Archive for November, 2012

What’s The Future Of Printing?

Friday, November 30th, 2012

You might think that printing is under threat with the rise of digital media and communication; is it not true that people aren’t using paper and printed products as much? The truth is the digital revolution has provided the printing industry with a lot of the same advantages it has provided other industries.  It is true that printers will have adapt to the new world, arguably more so than other industries, but it’s likely that print will simply evolve into a new kind of industry which collaborates with online media and advertising rather than being replaced by it.

The digital revolution…

Although it’s easy to assume that the digital revolution have signalled the beginning of the end for printing, print has capitalised on many of the same advantages offered by the internet that other industries have.  The most significant advancement for printing over the last twenty years would be the rise of digital print and streamlining of workflow through advancements like Computer-to-Plate and filmless production, but other more generic opportunities have changed how printers do business:

Digital communication

Digital links to customers provide printers with a more efficient way of providing the end product.  In the past, a back and forth flow of manuscripts, proofs, mechanicals and the like made the process of printing an item longer, and gave the printer control.  These days files can be delivered electronically and jobs can be designed and produced in their entirety and sent directly to the printing service empowering the customer.  Jobs can be completed very speedily and it is estimated that by 2024 one third of all printing jobs will be done in a day.

File transfer is one aspect of e-commerce but enabling customers to speedily make orders, enquiries and the like over the internet makes printing easier for the customers.  If printing is set to become a very rapid process then providing an ordering system which is quick and easy will further enhance efficiency.

Digital printing, CTP and eliminating film

Digital printers have revolutionised the possibilities for print, speeding everything up and reducing costs.  It has enabled printers to offer customisation in the form of variable data printing, allows printers to offer services to a range of clients through cross media, and improved work flow.  The actual process of printing has been radically changed by the invention of CTP and digital printing means the use of film can be eliminated in the printing process.

…leads to a printing evolution

So although printing has taken advantage of the developments the digital and technological revolution has supplied, the bigger question is: does the digital revolution render the need for printing obsolete?  If we’ve got the internet, do we still need printed information?

It’s undoubtedly true that online media, marketing and communication has and will affect the print industry, but at the same time it’s also true that we’re not at a stage where the world can function without print.  Like every other industry, print will have to adapt to the new digital environment. The role of print is likely to evolve then into a service which works in collaboration with the digital world, rather than being replaced by it.

Do Billboard Adverts Really Work?

Monday, November 26th, 2012

With rise of social media and internet marketing it may seem like billboard adverts are becoming increasingly obsolete.  But if this is the case why do businesses still use them?  And it’s not just small companies who may be making a marketing mistake – huge companies still take advantage of the billboard from Channel 4 to Pepsi.  Indeed, some of the most famous landmarks in the world are, in essence, huge billboard structures.  Time square and Piccadilly Circus might have digitalised the billboard, but essentially pay homage to this form of advertising.  All of this indicates that the billboard must have some advertising power, but what is it and how does it compare to other avenues like online marketing, flyering, posters and the like?

The problems with billboard advertising

The most obvious problem with billboard advertising is that you can’t track conversions, unless you have a specific URL or phone number exclusive to the billboard, which adds cost.  If you can’t tell exactly how much business your billboard adverts are bringing in, then it’s really hard to assess whether they’re financially viable.  Of course, if you’re a service along the motorway and you want to let people know you’re just around the corner, then a billboard advert makes perfect sense, right?  But what about the boards you see which advertise something you can’t access whilst you’re travelling?  Have you ever gone home and investigated a business because of a billboard? You’d imagine the answer to be no, and yet the billboard adverts certainly doesn’t seem to be fading away, even with the rapidly developing world of social media targeted marketing.  So what is it about the billboard that works?

So why does it work? 

