. Some of these certifications refer to a Chain-of-Custody (coc). You can look at the websites of each of these organizations to get more information. It’s easy to take people’s word that they are “the best” or “the leading” or “the largest.” What’s more important is deciding whether what they do is in line with your clients’— and your — values. Bear in mind that in some of the more obscure certifications, the foxes are watching the hen house, so to speak.

chain_of_custody

Chain-of-Custody Certifications
Forest Stewardship Council (fsc) (printer must be certified) “The Forest Stewardship Council mission is to promote environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests.” There are several types of FSC logos, one if 100% of the product comes from FSC sources, one for 100% recycled paper that contains at least 95% fiber that is Pcw (Post-Consumer Waste), and various Mixed Source logos. (Mixed Source is when a product contains one or more of the following: FSC-certified fiber, recycled fiber, or controlled wood fiber.)

You must use the logo of the printer who will print the piece to maintain chain-of-custody, and the logo must be printed in 378 green or black. The printer’s FSC number is visible on the logo. Positive, negative, black, white, portrait, and landscape versions of each logo are available. The FSC label cannot be used with another label. Your client must choose which system he is following. www.fscus.org

Sustainable Forestry Initiative® (SFI®) “SFI Inc. is a fully independent, charitable organization dedicated to promoting sustainable forest management.” Your printer must be certified to the SFI standard to use an SFI label. SFI has two main types of product labels: SFI Chain of Custody (includes certified forest content) and the SFI Certified Sourcing.

Sustainable Green Printing Partnership “The mission of the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership is to encourage and promote participation in the worldwide movement to reduce environmental impact and increase social responsibility of the graphic communications industry through certification and continuous improvement of sustainability and best practices within manufacturing operations.”

This organization is relatively new and has a limited number of members. www.sgppartnership.org

I hope this information makes you more confident about advising your clients about environmentally friendly choices. If you’ve got a story about recycled paper or certifications and logo usage, please share it with us!

Confused about digital printing?

For a limited time to can get the actual decision tree in my book, for free! The ultimate tool for figuring out if a project can be digitally printed or if it needs to go on press. PLUS you'll get a heads up when the Kickstarter campaign launches.

We respect your privacy.

SaveSave

Share

Why Designers Need to Keep Up with Technology

Unfortunately, I missed DRUPA this year, so I have been furiously consuming tons of trade journals articles highlighting the most exciting news.

You might have never heard of DRUPA. It is the world’s largest trade show for printing and allied industries. It is held every four years in Dusseldorf, Germany coinciding with the Olympics and the soccer World Cup finals, which makes for some fun parties when Germany is in the finals! The convention center is ginormous. Imagine the largest convention center you have ever been in and multiply it by 10! Seriously! This year it was in 15 buildings and occupied thousands of square meters.

13418956_10209347622632838_3284441909971277194_n

Although a show like DRUPA focuses on printing and bindery equipment, it also showcases workflow software, finishing methods, and new technologies. The big news this year was finishing capabilities on digital printing equipment. This is pretty big news.

A little bit of the background on this news: The best printing presses maintain very precise registration from sheet to sheet. That is part of why presses are made out of iron and steel and weigh hundreds of tons. Offline finishing processes like die cutting and foil stamping have the same precise tolerances as the best printing presses. Digital presses have not had the same sheet to sheet registration capabilities of sheetfed or web printing.

Because of this, offline finishing processes like spot coatings, foil, embossing etc. that rely on critical sheet to sheet registration have been nearly impossible on digitally printed sheets. (There are other issues with the dry ink or toner and adhesion of coatings but that is a separate post)

Digital press manufacturers have been tackling this problem with near-line finishing solutions. Near-line solutions are machines that need to be loaded with the material from the digital press. You can get some spot coatings with some digital presses but they still have less-than-perfect registration.

Sheet-to-sheet registration from the top manufacturers, like XEROX, CANON, and HP is getting closer and closer to sheetfed tolerances, but these are the top-of-the-line machines which cost $1,000,000 and up.

Why does this matter to designers? Because this year at DRUPA manufacturers and finishers showed finishing solutions such as clear spot coatings, cold foil, and other spot treatments, being applied INLINE. This is something that digital presses have really not been able to deliver. But it looks like, as of 2016 we have some technologies that are here and viable!

13391477_10209383735415635_4079372630480315499_oThat’s exciting because the digital advantages of quantities of ONE can have some of the shiny and sparkly stuff that up until now was not possible.

It doesn’t mean you can start designing for digital as if it were the same as offset or flexo, but it does mean that if your printer knocks on your door, you know the questions to ask about their digital printing capabilities. And once you are clear on what your printer can offer, you can start offering that to your customers in your designs.

Digital printing is unique in that the advantages available to a mega-corp Fortune 50 company are now also available to your corner coffee shop.

All it takes is having a conversation with your printer about your vision and delivering results for your customers! Woot! woot!

Drupa---globale-Leitmesse-der-Druckindustrie-158823-detailpDRUPA by the numbers

11 days May 31 – June 10, 2016

1837 exhibitors from 54 countries

19 exhibition halls 169000+ square meters

3D printing, functional printing, package printing, flexo, publication, commercial, industrial, digital, bindery, finishing, data streaming,

260,00 visitors from 188 countries

1900 journalists from 74 countries (that explains all those articles!)

Side events to the exhibit halls focused on technical innovations, 3D fabrication and printing, digital printing innovations, and binding. Manufacturing streamlining for printers means faster turnaround for print customers.

11165317_10206547749197752_4017302318723244062_n

 

Andreas Weber with an over the shoulder peek at the Epson booth

Photos courtesy of Andreas Weber, my dear friend, and colleague, a genius and  Editor-in-Chief at valuetrendradar.com 

Here’s Andreas giving a quick twitter report from DRUPA: https://twitter.com/zeitenwende007/status/740847163811463168  

Confused about digital printing?

For a limited time to can get the actual decision tree in my book, for free! The ultimate tool for figuring out if a project can be digitally printed or if it needs to go on press. PLUS you'll get a heads up when the Kickstarter campaign launches.

We respect your privacy.

SaveSave

Share