Archive for the ‘Binding and Finishing’ Category

It’s Academic – Scholarly Journals are Big Business

Monday, October 13th, 2014

Digital content platforms attracted financial and strategic buyers last month, as increasingly sophisticated online systems drive information to centralized providers that automate the design, hosting and distribution of content. That content may or may not be printed, and often times will be printed only on-demand as the final consumer sees fit for their needs.

Academic journals caught the interest of private equity investor Accel-KKR, which acquired a majority interest in HighWire Press. HighWire, formerly a venture of Stanford University, has been spun off and launched into the competitive world of PE-backed companies. HighWire provides an open electronic platform for universities and other publishers of scholarly journals to develop and host their academic journals. Long noted for high page counts and short runs, academic journals were a natural and early adopter of online publishing. Notably, there is no actual printing press at HighWire Press and the content managed on its platform is delivered in digital form.

Across the country at another august institution, Princeton University, the ripple effect is being felt, with the announcement last month that the California Princeton Fulfillment Services, publisher and distributor of about 340 books for Princeton University, will be winding down and closing by this time next year. As the investment in digital publishing platforms continues to improve the management and delivery of online content, Princeton University Press has decided to outsource the hosting and fulfillment of publications to Perseus Distribution Services. Perseus boasts its own digital distribution services, linked to short run and print-on-demand partners, as well as over a million square feet for warehousing pre-printed books. The partner in the Princeton operation, The University of California Press, will be moving its digital journal content over to HighWire.

Two trends evident from recent transactions appear unrelated at first, but may in fact be connected, as larger companies invest in sophisticated customer-facing software platforms, and draw business away from the small mom-and-pop shops. Staples, the national chain of office supply retailers, acquired PNI Digital Media, a provider of digital print software that provides easy online ordering of consumer and corporate printed products. This follows on the heels of other recent transactions in the web-to-print space, such as Vistaprint’s acquisition of Pixartprinting last month. Over the past couple months, we have noticed an increase in the number of small local commercial printing and copying centers that filed for liquidation under Chapter 7; we found six that filed in May. This is in addition to an unknown number of small printing company owners that just gave, up, closed the door and walked away without the expense of actually filing bankruptcy. I expect that we’ll see more closures of independent small print/copy shops, driven in part by the increasing ease with which customers can go online and purchase their printing.

The buyer of the Boston Globe and the Telegram & Gazette, acquired last August in the spin-off from The New York Times, sold off the Telegram & Gazette which serves the mid region of Massachusetts. The buyer was Halifax Media, backed by PE firms Stephens Capital Partners and Redding Investments. In a twist of fate, the sale to Halifax brings former corporate cousins back under the same management, since Halifax had previously purchased and still owns the former New York Times Regional Media Group which consists of newspapers primarily located in the southeast US.

In another newspaper industry transaction, the Baltimore Sun Media Group announced that it is acquiring The Annapolis Capital and other local papers in Maryland. The Baltimore Sun Media Group is likely to find itself as the target in the near future, as it is owned by the Tribune Co., which also owns the Chicago Tribune and the Los Angeles Times and has announced that it plans to divest its portfolio of newspapers.

Wide format printers were targets in several deals in May, including the acquisition of wide format franchisor Speedpro Imaging in a deal backed by private equity investor Fairfield-Maxwell. The Garvey Group which as we reported in July 2013 acquired the western wide format division of Schawk, continued its growth by acquisition strategy with the purchase of retail display and wide format specialist Troyk Printing located in Franklin, Michigan. Industry behemoth RR Donnelley acquired the relatively tiny True Colors, a wide format shop in Vancouver, British Columbia.

All new Fold of the Week!

Thursday, May 15th, 2014
What should a company do when it wants to change its name? Throw a great party, of course! This week’s selection, designed by Prismatic ( and produced by Lawton Printers ( of Orlando, offers a really fun modification to the always exciting and varied tulip fold format. By adding a reverse panel to the cover, the opening experience is entirely fresh. The piece is dramatic in scale and features holographic foil, too. It’s a real winner. Cheers!

Book Publishing Made Easy with Inkjet Technology

Monday, April 28th, 2014

When we talk about inkjet technology and its benefits, the conversation tends to revolve around transaction (invoices, bills, statements) and promotional (direct mail) pieces. But in this webinar titled Inkjet: Implications for Book Printing Manufacturers and Publishers, InfoTrends’ Group Directors Barbra Pellow and Jim Hamilton bring book printing into the conversation. As they highlight, book printing now makes up roughly 20% of the inkjet marketplace, and is one of the fastest growing sectors towards adopting this technology. The webinar explores why the shift is occurring, defines emerging technologies, and discusses the financial implications of adopting a high-speed inkjet digital business model.