Billboards are huge structures which can have massive visual impact.  They’re normally very simple with minimal information.  The size of a billboard makes them eye-catching whilst the simplicity of the content makes them easy to take in.  A consumer also feels they have more choice when it comes to billboard advertising – if they don’t like something they can just look away, and this may make them more receptive than they might be to a particular TV advert which makes them switch channels or an annoying internet pop up which gets in their way whilst they’re browsing.  And this leads us to another idea.

Billboards capitalise on the state of mind of the traveller. If you’re browsing the internet then you are doing a specific task; an advert popping up interrupts you, and you therefore get rid of it immediately.  This kind of advertising is intrusive and because of this can be met with hostility and disregard.  But, when you’re sitting in the car as a passenger or in a traffic jam you’re unoccupied.  We look out the window on long drives and let our minds wonder, and it is this different state of mind which the billboard advert capitalises on.  It could be argued then that you’re way more likely to read a billboard advert than an advert on Facebook, even if the Facebook advert is meant to be targeted specifically at you.

What’s more a lot of people drive, which means a lot of people will see your billboard.  Billboards can’t be switched off; they are visible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  There are up to 34 million licensed vehicles on the road in the UK, and this number is increasing.  According to a study in America by the OAAA, 70% of people glance at billboards and 63% actually read them.  Put all these factors together and you start to understand why businesses still choose to use the billboard.

If you want to think of new marketing avenues and new ways to advertise then, a billboard, placed in a high traffic area might not be a bad idea.  It’s best to combine different types of advertising to reinforce brand identity and make yourself as visible as possible.

Digital Printing Vs Offset Printing: Which One Should You Go For?

Wednesday, November 21st, 2012

Both digital printing and offset printing have a role to play in the printing world depending on what requirements need to be met.  Read on for a brief guide to both types of printing and an outline of their respective advantages.

Digital printing: the process

The process of professional digital printing is much the same as what goes on in your home digital printer.  Instead of using traditional techniques, digital printing uses lasers inside the most advanced equipment to produce high quality images.

Offset printing: the process

Offset printing is a more traditional way of printing and is probably still the most popular printing technique.  A design is burned onto a plate, then offset from the plate to a rubber sheet, and then transferred to the paper, card or printed material.  The technique takes advantage of the repulsion between oil and water; the image will pick up the oily ink whilst the non-printed areas will become covered in a film of water ensuring a crisp image is produced.

Digital printing vs offset: which should you choose?

Quantity and timeframe normally become the deciding factor between offset and digital printing as well as cost.  If you need a lower quantity of print outs, but want them fast, then digital printing is the way to go.  Alternatively, if you’re printing a large quantity then it’ll be better to go for offset as unit costs go down as quantity increases.

In the past offset printing was considered to produce much higher quality images, but with technology rapidly advancing in the digital world the difference is now marginal.  Offset printing is likely to give you better solid screen tints and prints PMS colours more easily than digital printing.

Digital presses use CMYK colour process printing.  This means they combine four different colours to produce a tone.  If you only need one or two colours of ink to produce your print then, you may want to go for off-set as it’ll probably be more cost-effective.  On the other hand, if you need a few colours digital is likely to be a lot cheaper.

If you want to personalise your prints then digital printing gives you the opportunity without a huge cost, so if you want to do some unique marketing then digital may well suit you.

Overall there’s no reason to see digital printing in competition with offset printing.  Both have a role to play in the printing world and both satisfy different needs depending on what you are after.

Tips For Home Printing

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Should you print at home?

It depends what you’re printing, but if you’re asking yourself this question then chances are you’re printing out more than a confirmation email or some e-tickets.  If you’re considering printing something important, like invitations, photos or business cards at home then you need to have a think as to whether this is the best option to go for, or whether you might want to consider professional printing.

