Print finishing

Finishing Touches

Print finishing options

It’s often easy to overlook all the ways that printed documents can be transformed in what commercial printers call the ‘finishing’ stages. There is an incredible array of finishing techniques and services available. Such processes can do anything from augmenting your document, for example adding rounded corners or spot varnish, to converting flat sheets into something completely different, for example pads, pop-up greetings cards or folded cartons. So, we thought we’d highlight many of the options available at Firstpoint Print.

Scoring, Creasing & Folding

Starting with the most simple, obvious finishing services, we first come to folding, scoring and creasing. These are extremely inexpensive techniques to turn things like flat sheets into folded sheets — perfect when making booklets, brochures, newsletters, greetings cards and so on. Whether we score or crease depends upon the thickness of the paper/card being used but, rest assured, you can leave such decisions to us.

Perforating

When you need to be able to easily tear your documents along a predefined path, we can perforate the sheets to make it easy and accurate. We can also ‘micro perf’ on thinner sheets so that the path of the perforation is virtually invisible. Perforation is great for things like tear-off reply cards, tickets and vouchers and is one of those inexpensive finishing processes that simply make life easier. We can perforate in straight lines or, through use of a special tool, in curves and shapes of your choosing.

Guillotining

Keeping with the simple finishing processes first, we come to guillotining. Our guillotines can accurately and quickly cut whole reams of paper and card in one quick action. They’re even laser guided! So if you need something cut down to a smaller size, just let us know. Guillotining is another very inexpensive process.

Gluing

Whether it’s permanently gluing tabs during the assembly of cartons, or using removable glue to temporarily hold a business card into a folder, we have many gluing processes available. We can glue multiple sheets of paper along one edge to form pads and we can add peel-off glue strips to items you may later want to seal (bespoke envelopes for example). We can even ‘print’ glue that allows the recipient to fold a document in half and seal the edges together with a little moisture – great when sending documents that need to double as a response form.

Read more

30 Great Printing Resources (part 2)

30 Great Printing Resources (Part 2)

30 Great Printing Resources (part 2)

Yet More Tips, Tricks & Technical Guides for Getting the Very Best Out of Your Print

Here we continue where we left off in the last post, with the second half of our library of extremely useful print-related resources. These further tips, tricks and technical guides cover things like envelopes, paper sizes, foil blocking, raised print in all its forms, folders, roller banners, variable data printing and why you should use it — and much more. Follow the guides to ensure that you get the very best return on the investment you have made into your printing.

16. Folders

Printed folders come in many shapes and sizes and demonstrate various levels of complexity. Whether used to hold a simple business card or several internal brochures and more, there can often be more to folders than meets the eye. Here’s a handy guide to what’s possible.

17. How to Print Economically

Make the most of your design and printing budget with our handy guide to keeping a lid on printing costs. Here’s how …

18. Roller Banners

Our guide to roller banners – what they are, what they can be used for, sizes, artwork specifications and some examples. Learn more here.

19. Raised Print

If you’d like to add a new dimension to your printing and print something in relief, here’s a handy guide showing how to make your printing stand out.

20. Fonts

Our guide to using fonts in your artwork, including ways to make sure what you design is what you end up printing. Embedding fonts, outlining fonts and more, right here.

21. Printing – Under the Magnifying Glass

Printing under the magnifying glass: our close-up guide to using tints, mixing inks or tints, use of black(s), dot formations and how these differ between litho, digital and large format printing processes. Learn more in this guide.

22. Paper for Printing — A Beginner’s Guide

A beginner’s guide to paper for printing, whether coated, uncoated, recycled, textured or something else. Read our guide here.

23. UK Paper Sizes — A Handy Reference

UK paper sizes – a handy reference. Includes the ISO series of sizes including A sizes (‘A4’ etc.), B, C, D, RA and SRA sizes plus many more. It also includes a few other useful facts that may surprise you. Here’s the guide.

24. Variable Data Printing: for Personalised Print

Variable data and its use in truly personalised printing. Learn all about it here.

25. ‘Print on Demand’ & its Benefits

‘Print on Demand’ – what it is, it’s key benefits, how you can use it to your advantage and where you can get it. Here’s the guide.

