This week's post contains the full text of a presentation I made this week to the Society for Image Science and Technology at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
Offset printers and photographic labs have experienced significant shifts in the demand for their services over the last decade. There has been a general erosion in the perceived value of a basic printed image and a greater emphasis on finishing operations. Photographic labs have morphed into photo book printers and offset printers are becoming marketing service providers.
These transitions have been highly stressful for many companies and have led to significant consolidation within both fields. At the same time, there have been significant growth opportunities for companies that recognized the trends early and adjusted their production methods accordingly.
|Image via Pinhole Press|
|Direct mail sent by Convertible Solutions|
Much of the growth in direct mail is in the digital variable data printing segment where personalized URLs, personalized QR codes and personalized landing pages are used in cross platform campaigns. This allows the marketer to maximize the strengths of each medium.
|Image from Komori|
With digital printing, it's a different situation. Most jobs are short run, sometimes as small as one copy. Any time spent configuring a finishing operation pushes the cost of the job into an unacceptable range. Any setup waste on a variable data print job results in prospects that do not receive their personalized item.
Pre-converted substrates offer a simple solution to this dilemma. These stocks have adhesives, scores and perforations already in the correct locations on the paper. After the stock is printed, finishing is usually a simple matter of folding, pressing and shipping. These simple processes strongly influenced the selection of Fold'n Go as the trademark name for Convertible Solution's brand of pre-converted substrates.
Most pre-conversion steps fall into one of two categories: adhesives or mechanical conversions. Adhesives include cohesives, pressure sensitive adhesives with liners, and remoist glues. Mechanical conversions include scores, perforations and die cuts.
The most important adhesives used in most pre-converted stocks are pressure sensitive cohesives. Pressure sensitive cohesives are chemically formulated to bond with pressure only to another surface coated with the same cohesive. The cohesives used in pre-converted printing stocks are firm and limited in tackiness so they can pass through the printing equipment and folding equipment easily, but form a powerful seal when they contact another cohesive surface.
|Cohesive pattern for Panoramic books.|
For a self mailing envelope, the cohesives are positioned to seal the edges of the envelope. The envelope runs through the press flat and is subsequently folded and trimmed. The folding brings the cohesives into contact with each other to form the envelope. The clamp on the trimmer provides the pressure required to seal the edges of the envelope.
|Double Thick Impact Cards|
|Pressure sensitive end sheet for book binding|
A third type of adhesive often used on envelopes is a remoist glue. A remoist glue is often used on the flap of a returnable envelope so the recipient can seal the envelope with moisture. Care should be taken to select remoist glues that will not be impacted by the heat from the fusing step on the digital press.
|Magnified Image of a Score from Technifold USA|
|TriCreaser for Scoring by Technifold USA|
Generally, scoring and folding done parallel to the grain of the paper presents less resistance, will lay flatter and creates smoother lines. In book binding applications, scoring and folding parallel to the grain also prevents and swelling of the paper from exerting stress on the binding.
|Die used for perforating by Convertible Solutions|
In addition to tear-off envelopes, perforations are often used for tear-out coupons, tear-off redemption cards and tear-away security seals on transactional documents. Recently, we have seen postcard mailing campaigns with a perforated portal holding a personalized quick response code.
The final mechanical pre-conversion that this paper will address is die-cutting which is used to create a continuous cut or opening in a mailer. A common die-cut application is a pair of opposing slits to allow a business card to be attached to a presentation folder.
Generally, die-cuts must be approached with great caution in pre-converted applications to avoid causing transport problems in the digital press. Most applications where die-cutting would be used in a typical post press finishing operation would be handled with a perforation in a pre-converted approach.
|This school portrait flier from Inter-State Studio uses pre-converted paper from Convertible Solutions|
The flier runs through the digital press flat to allow personalized content to be printed on each side. After printing, the piece is folded and trimmed with the pressure from the trimmng clamp sealing the cohesives.
The direct mail and publishing industries will continue to evolve with even shorter print runs and higher levels of personalization. Pre-converted substrates can help digital printers respond to these trends and serve their customers better.
The Creativity Paradox is sponsored in part by Convertible Solutions which is a leading supplier of pre-converted printing stocks for digital printers.