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.

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Lamination, encapsulation & varnishing your printing

Lamination vs. Encapsulation vs. Varnishing

Lamination, encapsulation & varnishing your printing

Once you’ve decided on a design for your sales and marketing literature and the artwork is ready, consider what finish you will have on the final print. This can make a huge difference to both the look and feel of the final printed document. Will gloss look good, or would matt look better? Should it be used all over, from edge to edge, or only in certain ‘spot’ areas? From a technical point of view, should it be varnished, laminated or encapsulated? Which printing/finishing process will give you the desired result, without breaking the bank?

What’s the difference?

Lamination

Lamination involves sealing a very thin lamina (whole sheet) of clear plastic, under significant pressure, to the front and/or back of a sheet of paper, card or board. So the entire surface of the stock is covered in the laminated plastic. The most common types of lamination are ‘gloss, which is very glossy, ‘matt’, which has a lovely silky feel and a soft, matt appearance, and finally ‘soft-touch’ lamination, which is most similar to matt lamination but has a slight rubbery feel to it – it’s quite a tactile thing, which is subtle but pleasant.

Varnish

Varnishing (specifically machine varnishing) usually involves a liquid varnish being ‘printed’ just as if it were a liquid ink like black. If it’s an overall varnish, no plate is required. If it’s a ‘spot’ varnish, then a printing plate will be needed just as it would if the varnish was a coloured ink. So this difference will affect the price a little. (There are now also some digital versions of varnishing now available and, as we know with most digital printing, no plates are required). ‘Machine’ varnishes can be matt, silk or gloss, however traditional ‘litho’ machine varnishes tend to be more muted than “UV varnish”, which is described below …

UV Varnish

UV varnish is a more specialist type of varnish. It is most commonly seen in a glossy finish and the gloss is so glossy that it is difficult to tell it apart from gloss lamination.** UV varnishing is more expensive than ‘machine’ varnish, as it’s a slightly more complex printing technique, but the effect is way more dramatic. 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