26. Everything You’ll Ever Need to Know about Envelopes

Envelopes – our handy guide telling you Read more

30 Great Printing Resources (part 1)

30 Great Printing Resources (Part 1)

30 Great Printing Resources (part 1)

Tips, Tricks & Technical Guides for Getting the Very Best Out of Your Print

Looking back at some of our older blog posts, it’s clear that we have some pretty good printing-related guides and resources on the site. So, we thought we’d pull them all together in a handy ready-reference for our readers — a complete library of useful print-related resources at your fingertips. These tips, tricks and technical guides cover things like creating better design, preparing technically correct artwork, using the most appropriate colour spaces and generally making better choices to ensure that you get the very best outcome from every printed job. Some guides are even downloadable for you to keep. Here are the first 15 of 30 guides …

1. A Guide to Preparing Print-Ready Artwork:

One of the most important and popular guides on our site: how to prepare print-ready artwork that is technically correct in its set-up, to give you the very best printed results. View or download the PDF guide here. Also, see #13 below.

2. The Best PDF Settings for Your Artwork

Covering similar ground to #1 above, but in far more detail, we next have a guide to the settings that you should use when saving your artwork in PDF format. View or download the PDF guide here. More information is also available to read online here.

3. The Difference Between CMYK and RGB

A guide explaining the difference between CMYK and RGB colour modes and when to use each, for example when saving your full colour images. View or download the PDF guide here. More information can also be read online here and here.

4. Digital vs. Litho Printing

At Firstpoint Print we’re lucky enough to have both litho (or ‘lithographic’) and digital printing. But which technology is best for your particular print job? View or download the PDF guide here. More information is also available here and here.

5. Using Transparency in your Printing

Modern page layout and image manipulation software now allows you to control the level of transparency in your images and artwork layers. However, there are some pitfalls to avoid if you’re intending to print with transparency effects. View or download the PDF guide here. More information is also available to read online here. Read more

Firstpoint Print Victoria branch

Our Victoria Branch – in the Spotlight

Firstpoint Print Victoria branch

In the third and final post of our 3-part series highlighting individual branches, we go to London’s SW1 to take a closer look at the Victoria branch of Firstpoint Print.

Firstpoint Print Victoria, SW1

The Victoria branch of Firstpoint Print is located on the Vauxhall Bridge Road, being the A202, roughly halfway between Victoria Station and Vauxhall Bridge itself. This means that the commercial printer is perfectly situated to serve individuals, businesses and organisations located nearby in such areas as …

  • Battersea
  • Belgravia
  • Brixton
  • Bond Street
  • Charing Cross
  • Chelsea
  • Embankment
  • Green Park
  • Hyde Park Corner

  • Knightsbridge
  • Lambeth
  • Lancaster Gate
  • Leicester Square
  • Marble Arch
  • Mayfair
  • Nine Elms
  • Oval
  • Piccadilly Circus

  • Pimlico
  • St James’s Park
  • Sloane Square
  • Soho
  • South Kensington
  • Vauxhall
  • Victoria
  • Westminster
  • & Southwest London

As with all Firstpoint Print locations, the Victoria branch is also happy to supply printing services less locally including to customers in the Southeast of England and the UK as a whole. With overnight courier services being so fast and reliable these days, and online ordering available on the Victoria website, the branch can be the commercial printer for pretty much anyone, in any location. More about our online services below …

Firstpoint Print Victoria’s Printing Services

The Victoria branch has just about every printing-related service and facility that you could possibly ever need. We have in-house graphic designers who can cater to all your creative design and artwork requirements. We have digital printing presses ready and waiting for your quick turnaround, low-to-medium volume colour printing, duplication work and ‘on-demand’ printing. We have litho printing facilities that are perfect for single colour, spot colour or full colour medium-to-high volume print runs with the ultimate high quality results. We have large format printing machinery standing by for anything that you require in a large size, whether it’s a simple poster or a full-scale exhibition stand, display, pop-up system or roller banner. Read more

Printing terms & jargon - explained

Printing Terms & Jargon – Explained

Printing terms & jargon - explained

It’s sometimes easy for printers to forget that not everyone will understand some of the common terms and jargon that is spoken within the industry. For example, printers may refer to ‘process printing’, ‘CMYK’, ‘bleed’ or even ‘trapping’. But what do each of these actually mean? Here we explain …

Above the fold
This refers to the part of a document which you first see, for instance the top half of a document or, for websites, the part of a web page which you see without having to scroll down vertically.

Accordion fold
A way of folding a document or brochure so that it concertinas open/closed.

.ai file
An Adobe Illustrator file type (usually used for vector graphics like logos, charts or illustrations).

Ampersand
The letter &, meaning ‘and’.

Art paper
This is a type of paper, commonly used in commercial printing, which has a coating of a clay-based compound, to give it a very smooth surface on which the printer’s ink will sit without absorption. This usually results in the best type of printed result (e.g. saturated colours and good contrast).

Artwork
The type of professional digital file supplied to commercial printers, from which to print (if digital printing) or make plates (if litho printing). Click here for a guide to supplying artwork.