To understand any industry shift, it is important to consider social and financial factors that contribute to the changes in trends. In 2010, Hamilton cites three key conclusions about the changing dynamics of the book publishing industry. These include: “content is king, publishing is becoming more of a service than a product, and the days of high-volume book manufacturing are coming to an end.” By 2014, Hamilton affirms these conclusions are more prevalent than ever before with 1st mode publishing, just-in-time manufacturing, and print-on-demand services. In fact, with the onset of e-delivery, Hamilton proposes that the entire definition of a book is evolving. Now books are also electronic, on-demand, interactive, contain personal content and are delivered via multiple channels.

Although digital channels are rising in popularity, print remains one of the most effective delivery methods. In a recent PEW research study, it was found that 7 out of 10 adults read printed books. Only 4% of readers are ‘e-book only’, where as the majority alternate amongst digital, print, and audio channels. Likewise, print remains a significant source of publishers’ revenue. All of these trends, grounded in research, highlight the need for digital print solutions that can get personalized product to market in order to meet the needs of both publisher and consumer.

Book printers and publishers are realizing that production digital print provides a more effective method of manufacturing. Shifting from offset, the biggest growth opportunity now lies within inkjet color continuous feed technologies. From wharehousing and distribution to the integration with cross-media and interactive components, digital inkjet solutions provide the capacity to fulfill publishers’ demands. Essentially, the digital printer becomes a virtual document wharehouse, in which inventory is produced at the click of a button within a given workflow. And it all comes at a reasonable price with inkjet. The final portion of the webinar lays out the impact of print volume over cost distribution. In the projection, fixed costs like equipment and monthly service fees decrease per unit as volume increases, but the cost component from click charges and ink increase as volume increases. These numerical relationships are important to consider once you’ve determined how ‘long’ your run should be.

“Technology is becoming your friend in the publishing market,” claims Pellow. Inkjet technology in particular seems to provide the highest quality solution and workflow to meet the end goal. For more on cost factors, black versus color printing breakdowns, and the full list of benefits of inkjet, be sure to check out the full webinar here!

Super-Cool Fold of the Week!

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Brace yourselves for the most amazing feat of direct mail and digital print. This week’s selection was a spectacular find from HP’s DScoop Conference in Orlando. From Motioncutter in Germany and printed on an HP Indigo press, this pop-up self-mailer has an exciting secret – high-speed variable laser-cutting with personalization! Yes, imagine a different, highly-detailed laser cut name in EVERY mailpiece, produced at speeds of up to 6,500 per hour. Skeptical? You can watch their demo video, too. Mind = blown.


Super-cool Fold of the Week!

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

This week we highlight a mailer from GLS Companies in Brooklyn Park, MN. This is a great example of a creative self-mailer that fits within the realm of the newly created UPS self-mailer guidelines. Designed by Doug’s Creative in MN, this mailer presents as a postcard-sized booklet which opens sequentially in a “traveling snake” format. Each successive opening entices the reader with a snappy comment and then opens to reveal additional information. Very clever by both the designer and the printer!

Another Super-Cool Fold of the Week

Monday, April 1st, 2013

This week we look at the Awesome Spiral Accordion Mailer – it’s a must see mailer! Design by CSG Creative in Alexandria, VA. and produced by ITP in Elizabethtown, PA. This 2-part direct mail piece features a post card and circular piece that fits inside a mylar envelope, mailed first class. The circular piece unfolds in a spiral accordion patterns which opens to reveal a rectangular piece. The color and design accentuate the fold which highlights the expert nature of this piece. Scored and hand-folded – the final product is worth the effort.

Take a look for yourself!


Pushing the Envelope… Literally and Figuratively

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Creative direct mail can have a life far beyond the first recipient. In an Internet era, people go on Facebook and Reddit and Twitter to share the direct mail piece that turned their head. Here are some recent examples that I found particularly interesting, and that go to show that a little creativity can have a lasting effect in an increasingly digital world.

1. BMW “M-print”
I found this example extremely creative, in that it gave a new twist on variable print and personalization, as the car literally made thousands of unique impressions, and likely made exponentially more “impressions,” as 470,000 people have watched (on YouTube) the process that went into this direct mail campaign. Take a look:

Great campaign, great execution, and a lasting impression.


