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The Printing Experts: PTI's Blog

Busting Myths: Paper and Sustainable Forestry June 06 2017

Going Paperless is Not Necessarily Going Green May 22 2017

Ten Eco-Friendly Printing and Design Tips May 11 2017

  1. Consider eco-friendly design elements when designing your printed materials.
  2. Choose finished sizes for your printed materials that make the most efficient use of standard paper sizes. While bleeds (ink “bleeding: off the edge of the printed piece) may look nice they often increase the paper waste stream as larger sheet sizes are needed to produce the bleed effect.
  3. Minimize ink coverage by eliminating full bleeds or large solid ink areas if possible. Using less ink often means saving press time, paper and money.
  4. Print on recycled paper containing a minimum of 30% post-consumer waste.
  5. Use chlorine free papers when possible. Ask your printer what they are using to be sure.
  6. Request soy/vegetable based inks for offset printing or low VOC toner when printing digitally. Petroleum based inks contain carcinogens known to cause cancer.
  7. Avoid the use of metallic or fluorescent inks as these inks contain more harmful elements in the pigments including in some cases, heavy metals, barium, copper and zinc.
  8. Minimize page count for printed proceedings, handouts or event handbooks by placing presentation slides 3-up, 4-up or even 6-up per page and by printing on both sides of the sheet.
  9. Print on the lightest weight paper possible.
  10. Print only what you need. Consider a print on demand option if needed.

What You Need to Know About Barcode Printing Using Thermal Printers April 25 2017

If you’re printing barcode labels on a regular basis, you are most likely using a thermal printer (as opposed to laser, inkjet, or dot matrix, which are not optimized to produce high or lasting label printing quality). Thermal printers, engineered to produce crisp, clear, high quality barcodes, use one of two printing technologies: direct thermal or thermal transfer. Although the two printing methods are both used to produce barcodes, there’s a big difference between them and the labels that should be used with them.

thermal barcode printer

Direct thermal printers require a paper that is formulated for use with this technology. The paper is coated to react with the heat process. When the heated elements of the print head heat the direct thermal paper, the paper responds to the heat and produces an image where those elements contact it. It’s basically a chemical reaction of the dye coating on the paper that creates the, as opposed to depositing printing ink on top of the label. There is no ink or toner involved with direct thermal printing, which reduces the total cost of ownership of using this process. Direct thermal printers most often produce only black images but there are specialty direct thermal labels with a secondary dye color (usually red) that are available.

Thermal transfer prints with the use of a ribbon. Heat from the print head melts ink from the ribbon onto special thermal transfer paper or synthetic label media that is specially treated for thermal transfer use. The label media does not directly contact the print head, as the ribbon is between the print head and the thermal transfer media.

citizen thermal ribbon

The thermal transfer ribbon has a coating of wax, resin, or a combination of the two. When the heat from the print head is applied to the ribbon, the surface coating melts and adheres to the label, which cools quickly and produces an image that is more durable than those generated from direct thermal printers. The durability of the thermal transfer labels will depend partly on the selection of the ribbon and label media combination. Wax, which has a lower melting point than resin, is more subject to smudging, scratches, and damage. If you want the most lasting barcode labels, invest in a resin ribbon, or, at the very least, a wax/resin ribbon.

Unlike direct thermal printers, thermal transfer is not limited to one or two colors. For applications where you want to include more graphics (e.g., logo), the broader color options is a definite advantage to thermal transfer printing.

Printer comparison

There are advantages and disadvantages to both thermal transfer and direct thermal printers. The type you choose will depend on your priorities, including functionality, print quality, image durability, and cost of ownership.

Direct thermal printers are slightly more economical to own because they don’t require a ribbon and the label media is generally less expensive than thermal transfer ribbons and media. However, the cost savings is not a benefit if you require printing that is less sensitive to conditions like UV light, moisture, heat, smudging, scratches, and chemicals. The direct thermal media lower cost advantage is offset by shorter print head life, as the print head is not protected by a ribbon and the label media directly contacts the print head. The direct contact causes abrasion of the protective coating over the print head elements, which causes earlier print head failure compared to thermal transfer printing.  The imaging dye coating on direct thermal labels and paper is often insufficient to deliver lasting quality. The images will fade in the presence of sunlight or in the presence of high heat will turn completely black. You can, however, purchase direct thermal media that offers better protection, such as polypropylene, which is waterproof. Otherwise, special coatings only provide a limited degree of additional protection.