The advantages of home printing are all quite obvious: you’ll have the end product in your hands as soon as it’s printed, it will probably be cheaper in the long run and you’re in total control of the process.  The disadvantages are that you won’t benefit from the expertise a professional can offer and, put simply, your printed items probably won’t look as good.  What’s more, mistakes during printing could end up costing you both time and money, and if anything goes wrong you’ve only got yourself to turn to.  Home printing may mean you get the prints straight away, but it can take a surprising amount of time to get everything printed off to the standard you need it, and this can also be stressful.  Sometimes just taking a design down to a professional printers and going to pick it up at a later date saves stress, and you’ll have a great looking end product.

Photo Printing At Home:

Take great photos:

One of the most popular things to print at home are photos, and there are lots of tips and tricks you can try to get the best results possible.  Ideally you’re looking for digital printing quality which will match the quality of your digital photos.  A great place to start with this is to take great photos.  It might sound obvious, but a better photo is going to improve the end product.  There are so many useful tips on how to make the most out of a digital camera, so read up, get educated and you’ll have fantastic images as a starting point.

TIFF it:

Saving your images as TIFF Files is always recommended.  JPEG format creates smaller images so you can fit more on your memory card, but in essence this means worse quality photos.  If you want to print your photos then TIFF is always the best option.

Check your printer settings:

To get the best quality pictures you might need to adjust the DPI.  DPI means dots per inch; the more dots you have the higher quality image.  Most DPI settings can be changed easily from your computer’s control panel.

Use the right ink and paper:

Always use high quality photo paper and high quality photo ink to make sure your prints come out as well as possible.  Once they’ve printed out leave them somewhere safe to dry out completely so you don’t accidentally smudge or contaminate the image.

Printing invitations, business cards and more

If you want to print your own invitations, business cards or anything similar then the same kind of tips will apply.  Choose a great design and use a programme which is specially designed to enhance the quality of your image.  So don’t use Microsoft word or paint and do use photoshop or illustrator.  Again, changing your printer settings is a good idea as well as making sure you print on decent paper which is loaded correctly.

Follow these handy tips and printing at home should be a success.  If you want to absolutely ensure quality however, it might be an idea to pursue professional printing, or at least get a quote – you might be surprised by the value for money you’ll get.

Hot foil blocking vs cold foil blocking – what’s the difference?

Sunday, November 11th, 2012

Any printed item you see with a shiny foil design on it will have either undergone hot foil blocking or cold foil blocking.  It’s a very common design feature often seen on invitations, business cards, letterheads and the like and can add a striking and sophisticated visual effect to a printed item.  If you’re after this effect then you might have come across the options of hot foil printing or cold printing.  This article will outline the main differences between these two techniques and subsequent benefits of each.

What is hot foil blocking?

Hot foil blocking, also known as hot foil stamping, hot foil printing or just hot foiling is a technique which transfers a foil design onto a substrate.  A block is made of a particular design; this block is known as the hot die; then a combination of heat and pressure transfer the design onto the paper or board.  Hot foiling is done post-press which means that printed areas cannot overlap foil sections.

You can get hold of foil in almost any colour and even with hologram or pattern designs.

And cold foil blocking?

Cold foil blocking is similar to hot foil blocking, but as implied by the name, doesn’t involve heating.   It’s an inline process so it happens during printing.  The design is applied via UV activated adhesive rather than heated die, and therefore uses a UV lamp instead of heating equipment.

Hot foiling vs cold foiling


Better quality, brighter and doesn’t suffer from pinholing which can be a problem with cold foiling. Significantly cheaper.  Adequate where very high quality isn’t a concern.
Hot foiling can be combined with embossing and stamping to produce a tactile effect.  Cold foiling can’t. In-line foiling means it can be completed after or in between printing processes.
You don’t need an ultra-clean environment to hot foil; you do to cold foil Much quicker process than hot foiling
You don’t experience problems with UV lamps which can be common during cold foiling.

Hot foiling is generally favoured by those looking for real finish and quality.  Cold foiling is becoming increasingly popular however as techniques develop to iron out the problems with quality which originally put people off.  Cold foiling also has the appeal of being generally cheaper than hot foiling which is why a lot of printers offer both techniques.