Non-Laminated Mail Takes a Beating

By | March 19, 2013

Years ago, I wrote about a study conducted by the Digital Printing Council on the lamination (or non-lamination) of direct mail and how the various toner-based presses fared in the mail stream. The topic is still around apparently, since it is kicking up quite a storm in one of the industry discussion groups.

The poster expressed frustration that the USPS had been “particularly cruel” to his non-laminated direct mail piece and was looking for advice on the best way to create scuff-resistant mail.

Here are a few interesting responses:

Well, being in the lamination business for 25 years, you know what I would suggest. Not sure what USPS did and not sure what type of DM you did, but coatings may still scuff. Lamination will certainly preserve the piece from tearing or the ink being scuffed. It will add to the cost, but so will coating or even bagging your piece.

(Chuck Thompson, Business Development Manager, Cosmo Films)

If you print digitally and mail, without coating or laminating, you will get scuffing and poor looking pieces. I see from your profile that you are from the manufacturing side of the industry. Welcome to the user side. Toner does not absorb into paper. It sits on top and is easily rubbed off by rollers . . .  Next mailer, budget for coating or laminating or have it run on old fashioned offset lithography.

(Ed Keenan, Owner, Document Depot [NYC])

Ryan’s dilemma may create an interesting opportunity for him. DM users are always searching for ways to improve response. It is possible that film lamination could add visual impact that would do just that. For the next mailing try laminating half of the pieces, then mail using an A-B split (every other name receives the laminated piece). Code the labels, address, or response piece to show which lot generated every response. You may be surprised at improved results.

(Mike Burrows, President and Owner at Burrows Consulting, Inc., Washington D.C.)

Other suggestions included printing on synthetic substrates, using offline UV, and to keep costs down, using a lighter weight stock and laminating only on the messaging side and leaving the address side uncoated.

What was interesting was that, once the suggestions were proffered, they solicited responses from other group members who found that, at least from the technical side (not the marketing response side), it didn’t seem to matter whether the prints were laminated or not or printed on synthetic stocks or not. It’s so nice to have a consensus, isn’t it?

What’s your experience?

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2 thoughts on “Non-Laminated Mail Takes a Beating

  1. Ritch Lefvre

    When laminating a piece cna you still get bulk rate machineable rates with USPS? Have others found it difficult to work wiht USPS in regards to non paper direct mail charged at a first class rate?

  2. Doug Yeager

    I have been arguing with the USPS for 6 years about the amount of damage they create on digitaslly printed pieces. Of course the easy answer is tor print lithographically, except in today’s environment, the power of variable data makes that mostly imposible. At one point, I had a USPS design analyst in our facility to discuss the issue with them. They have every excuse in the book. Change the size, change the paper, change the design. The problem is with the machinery they have at the sorting facilities. My suggestion to them was to go back to the machinery company and have them change the machinery to run at the speeds they demand without damaging the mail. Of course, that answer got nowhere. We have tried digitaly coating the sheets, UV coating the sheets, no coating on the sheets – everything short of film laminating. Yes, we even fin seal some of the mail. The fact is, no matter what coating is on the sheet, there can still be issues where the piece gets damaged do to USPS equipment. I don’t see that changing. It is an educational process with the customer every day. We put a digital coating on every piece we print that is going in the mail stream, just for some sort of protection. Unfortuately, most customers do not have a budget that allows for film or UV coating. It is tough enough to get a customer to udnerstand they will get better results with a variable piece than a static piece, whcih typicaly will cost more. To add an expensive coating on top of it is mostly out of the question.

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