Choosing a paper stock for your digital printing project can be somewhat daunting, or enjoyable, depending on your outlook. With hundreds of varieties of sizes, weights, finishes and colors it can be tough making an informed decision about what will be the basis of your printed piece. Ultimately there are a few questions that clients need to answer in order to find a stock that not only works with CEC’s equipment but will also help to create an attractive, functional product.
- How will your printed piece be handled?
Always keep in mind the potential wear and tear that will be put on your paper of choice. Obviously, postcards that go through the mail system should be on a strong cover weight. Books that will be used daily in a classroom should be on a strong enough paper that the pages will be in tact by the end of the semester.
- How will it be bound?
Cover stocks are great for covers and cards. However, they can become annoying when used as the stock for the entire piece. For example, it may be nice to have a calendar with sturdy, cover-weight pages throughout, but if that calendar is saddle stitched, it can bulge when closed and will resist laying flat against the wall. All that cover stock makes for a heavy finished piece as well – maybe not ideal for hanging.
- Is the piece printing in black-ink only, or full color?
While it is possible to print a full color document on a colored paper stock, it is not recommended. In digital printing, unless all four colors – cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) – are used in relatively high percentages each, the resulting color is somewhat translucent. On a white stock, this is not a problem at all. When the stock is a colored however, the stock color will show through and have an adverse effect on the overall printed piece. For instance, a box that looked light blue printed on white paper will look more green when printed on yellow stock.
How spot colors can affect your decision
Very frequently we receive orders from clients requesting we try to match a specific spot color from the Pantone Matching System (PMS). While CEC does not print with spot inks as offset printers do, our digital color press can come very close on about 85% of the colors in the Pantone System. That said, our press is tuned to match the coated versions of the Pantone colors, when printed on coated paper. Given the right circumstances, we can come close on most uncoated variants of colors as well. The issue we run into occasionally is files set up using uncoated versions of Pantone colors running on coated stocks. For example, the client sets up their file using PMS 330U, an uncoated version of a color whose coated version our press can match accurately. But, they want the file to run on 100# Gloss stock, a coated stock. Chances are we can probably get to an acceptable result, but not nearly as easily as we could when using a PMS color on the type of stock it was designed for. This may sound obvious, but try to use spot colors calibrated to run on the finish of stock (coated, uncoated, matte) you plan to run the job on.
Our client service representatives are happy to help. If you need more information or help selecting a stock for an upcoming project, please contact us.