2. Mini (success from a glitch)
I found this earlier today on Reddit on the front page of “Funny,” and it shows that even in the face of a flub, there lies an opportunity. Take a look below, and see how a little creativity and humor can turn what could have felt like a disaster into having a customer that is “In on the joke.”



Included in the mailing was, you guessed it, a chocolate rose, a roll of duct tape and a can of Spam. Wonderful execution combined with a personal touch from a company that is known for being lighthearted. Goes to show that each individual mail piece you send has the ability to impact the recipient greatly and turn some bad PR into some great PR.


3. Griffiths, Gibson and Ramsay Productions (GGRP)
Possibly my all-time favorite example of creative direct mail (being an avid record collector and fan of intuitive design). GGRP Sound Studio mailed out a “make-your-own” phonograph player with a 45 rpm record. The recipient is enticed to build this working record-player and learns more about the business in the meantime.



This mailing reinforces the ideal that direct mail is most impactful when it becomes a keepsake, something that the recipient will refer back to in the future. Creative agencies were calling the Sound Studio asking if they had additional mailpieces to share!

Several members of our blog team have shared their recent “WOW” moments with print, such as CineprintAugmented Reality and a Lexus mailing that hit all the right “channels.” What is your Direct Mail story? What mailings stood out to you? Leave your comments below.

Editor’s Note: Keep up with all of Matt’s blogs at the SourceLink blog

It was the best of folds…

Monday, March 4th, 2013

The recent USPS Folded Self-Mailer regulations mean big things for direct mailers – there are now more creative options available to the mailing industry. These new options capitalize on advances in technology and mail processing capabilities. If you are interested in learning more about these new regulations, you can click here to to read the summarized reference guide, which was created jointly by the USPS and mailing industry.

In this week’s 60 Second Super-Cool Fold of the Week we highlight a direct mail piece from American Express which is made possible through – you guessed it – these new Folded Self-Mailer regulations! In this piece, you’ll see an opening flap on the non-address side of the envelope used to highlight some of the most noteworthy information bits of the offer. The piece opens to reveal an additional self-contained pocket, glued on the sides, protecting smaller printed brochures, response card, and response envelope. This is a great example of a fully automated, inline finishing direct mail run that will stand out in your customers stack of mail, inviting them to open.

Enough from me – see for yourself!

Fold of the Week!

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

And we are back with another Super Cool Fold of the Week!

This week’s fold comes from Penmor Lithographers in Lewiston, Maine. It is an innovative packet folder that was too interesting not to share! The tri-fold format folder has two big pockets allowing Penmor ample room to fill with print samples for promotional use. The cool part is in the third panel which holds three stacked inserts. It’s almost as if there are mini brochures built into the packet folder. The best part is how this area allows Penmor to draw customers’ attention to three key pieces of information that will not get lost amid other content in the first two pocket panels.

Watch the video to see exactly how Penmor created the final panel, complete with stoppers so as not to lose the inserts.

5 Amazing Ways to Integrate Video Into Your Direct Mail

Monday, December 17th, 2012

Direct mail is great. It has proven effectiveness, it’s tactile and it holds a certain sentimentality that cannot be matched. Video has been the hottest technology for years, and shows no signs of slowing down. It has been said that Direct Mail could suffer as a standalone marketing medium, but when made part of a multichannel strategy (through integration with email, social media or video), it actually can become stronger than the sum if its parts. Here are some ways to integrate video with Direct Mail:

QR linking directly to video

The most basic and inexpensive way to integrate video into your direct mail is through the use of QR codes. By creating a QR code that links to a YouTube video, you can create immediate conversions across channels, as the user in transported directly to your YouTube Channel or a custom landing page on their smartphone. Even better, if you work with a marketing provider that utilizes digital print and PURL technology, you can track and collect information as each user is whisked away to the land of your business video. Host these videos on your social media platforms, and that just adds one more facet to the Multichannel experience!

Die-cut postcards to “fill in the blanks”

Modern day print machinery can do amazing things. With the use of die-cutting on a postcard, video can literally “fill in the blank” of the removed portion. Direct the recipient to a simple YouTube URL or use a QR code to redirect the recipient, and have the user place the card on top. Voila! Instant tactile interaction with the mail piece and video combination. Think of creative ways to make the die-cut recess become part of the video. Video software becomes more inexpensive every year, and a little brainstorming can lead to an inexpensive campaign really producing a high-class touch!