Binding
The fastening together of pages (e.g. of a book, manual or brochure). Examples include perfect binding, wiro binding, saddle stitch binding, hard binding and soft binding.

Bleed
An extra extension of images or graphics beyond the edge of a printed page or sheet (usually 3mm in width). This makes sure that, once trimmed, any images or graphic which extend to the edge of the sheet do not have an unwanted white margin.

Blind Emboss
An unprinted image, formed in relief, using a metal ‘die’ which is forced against the paper or card under pressure. Read more

What we can print

We print almost anything!

What we can print

We’re often asked if we print particular items, for example, “Do you print NCR sets?” … “Can you overprint envelopes” … “Do you do packaging” and so on. Well, the good news is that our answer is nearly always “Yes!” We can print any kind of stationery item, virtually any item of sales and marketing collateral and almost any type of large format graphics. However, it goes way beyond those simple categories — take a look:

Stationery

We regularly print:

  • Business & personal stationery
  • Letterheads
  • Continuation sheets
  • Compliments slips
  • Business cards
  • Corporate envelopes

Sales & Marketing Collateral

The following are no problem at all:

  • Brochures & booklets
  • Catalogues
  • Manuals
  • Flyers & leaflets
  • Newsletters
  • Folders
  • Annual reports
  • Labels and stickers
  • Variable data mail shots
  • Direct mailers
  • Pop-ups & cardboard engineering
  • Overprinted envelopes
  • Programmes
  • Postcards
  • Name tags
  • Point-of-sale signs
  • Point-of-sale flyers
  • Corporate manuals
  • NCR sets
  • Forms

Packaging

If it’s printed digitally or via litho printing, then packaging is also no problem here at Firstpoint Print. For example:

  • Cartons
  • Pillow packs
  • Sleeves
  • Header cards
  • Hanging packs
  • Labels
  • Swing tags
  • CD and DVD inserts and covers
  • Printed dust jackets for books;
  • Sample packs and swatch packs etc.

Large format printing

Need something printed large? No problem — we can produce all this and more: Read more

Print vs Pixel - the rebirth of printing

Print vs. Pixel – The re-birth of printing

Print vs Pixel - the rebirth of printing

In a world which is becoming increasingly digital, it is encouraging to know that physical printing is enjoying renewed popularity — and in no small way. Not long ago, with the arrival of electronic literature in the form of Acrobat PDFs, e-shots, ‘page-turning’ browser app’s and even the one time massive growth of e-books, one could have been forgiven for thinking that ‘traditional’ printing was well and truly on its way out. However statistics now show that there has been a reversal in the fortunes of physical printing and, unlike the music industry, it is bucking the digital trend and is growing in popularity. Meanwhile its electronic equivalent, which seemed for a while almost ready to take its place, is losing ground drastically.

Take e-books as a ‘print vs. pixel’ barometer

Many predicted that printed books would soon be a thing of the past when e-book readers like the Kindle arrived on the scene. Indeed the sale of printed books did drop radically while e-book sales grew enormously for a couple of years (a 1260% sales increase between 2008 and 2010). However this trend is now reversing. We are now seeing a mass migration back to the printed word. Forrester Research reports that last year sales of e-readers were 40% lower than in their heyday back in 2011 and the sale of e-books accounted for only a fifth of book sales in the entire U.S. The Association of American Publishers also reports that paperback sales are increasing — sharply. So the predicted print revolution, in the form of digitisation which affected digital music so profoundly, never actually came to fruition for the printed word. Some surveys also suggest that young readers prefer reading printing on paper, despite being ‘digital’ down to their DNA. The American Booksellers Association says that they’re now in a healthier position than they’ve been for years. Printed matter matters again and major publishers are indeed radically expanding warehouse storage to cope with the re-born demand for physical, printed products.

So what has helped printing to prevail, despite the odds?

Again using printed books vs. digitised books as a good example, I for one tried a few e-books on my new Kindle and, for the first couple it seemed fantastic. But this feeling was short-lived as I found it difficult to obtain particular books that I’d had in mind, while also tiring of the cold, sanitised feel of the electronic e-book reader. I missed the comforting intimacy of the paper, the rustle of the turning page, the feel and even smell of the book and, of course, the full colour, graphically printed cover with its notes, review extracts and ancillary information. I also missed owning something physical and tangible. In contrast to the real thing, e-books felt intangible and sterile. ‘Sterilised’ really sums it up.

