to buy paper
Paper is one of the key
ingredients needed to produce a quality printed piece.
Whether it is a letterhead, a brochure, poster, newsletter,
annual report or the day-to-day flow of information from
computer printer or copying machine, the best possible
vehicle is wanted to carry the message.
As with any purchase, it
is important to know as much as possible about what is being
bought to be sure it will be the best for the job. Factors
to consider when selecting paper include the papers
measurable physical characteristics as well as an assurance
of quality methods and materials used in its manufacture.
The buyer will also want information on competitive pricing
and on-time delivery schedules before deciding.
Establishing a good
relationship with the paper merchant is the best way to keep
in touch with the latest in printing techniques and papers,
plus anything else needed to know in making selections. The
following guidelines will not answer all questions, but are
helpful criteria to keep in mind when talking to the paper
is the paper to be used?
Let us consider the
printing method first. Papers are graded according to their
specific end-uses and will produce the best quality when
matched to the appropriate type of printer; e.g., office
copier, letterpress, flexographic, or offset. Do we need
reeled or sheet-fed paper? This, too, depends on the type of
press or printer ( I.e., reeled paper is used in web
printing; sheet paper is cut to standard sizes and fed
individually to press or copier machines ). Inks or toners
must mix with the paper colour and the final effect produced
must be sharp and clear.
Choose the degree of
surface smoothness depending on the ratio of copy to graphic
content, using anything from bond or vellum to high-gloss
finishes. Less gloss is easier to read, high gloss enables
better reproduction of photography. If designs include
embossing, a heavier weight will be needed to withstand the
impression used to raise the surface.
In bindery, folds should
be made with the grain of the paper, to avoid cracks or
roughness. Die-cuts to hold business cards must be in a
heavier weight, stuff enough paper to avoid tearing. Paper
weight is also a factor to consider when bulk quantities are
to be mailed, because of the added postage required.
characteristics should the paper possess?
characteristics for its ultimate use are determined by the
composition if its pulp and the way it is processed through
the paper making machinery. The following are important
terms relating to paper because they have a significant
bearing on the appearance of the paper and the ability to
print on it:
basis weight - paper weight is indicated in grammes
per square metre (gsm) per ream (500 sheets).
- affects the contrast between the sheet and the image
printed on it.
- thickness of the paper.
affects readability when certain coloured inks are printed
on various tints of stock.
Gloss- luster or
reflective finish of the paper, ranging from vellum
(dull) to high gloss.
papers classification based on its intended use (e.g.,
Bond-stationery; cover- brochure covers; Reprographic-
office copiers; Coated or Uncoated, Offset and Text- general
position of fibres in the sheet, usually parallel to the
paper machine on which it is produced. (printing and bindery
work better running with the grain of the paper.)
(RH- relative humidity)- should match that of the
pressroom, to avoid wavy or tight edges in the paper, which
could affect print quality and registration.
degree to which the paper prevents show through from
opposite side of printed page.
- measure of the surface texture of a paper, related to ink
coverage and resultant print quality possible ( e.g.,
smoother- more uniform ink coverage).
resistance- ability of paper to accept computer-
based imprinting and not to wear off or smear.
- tensile and tear properties important for such added
features as brochure pockets or die-cuts.
Attention to quality
control at every step of the paper making process is
essential. Research and development scientists and
technicians should have in-depth technical knowledge of
print production techniques and papers role in the
process. They should work with copier manufacturers and
printers to develop papers, which perform best for various
types of equipment. Careful selection and thorough testing
of all raw materials used in papermaking is another critical
factor. Paper makers should test their methods and materials
under simulated end-use conditions.
Of course, the buyer
wants to know that each time he orders paper it will be
consistent with the previous batch ordered. With the latest
computer-controlled machinery, all variables are
automatically checked to make sure the formula for each
grade of paper is matched precisely. Online scanners should
monitor paper characteristics, such as moisture content,
thickness and weight, throughout the process. Cutters should
trim paper to precise sizes. And, at the end of the line,
the paper should be packaged to protect it from the effects
of light and humidity. Manufacturing quality control
technicians should use computers to verify, warn, make
automatic adjustments and carry out their instructions. They
should perform visual inspections by taking samples off
finished paper rolls. They should make dozens of checks for
quality before the paper every leaves the plant.