Thermal transfer printing has a somewhat higher total cost of ownership than direct thermal printers. You need to replace the thermal transfer printer ribbons, which aren’t required for direct thermal printing. The ribbons will vary in price, depending on whether you choose wax, wax/resin, or the high-end resin ribbons. Thermal transfer printing delivers high quality, lasting images that withstand heat, light, and extreme environmental conditions. You can also print with a wider array of colors, and on more types of media, such as synthetic films.

Before you make your decision on a barcode printer, consider your options, and the pros and cons of each thermal printing technology. If you need help, please contact us.

Tips for Submitting Print-Ready Files April 20 2017


indesignEvery printer differs based on their printing equipment and pre-press software (and type of printing chosen). Our team at PTI has come up with some helpful tips to share with your clients when producing print-ready files in-house.

We also offer FREE value-added design services through our design department. We can help you and your clients with solutions based on specifications, or design from scratch. 

What Is a PDF File?

PDF stands for portable document format. This format allows you to distill an InDesign, Photoshop or Illustrator file (and all the fonts and images you have used to create the file) into a format easily printable on any computer. If you’re producing low-resolution output on a desktop printer, it’s relatively seamless. But if you’re printing high-resolution images in cyan/magenta/yellow/black on an offset press, you need a more comprehensive approach.

That said, if you can create a successfully preflighted InDesign file that correctly addresses issues of color space, resolution, image usage, font usage, and such, and then distill this into a successfully preflighted PDF, your book printer’s likelihood of producing both a proof and a final print job that meet your expectations is very high. Or, at the very least, you will see the problems early when you review the proof. And you can be confident that a successfully output proof will ensure a successfully printed job.

In addition, since you can embed the fonts in a PDF, you do not need to hand off your fonts to your printer. Also, your printer is less likely to encounter font substitution problems that would adjust (or totally move around) the text on your pages.

However, to be safe, it’s always good to send your printer a hard-copy proof to which he can “reconcile” the PDF and final job (i.e., something physical to match).

Keep in mind that a PDF will not improve anything in your initial InDesign file. If the photos are not of sufficient resolution, the PDF will not sharpen them. It won’t brighten photos or fix anything else. It will only allow for a smoother transition of your art files from your computer to your book printer’s computer.

Now the bad news is also the good news. You can only do limited editing to a PDF file. This means that when you hand off PDF files to your printer, if you find problems on the proof, you will have to correct the files in InDesign, distill them again into revised PDFs, and then hand these off to your printer for revised proofs. The good news is that there is very little that can change in the files you hand off to your printer (compared to native files), so you have almost complete assurance that your proofs will look exactly like your submitted files. (This is not the case when you hand off native files.)


Variables/Issues to Consider

Here’s a short list of issues you will need to consider (and that you may need to address when distilling files from your own InDesign projects). The best way to ensure success is to request the printer’s “guidelines” document for creating PDFs for offset print output. This document will make your life much easier (it will tell you what options to select for your printer’s specific workflow software), and it will make your printer’s life much easier (because your files will work smoothly).

    1. Document size.
    2. Bleeds (usually .125” or more).
    3. Margins. (It’s usually best not to put anything—type or images—closer than .25” from the trim.)
    4. Color space. (Make sure the job is CMYK or black only, not RGB. Convert spot colors to process colors, or ask your printer how to specify spot colors.)
    5. Crop marks.
    6. Transparency (with or without flattening). If this doesn’t make sense, ask your printer.
    7. Fonts. Embed them in the PDF. If they can’t be embedded (due to font licensing issues), ask your printer for a work-around.
    8. Image resolution. Use photos that are at least 300 dpi at the final size.
    9. Number of pages. Send either the whole book as one PDF or as several PDFs with a range of pages for each. Label accordingly. (Discuss with your printer.)
    10. Unused colors. If you have defined colors and then decided not to use them, delete them from your color palette. Never use “Registration” or “Auto” as a color. These will not output correctly (in some cases all type and imagery may show up on all printing plates).
    11. Preflight both the native file (before distilling the PDF) and the newly created PDF to catch all errors before submitting the PDF to the book printer.
    12. Only use “rich blacks” (a combination of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black) for solids and area screens, but never for type. (It would be too difficult to closely register four printing plates for small type while holding detail in the type serifs.)

Discuss these issues with your printer. Remember, different printers have different requirements.

Extra Screens to Address

In InDesign, for instance, there are five computer screens of information to address when creating PDF files. In most cases these will involve only a few checkmarks (on-screen) based on your printer’s needs. They are called: “General,” “Compression,” “Marks & Bleeds,” “Output,” and “Advanced.” It is also wise to check “The Appearance of Black” in the Preferences window.

