The Best Guide to Print Finishing Techniques

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The Best Guide to Print Finishing Techniques

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Looking to make your brochure stand out from the crowd but don't know the best print finishing technique to use? Design Inc explains them all.

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Ice Marine brochure design

Although Design Inc is well known for its higher quality creative skills, if a client’s brochure, magazine, leaflet, stationery (or whatever printed item they require) is to stand out from the crowd, then it is crucial that the right print finishing technique is used.

For over 20 years, Design Inc have been supporting companies with the creation of their promotional, internal & marketing communications and this includes all printed collateral.

‘Print finishing’ refers to any process that is applied to the printed product after it has gone through the printing process. And, whilst print finishing may be a small part of the entire manufacturing process, it enables the product to truly stand out and make a striking difference to the overall look and feel.

What follows is a listing of some of the more common print finishing technique examples that are used in the printing industry.

This is the general term for the gathering of pages of a publication. There are various specialist binding techniques, including:

Blind UV Varnish
this is the same technique as above except that the varnish coating is applied in an area where there is no print. As the clear varnish is printed as if it were a printed colour, it can be any shape, pattern or words. The great thing about blind UV varnish is that you do not see it until light reflects across the area.

Debossing / embossing
Debossing (also known as letterpress) is the process of stamping an image/shape into the paper so you see a visible dip in the sheet.
Embossing is the reverse (creating a raised image from behind).
This is more often down over the top of an existing image or text but, like UV varnish, you can have ‘blind embossing’ which is where the indent is made onto a non-printed area of the paper.

Die Cutting
Die cutting is the process that cuts out shapes (holes) from sheets of paper using a ‘cutting forme’, traditionally made from plywood to give printed materials crisp creases and clean cuts.
This technique is common in the manufacture of folders, envelopes or even curved corners on a business card.

Die Stamping
This is a high quality print finishing technique that dates back to the 16th century. Also known as copperplate printing, this process is similar to embossing but with ink placed in the die before stamping.
Die stamping provides the ability to raise and incredibly fine area of the paper.

Duplexing is the process of gluing two sheets of paper (or card) together to create extra thick products which would be too think to pass through a printing press.
The process is just the same for Triplexing but here you use three sheets to make the end product even thicker and harder.
Duplexing with different coloured sheets along with die stamping, can create some truly stand out pieces.

Otherwise known as foil blocking or foil stamping, this is the process of applying a metallic foil to the surface of a printed piece via a metal stamp (die). Adding a gold or silver foil to a publication raises its perceived quality.
The ‘foils’ are available in a range of colours, finishes and patterns and it is possible to foil block onto many different materials other than just paper and card.

Gilt edging
Gilt edging is the process of adding foil to the edge of a product. More commonly seen on invitations or on prestige hard-back books. Foils come in gold and silver, as well as many other metallic colours.

Lamination is a finish which adds a protective coating layer (matt, gloss or silk) to the printed surface and also improves sturdiness and water resistance. Moreover, it creates a luxurious feel to the printed surface – especially if applied to the covers of a brochure or book.

Layflat Binding
This is a relatively modern technique which allows print to flow perfectly across a double page spread. Once opened, books lay completely flat without the text and images on that open spread being interrupted by the join. This binding method is ideal to display images at their full potential.
The image above shows an example of a layflat book.

Machine Sealing
Machine sealing is an invisible coating that is applied to a printed material. Though it doesn’t make any difference to the appearance of the printed item, still, it seals the ink under a protective coating.

Perfect Binding
Where books and publications have too many pages to saddle stitch, perfect Binding is more often the preferred binding solution. The end result is similar to a traditional paperback book.
Perfect bound books consists of two sections; the cover (typically heavier stock) and the text pages. The two sections are then glued together at the spine using the Perfect Binding Machine which applies hot melt glue to bind all the pages together.

Saddle Stitch Binding
Also known as FST, this is the type of binding that uses staples to hold the pages together. More often used for booklets and publications with 40 or less pages, the pages of the publication are printed as pairs, collated in sets and stapled (stitched) on its spine to hold all pages in place.

Spot UV Varnish
This is a print finishing technique which adds varnish onto specific areas of a printing item. For example, over the image only – and even if the shape of that image was irregular (ie not in a box).
Spot ultra violet (UV) varnishing tends to be used on brochures, special direct mail pieces, envelopes and even on business cards.

Wire Binding
Wire binding is a popular commercial book binding method. With this binding method, pages are inserted into a C-shaped spine and this is then squeezed tight around the pages. Documents that are bound with wire binding will open completely flat on a desk.

Thermography is a technique that enables a clear powder to be added in an exact location of the printing piece and, after going through a heating process, the area upon which the powder was applied becomes raised.

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