Integrated video/picture utilizing translucent space

I’ll admit that I grabbed this idea from our blogger, Craig Blake, and his blog “Is Print Dead? Not According to Lexus!!” Cineprint technology is the branded name for this technology, and Sports Illustrated recently blew a number of minds with this advertisement:

As you can see, the branded technology can produce amazing results, and look for many marketers to use similar technologies (or homegrown versions of this technology) to really make mail pieces pop. Imagine your utility bill coming to life when placed on your iPad. Imagine a campus tour coming to life as the seasons change in front of the Admissions building. Imagine your spending habits graphed out live directly on your bank statement. Your imagination is the limit when a printed piece pairs with video elements that bring it to life.

Video on/in printed piece

A few years ago, Pepsi Max rolled out an advertisement in Entertainment weekly that literally had a video embedded into the magazine. The user chose from a variety of prerecorded options, and was able to interact with the magazine. This technology is getting less expensive every year, and with the benefit of behavioral and demographic data, this investment could be the right way to reel in that high-end real estate client or investor. When you utilize the data about your target audience, you can know your investment isn’t for naught. People know when you’ve put a lot of money and effort into your communications, and nothing has quite the “Wow!” factor that a video in a personalized mailing.


Augmented reality

Augmented Reality is defined as: Augmented reality (AR) is a live, direct or indirect, view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Direct mail will greatly benefit from AR applications in the coming years, as apps on a smartphoneare being developed at a rapid pace and at a reasonable cost to facilitate the use of printed images and AR. Several Higher Ed institutions are already using this technology to make personalized direct mail experiences, and with Google Glasses, websites will (likely) literally be able to be viewed from a mail piece. Landing pages, videos, graphics in 3D- the possibilities are literally endless, and so exciting. This technology is probably the most advanced of those discussed, but has great possibilities.

So there you have it, five ways you can integrate video into direct mail. These suggestions can be as inexpensive or as expensive as you choose. So to the naysayers: Direct Mail is not Dead, print isn’t passé: they are just in need of a multichannel spin, and what’s cooler than video?


Wow ‘em with Your Holiday Card

Monday, December 10th, 2012

In the spirit of the holidays, is sharing a playlist of some of their favorite holiday solutions from their world-famous sample library. Watch “magic hands” videos of 16 inspired holiday card solutions.

People have been sending us cool holiday cards for years, and we thought it was time to start building a playlist of holiday solutions to help companies get noticed at this time of year. If you’re a printer or designer or paper company, there’s a lot of pressure to do something memorable at the holidays, and I hope the playlist grows and becomes a springboard for new ideas.

Of course, foldfactory is always looking to expand the sample collection as well. If you produced a holiday card that you’re proud of – this year or in the past – we’d love to add it to the playlist and share it with the world. We’re also always looking for interesting solutions for direct mail, marketing brochures, pocket folders, invitations, specialty folding, and even bound solutions that integrate interesting folding techniques. To submit samples to, please visit for a mailing address.

Super-Cool Fold of the Week

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

This week, Trish shows us that any unique form or idea can be transformed into something mail-able… happy news for direct mailers everywhere! The piece is from Allied Printing Services, Inc. in Manchester, CT and was created for Hanover Insurance Group. This self-contained mailer pulls open to reveal a series of stacked classic tulip folds. Each panel features four stacked squares with a diagonal score which allows the two panels to collapse in. These pieces are somewhat labor intensive as they are all hand-folded, but we think the work pays off to create an impressive (mail-able) statement.

60-second Super-cool Fold of the Week #172

You can watch last week’s video here!

In Line or Not in Line, That is the Question

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Finishing Web Inkjet Printing, Part 2

Last week we discussed the components that you need to put together a finishing line for a web-fed inkjet system.  So now you have a good idea of what you need.  But now you have to look at your own workflow, customer requirements, and need for flexibility, and decide whether this is to be an inline system, or broken up into sections.    So the question becomes more strategic, and it is one only you can answer.   The answer is that it depends on your product mix, your service level requirements, and your operator skills.

If you ask the printer manufacturers, they often would prefer that you separate the printing from the cutting and finishing.  The reason is simple:  Most inkjet systems will run with little downtime if they are kept running smoothly from roll-to-roll.  All systems will suffer productivity losses if they are stopped and started while in production.  Some will experience more downtime and waste than others (an analysis for a different day), but they all will be less productive if the systems are stopped and started in synch with the needs of finishing equipment.  And this may be your best choice.  But it also may not be.

By separating the finishing from the printing systems you get both productivity enhancements and detractions.  The price you pay for separating the two processes is that you need more labor to handle the printed roll transfer between printing and finishing, you can experience more product waste due to roll damage and setup, and you can lose time in getting the first piece out the door.  You can also increase your risk of wasting a specific recipient’s piece, if your product is personalized, causing more pieces to be reordered.  You also have extra costs of an additional extra unwinder and rewinder.