Printed paper has a character and an identity

Printed paper has a feel, it has a texture, it has an identity and it even has a smell. They combine to form the character of the printed piece in question. Try accomplishing that with a digital version of the same thing — it’s simply not possible. Digitally reading what should have been printed matter is rather akin to viewing the world with one eye closed. Things look kind of similar but something is missing. Everything is two-dimensional, soulless and that word again — sterile. Read more

Foil blocking

Foil blocking: add a new dimension to your printing

Foil blocking

Foiled & die-cut greetings cardIf you’re looking to add an extra visual dimension to your design and printing then you would do well to consider foil blocking. As the name suggests the result is an area of printing which has literally metallic or even mirror-like qualities – whether used for a logo, border, decoration or other image. With foil blocking, the amount of reflection achieved is far greater than standard Pantone ‘liquid’ metallic inks which, although attractive and metallic to a degree, are rather more subdued and far less like highly reflective metal in comparison.

So how is foil blocking accomplished?

Foiling dieFoil blocking is traditionally accomplished by using a hot metal ‘die’, which carries the required design in relief. This is used to force a sheet of wafer-thin metal foil against the paper surface which is to carry the final design. By applying the die under high pressure and heat, the wafer-thin foil adheres only to those parts of the paper or card which come into contact with the raised relief on the hot die. Resulting areas which show the ‘printed’ foil are slightly indented (debossed) due to the pressure exerted on them. This slight debossing can also add a subtle extra dimension (literally) to the printed piece and is particularly effective when the foil blocking is used on textured card, for example a posh ‘Report & Accounts’ or high specification corporate brochure. Not only does the foiling process deboss the textured cover, but it also flattens the texture in the parts which are foiled. So the result is a mixture of textured and flat surfaces along with a beautifully accomplished logo or design made out of metal foil. Being debossed, the foiled areas glint in the light more readily for a jewel-like quality, as you can see in the photographs above.Holographic foil blocking

Foil finishes

Foil options include high gloss mirror finish, satin and matt as well as holographic foils rather like you see on bank notes (used because they’re so tricky to forge). Whichever finish is used, the result is an eye-catching metallic foil logo, symbol, border or design which catches the light, glinting and reflecting as would any highly polished metal.

Cost considerations

Foil blocking in one ‘metallic’ colour is generally a little more expensive than Read more

Specialist print finishes

Special Printing Options & Finishes:

Specialist print finishes

If you want to give your printed pieces that little something special then you could consider some of our optional extras. These are specialist printing or finishing processes which will ‘lift’ your printing and design in one way or another, make it stand out, and give it a feel of real quality. Here are some of the options we can supply at Firstpoint Print, London:

Spot colour

Spot colour can be used when an exact colour match or hue is essential and when it can’t be replicated from standard ‘full colour process’ (CMYK) printing. With spot colour the ink is actually mixed to the right colour before going onto the printing press and, by doing this, you can print colours which simply cannot be replicated using traditional full colour or digital printing. Colours can be more bright and saturated and, indeed, you can even print fluorescent colours when printing with spot colours. Spot colour printing also allows you to print a huge range of metallic inks which, again, is simply not possible using traditional CMYK or digital printing. It should be noted, however, that for every single spot colour being printed, a new printing plate will be required so unless the job only uses two or three spot colours, it can work out quite a bit more expensive than full colour process (CMYK) or digital printing. It is also only possible using the litho process.

Foil blocking

Foil blocking is printing which looks like metal, and indeed it consists of imprinting a very thin layer of metallic foil onto the surface of the paper or card. In its shiny form it has a mirror-like surface which is way more shiny and reflective than the spot colour metallic printing mentioned above. It is also, however, available with a matt or satin finish. A limited range of standard foil colours is also available and, of course, this includes various golds, silvers, coppers and a gunmetal finish, along with a limited pallete of greens, blues, reds, lilacs and pinks etc. Holographic foil is also available and this resembles some of the foiled details you often see on bank notes. Foil blocking is usually confined to a few elements, for example a logo or titles. The smaller the total area to be foiled, the cheaper it’ll be to print.

Embossing/debossing

Embossing and debossing is traditionally produced using metal dies (similar to how foil blocking is done, in fact). The result will be that the surface of the paper or board is either imprinted inwards (debossed) or raised outwards towards the viewer (embossed). So the printed piece is given a third dimension. It is important to remember that the reverse side of the sheet will also be affected so care should be taken with the design as a whole. Embossing and debossing can be combined with other printing techniques such as litho printing and/or foil blocking so, for instance, a logo could be both printed in colour (and/or foil) and be embossed (and/or partially debossed). The very finest stationery often uses this approach, for example where a coat of arms or emblem is both printed and embossed, giving the resultant stationery a very luxurious quality and feel. Also see UV embossing in the relevant section below.

Lamination

Laminating your printed covers or folders etc. can Read more