That’s a primary reason many printers print the pieces and send them to professional binderies for specialty finishing, Anson says. “We always recommend there be a test strike done by us, to make sure we have the specialty effects they’re looking for,” he reports. He cautions that problems can arise when work must be done in a week, and there’s no time for the crucial strike run.
Another step that leads to greater success is discussing budgets at the outset, so a bindery can suggest specialty effects within a printer’s budget, he adds. Doing so helps sidestep a time management problem for both players, because precious time can be wasted working on effects outside the budget.
One additional strategy that can help printers is to be proactive, rather than reactive, in selling their own customers on specialty finishing. “What would help them is to go to their local finisher, and ask the finisher to arm them with samples of every special effect that’s available,” Anson says. “That way, when their sales team is on the road meeting with customers, they can not only show their customers’ buyers, but leave some samples in the hands of those buyers.”
That enables the buyer to educate their own colleagues about what specialty finishing options are available. “The end game is not to get more money out of the buyers’ pockets, but to demonstrate the effectiveness of print, and to make it as popular and widely used as possible,” he says. “If the buyers want bang for their buck, print plus special effects will give them that bang.”
The DIY Alternative
So far, we’ve described scenarios in which customers of conventional printers require, for instance, custom die-cuts requiring dies to fit their particular needs, and those jobs are farmed out to specialty finishers for completion.
But there’s another not infrequent scenario, says Chris Van Pelt, president of Therm-O-Type, a 35-year-old company that manufactures digital finishing equipment for digital output. “If you’re doing a lot of the Web-based work going on today, the job is printed almost automatically by the order system, but when it comes off the machine, the printer has to do the finishing operations,” he says.
“Those may include blind embossing, die-cutting, hole-punching, cross-cutting, cross-creasing, cross-perforating, in-line slitting, scoring, or perforating. Those operations cannot go out, there’s not enough time.”
The solution is obtaining digital finishing equipment that’s programmable, and that allows printers to very quickly set up for small-quantity orders and process them accurately in-house. “They can get that from our company,” Van Pelt says.
Most Therm-O-Type customers process orders that have to ship within 12 hours of arriving. They’re producing door hangers, round-corner business cards, round-corner postcards, round-corner greeting cards, and such things as holiday gift tags. The combination of hole-punching and die-cutting offered by the company’s equipment lets them produce items such as tabbed divider sheets.
Therm-O-Type’s biggest selling machine, the Zip-TS2L, has two tooling stations to do embossing, die-cutting, perforating, slitting, scoring, and hole-punching, and also has a cross-sheet guillotine cutter.
Printers can use the combination of those features to create many different products in one pass of the machine. “You’re doing in one pass what would normally be done in multiple passes with multiple machines,” Van Pelt says. “It’s very cost effective, especially when you’re doing small quantities.”
Therm-O-Type likes to emphasize the value of products created on its machines. Printers making square-corner business cards or square-corner postcards are all too aware these are low-profit items. But round-corner business cards, round-corner postcards, fold-over cards, round-corner fold-over cards, and hangtags with holes punched in them feature enhancements that significantly increase the retail value of the products. “It also decreases the competitive pressures on pricing,” Van Pelt says. “That’s because most people don’t offer round-corner business cards or round-corner postcards.”