Evaluate a printer

Not satisfied with your current printer? Let us help you know what to look for in choosing a new print vendor. While we're not a print shop ourselves, use this guide below (or our PDF) to help outline your requirements and preferences. 

For definitions of printing terminology, see the Glossary below.

 

 

Print order specifications

The quantity of items in your print orders largely determines what printing press machinery should be used to get the most competitive pricing.

 

Lucidpress designs in CMYK and not PMS, so your printer needs to use a CMYK color profile. Some printers may also offer "high fidelity" color which will expand the CMYK color gamut to 6 or 8 colors.

 

How many different types of materials will your frequently print? Some print vendors support a wide variety of print products, while others prefer to print high volumes of a few specific items.

 

It is important to know what type of printing your print vendor specializes in—or where they typically make their money. You want them to not only be capable of printing your orders, but also be pros at printing your types of orders so they're not struggling to work with a request they're unfamiliar with.

 

The gang-run printing method is commonly used to distribute the pre-press setup cost between multiple print jobs by printing a number of copies of a large page with multiple different print jobs next to each other on the same page.

This method dramatically reduces cost but doesn't guarantee highest quality.

Is it suitable for you? Does your print job require any of the following:
- Critical CMYK color matching
- Colors outside of the CMYK color gamut
- Foiling or embossing
- Special ink, like fluorescent or metallic
- Lamination
- Custom print size (anything other than a business card, postcard, pocket folder, catalog, poster, envelope, letterhead, etc.)
- Non-standard paper (anything other than book weight 80#, 100#, coated and uncoated; and cover 80#, 100# 10, 12, or 14 pt.)

 

Most print vendors are capable of basic folding types, such as bi-folds, tri-folds, and accordion folds. Heavy weight papers, such as cover weight, card stock, and cardboard, need to be scored before folding to prevent the paper from cracking. This is a more advanced feature that not all printers offer.

 

Some printers have binding machinery in-house, others outsource to another location for binding, and others don't offer binding at all.

There are many types of binding: saddle stitch, loop stitch, side stitch, and more. Make sure your printer is capable of fulfilling your binding needs.

 

Most print vendors offer basic UV/gloss coating, but not all printers offer a wide variety of coating and finishing options.

 

Every printer agrees to different levels of guaranteed service and quality. Of course, the higher levels of service they provide, the more you'll pay for it.

 

 

 

Glossary

Accordion fold: alternating folds to create multiple panels of a similar size

Aqueous coating: a clear, water-based coating that can provide a gloss or matte surface and is less likely to crack when folded that UV coating

Bleeds: the margin of error between the margin of your document and the edge of your printed product; protects against frustrating, unpredictable white borders

CMYK: "cyan, magenta, yellow, key (black);" a subtractive color model used for printing

Digital printing: a printing process that prints directly onto a substrate from a digital file which is sent directly to an inkjet, laserjet or other type of digital printer; cost-effective for low-volume (<1,000) print jobs

Embossing/debossing: pressing a pattern, text, or image into the paper to create a three dimensional design

Flexography: a printing process that uses flexible rubber plates to allow printing on a variety of surfaces, including cardboard, plastic, metallic film, and cellophane

Foiling: a premium printing method that stamps a metallic foil die onto your product

Gang-run: a process where printers combine multiple jobs to print on the same sheet; this process helps to significantly reduce prices by dividing the set-up/production costs across several jobs; generally used with sheet-fed printing presses and CMYK process color jobs

Gravure: highest quality printing method and most cost-effective for very long run lengths (tens of millions)

K/0: indicates that one side of the print uses black ink and the other side is blank

Matte: a non-glossy, dull finish

Offset printing: a printing process that uses plates to transfer an image onto a rubber sheet, which is then used to transfer the image onto paper; cost-effective for high-volume (>1,000) print jobs and high-quality output

Paper weight: given in pounds (#), is a measure of paper thickness. There are two types of paper weight:
- Text weight: lighter paper; akin to high-quality printer paper
- Cover weight: heavier paper; used for items like cards or folders
For reference, 50# text weight paper is what you might find in a household printer, and 100# cover weight paper is often used to make business cards. Please note that 100# text weight and 100# cover weight will have different thicknesses because they use different types of paper.

PMS: "pantone matching system;" a universal color matching system where colors are pre-mixed with a specific formula of inks prior to printing to produce a more exact color

Scoring: mushing the fibers of the paper together at the score to weaken them so the paper is thinner and much easier to fold

Screen printing: a printing process to print directly on apparel

Thermography: a printing process that sprinkles resin on the ink while it is wet and exposes it to heat to raise the lettering and create an engraving effect for a fraction of the cost

UV/gloss coating: a clear-coat applied to printed material that gives the material a glossy look, helps protect it against damage, and enhances the brilliance of its ink. We recommend adding UV coating to documents that will be handled frequently, such as business cards and postcards

Varnish: essentially a colorless ink that manipulates how light relfects or is absorbed into a sheet

Velvet/soft touch: a soft finish that appeals to touch rather than sight

6C: a color profile that includes the four CMYK colors plus two others to expand the color gamut

8C: a color profile that includes the four CMYK colors plus four others to expand the color gamut

 

 
 
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