Here’s Why You Need to Consider Paper Early in the Process
So, you’ve decided to look into high-speed production inkjet to see if it’s a good fit for your business. You’ve gone to various OEM events and talked to many colleagues in the industry. And, if you’re like many printers, my guess is you’ve spent very little time thinking about paper.
What many printers don’t realize is the huge difference the right paper can make in high-speed production inkjet—in terms of both print quality and the entire production process. Considering that paper is listed as a top compatibility challenge by printers who have already added inkjet equipment to their arsenal, it’s time for printers to consider paper earlier in the process to avoid delays, customer disappointments and major headaches.
To get an idea of what’s involved with selecting the right paper for high-speed production inkjet, we spoke Jeff Matos, Sr. Director of Print Operations at Broadridge to get his perspective.
As a leading provider of investor communications, technology-driven solutions, data/analytics to the financial services industry and the preferred solutions provider for the Fortune 500, Broadridge knows the benefits of production inkjet technology and paper selection.
Broadridge started printing on inkjet in 1999 in black only on the Scitex Press (which later became the Kodak Versamark). With over 100 presses across the country, Broadridge plans to one day completely transition to inkjet technology.
Jeff Matos cites going from black and white to color as one of the biggest transitions for Broadridge. “I made it a priority to educate myself first and then use that education to help my customers through the transition,” explains Matos, “As we moved to inkjet, we learned just how even more critical paper becomes in the overall equation of not just reproducing color, but making things work.”
Matos goes on to explain the critical role paper plays in high-speed inkjet printing, “I would say the importance of the paper and the impact [it can have] on the overall quality is something that might surprise some folks that are making the initial transition from offset to inkjet. In my experience paper can be the difference between either winning the job and getting the client or not. And that’s how critical a role it can play. Just by changing the paper you can have a significant up-tick in color gamut and a really nice “color pop.” You’ve got the same printer, same ink sets…just change the paper and you can completely change the look and, in some cases, the feel of the output.”
When choosing the right paper, most printers think in terms of cost and quality.
For inkjet papers in particular, Matos strongly feels availability should be a big concern, especially if your business specializes in high volume print runs. “Availability is a big one. I’ve had many a vendor come in here and try to sell me a paper they’re going to ship from another country. At my volume levels and the velocity of my business, I can’t afford any types of lapses in inventory or availability of the product. Having the manufacturer close to me with a very high level of partnership is a big consideration.”
Testing the paper is another important consideration when looking into high-speed production inkjet technology. For a printer to get the results they desire, linearization (the testing process used to identify the correct paper for the job, equipment and ink) is critical. And, as Matos warns, it’s not a step you can skip.
“If you don’t do the proper linearization, the machine can apply too much ink to the paper, creating different quality issues. Linearization helps to pair the correct amount of ink to lay down with your paper of choice, determining how much ink the paper is able to handle and ensuring they’re compatible.”
Although linearization is the testing process spoken about most often, Matos recommends testing throughout the entire process to ensure an end result that meets customer expectations. If post-processing is a part of your workflow, he recommends testing that process as well.
“Your paper can run great through the printer and the output looks amazing but then you put it on an inserter and then you can’t insert it. If the paper isn’t made for that type of post-processing, it can become very delicate.” Matos also advises testing your final printed pieces to determine how they will handle the rigors of mailing. “Mail out samples to your house to make sure that, when it gets to someone’s mailbox, it’s still going still look great,” advises Matos.
Jeff’s final words for implementing high-speed production inkjet? Be prepared. “Do your proper research because it’s a bigger jump than most people think. A lot of printers have implemented inkjet with great success so it can be appealing, but you have to make sure you do your homework.”