What you gain by separating print from cut is also important to look at:  You get an important buffer between the printer and the finishing system, which allows your most expensive component to be as productive as possible.  If you have many different product sizes or types, you get the flexibility of using one of several different finishing lines depending on the product type, without a time-consuming mechanical changeover.  Although specs are changing all the time, usually finishing lines can run faster than the print engines, allowing them to “catch up” to production if there was a mechanical maintenance item on them that needed to be replaced, like knives or other wear parts.

The reciprocal discussion can be made for keeping everything in line.  You gain in less labor, faster first-product out-the door, lower chance of losing a piece or damaging part of a roll in the process.  But you give up finishing flexibility, and if any part of the entire system goes down, the entire line gets shut down.

That decision gets more complex due to the growing sophistication of in-line finishing systems.   One firm has been a pioneer in developing multi-capability in-line finishing, and can saddle-stitch, cold glue, or adhesive bind in-line with most continuous printers.   A recent installation in Italy, in-line with a continuous web ink jet printer shows that it can be a great choice, under the right conditions.  The finishing portion can divert printed sheets to either the saddle-stitcher, or the adhesive perfect binder based upon a sheet barcode.   This might be the ultimate in in-line finishing.

All of these pros and cons to inline vs. near-line discussion can be quantified, and your specific “best configuration” really depends on the financial and service level requirement set.  Here again is an area that an independent expert can become an invaluable resource in helping you determine how you should approach your new venture.

From Roll to Page: What do I need?

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Finishing Web Inkjet Printing,  Part 1

This is the first installment of a 2-part series on web inkjet finishing.  This installment will cover the tactical considerations that need to be considered when building your finishing line, and the next installment will be the more strategic question of whether your system components should be in-line or near-line.

The thought of moving to high speed color inkjet printing is very seductive, with the availability of fully variable images, continuously improving quality, runs as short as quantity of one, and the nearly non-existent expense of make-ready, but there is a lot to analyze and decide after making a decision to do it.

After you decide on a printing technology and vendor, the next biggest consideration is finishing.  High speed color inkjet printers are web fed, and there needs to be all of the cut/stack/fold/bind operations that any web printing process requires.  But these processes are handled differently because of the differences in how digital print creates a finished piece as compared to traditional offset printing.  As you are aware, the digital printing process prints one complete book or mailpiece at a time, minimizing or eliminating the need for collating.  Depending on your end products, there are some strategic decisions to make, and some tactical ones, too.

The tactical decisions are the end-product-specific things that you need to finish your printed piece:  Do you need to perforate, punch, stack, slit, slit-then-merge 2 or 3 webs, or fold?  Your finishing vendor can determine the modules and accessories you need based on your product descriptions, and these selections are generally fairly straightforward.

Perfing/punching decisions are broken into two parts:  Static punching and perforating usually gets placed before the first print engine.  This is a device that allows you to create the tractor or pin-feed holes along the outside edges of the paper, and cross perfs at each page if you have legacy bursting/folding equipment that you need to use.  Don’t forget the web cleaner so that chads and paper dust is minimized going into the print engine.

Dynamic punching and perfing can be triggered by either barcodes or other queue marks that are inserted in the margins by the print file and give you the flexibility of placing horizontal and vertical perforations, either partial or full width, on only selected pages.

Then you need to understand how you are going to bind.  If you come from traditional printing, binding is a bit different in the digital world, since you can print an entire book or other document sequentially. As a result, little or no collation is necessary, except for getting covers on publications and books, or getting your printed stack into an envelope.  So your standard pocket-style binders or inserters are generally not going to be suited for this new product stream.  You will need to investigate binding devices that will handle the new product stream.  Again, your binding equipment vendor can help you make this selection based on your end product.  The considerations for digital print binding are much broader than they were just a few years ago, with choices that include stitching, perfect binding and even a cold-glue binding option.

Now that you have the right components and modules to finish your product, you need to decide whether they should all run as a single production line, allowing you to load roll paper in one end and out comes a finished book, mailpiece, or other product, or break the line up into two or more pieces.  That issue we will discuss in the next installment.

Just us next week for Part 2 of this post! 

Fold of the Week

Monday, August 6th, 2012

Tune in for this week’s Super-Cool Fold of the Week… the Aquatic Iron Cross with Pocket and Wavy Accordion Insert. This fold comes from Finlay created for Mohegan Sun in CT for their 15th Anniversary. Words cannot do this fold justice, so watch the video below!