Final Thoughts

You can do this successfully. All is takes is study, practice, and communication with your printer. After you do it once, you’ll know exactly what questions to ask, so you can set up your files in the best way for his particular computer prepress system.

What You Need to Know About Digital Printing April 12 2017

PTI digital printingAs there are a variety of printing methods to choose from, and knowing which one will best meet your needs can be difficult. It often comes down to a choice between offset and digital printing. To help you determine whether digital is the right choice for you, we’ve put together a list of important facts you should know when designing and printing.

  • Generally, you should use digitally certified papers to ensure that the finished product is of the quality that you desire. Some printers will use non-certified stocks, which is completely up to them.
Print Quality
  • Improvements in digital printing means similar results to the offset method can be produced. In the past, if you wanted premium quality you had to go with offset – this is no longer the case.
  • You'll find that the digital process is a much simpler process when compared to offset. Without the need for plates and mixing inks, the final print can be delivered significantly faster.
Cost Effective
  • As the setup costs are much lower than traditional printing, with a very low minimum (usually 250) and no plate costs, you’ll find that digital is fairly cost effective. Some machines are also capable of doing inline finishing, so costs are further reduced.
  • Basically, you can tailor your message to your audience. If you’re doing a mail drop, you can have each individual envelope addressed correctly or personalized with the recipient's name.
Short Runs
  • This process is ideal for printing small to medium quantities (generally 250 units and upwards). The cost of offset printing often means that these lower quantities are too expensive.
  • Some machines even have the ability to print special effects, including: white ink, special Pantone colors, raised ink (like an emboss effect), and UV red invisible ink that becomes visible under ultraviolet light.
Last Minute
  • The good news is that this method can be completed "on demand", which is ideal for last minute jobs. You also have the ability to make last minute changes at the time of printing through the computer.

On top of all this, there are many other reasons why digital printing can be the preferable option, including the ability to tweak colors on the press and to do long runs with ease. No matter what, just ensure that you have selected the right method for your desired outcome. If you’re unsure which printing method will best meet your needs, feel free to contact us.

Coated Side In vs. Coated Side Out Ribbon March 16 2017

Thermal transfer label ribbons are either coated side in (CSI) or coated side out (CSO). This is referring to the side of the ribbon that the ink sits on. The way to tell which side is coated is by unwinding the ribbon past the outer wrap. Once you reach the black ribbon, you will see that one side is shiny and one side has a more matte finish. The duller side is the side with the ink. This is the side that should face the labels when you put the thermal transfer ribbon on the ribbon spindle. Depending on the specific thermal transfer printer that you have, you will either use one or the other. The only difference between an ink-in ribbon and and ink-out ribbon is the direction that the thermal ribbon is wound.

Ribbon Threaded with the Coated Side In

Coated Side In

  • Some printers require a CSI ribbon. Examples are Sato and Datamax printers.
  • If your printer requires ribbon with coated side in, you will have to set up your ribbon similarly to the diagram on the right.
  • Since the ink is coated on the inside of the ribbon, configure the ribbon so that it unrolls from the top.
  • When it feeds around the print head, the ink will be facing the label.
  • If you set this up backwards, the ink will be facing the print head instead of the labels, and the printing will not work.

Label Ribbon Threaded with the Coated Side Out

Coated Side Out

  • Other printers require a CSO ribbon. Examples are Intermec printers, Zebra printers, and some Datamax printers.
  • If your printer requires ribbon with coated side out, set up your ribbon like the diagram on the right.
  • Since the ink is coated on the outside of the ribbon, configure the ribbon so that it unrolls from the bottom.
  • When it feeds around the print head, the ink will still be facing the label.
Thermal printing uses heat technology to print. It is one of the most popular printing methods on the market today. Thermal printing requires the correct combination of printer ribbons and the actual printer itself. The ribbons to choose from are:
  • Wax Thermal Ribbons
  • Wax-Resin Thermal Ribbons
  • Resin-Based Thermal Transfer Ribbons

Contact us to order the right thermal transfer ribbon for your application(s).

6 Common Trouble-shooting Tips: Zebra Printer Thermal Transfer Ribbons March 06 2017

Problem Resolution
Ribbon Out Error
  • If you are not using ribbon make sure both the printer and software/driver are configured for Direct Thermal

  • Verify the ribbon is correctly loaded and fully pushed on to the Ribbon Supply spindle to assure it passes over the Ribbon Sensor when the printhead is closed.  

  • Verify the ribbon sensor is properly calibrated for the ribbon being used. Perform a calibration procedure 

  • Try Defaulting and verify printer has calibrated correctly 
  • If using colored ribbons and normal adjustments fail to allow proper function then review this document. 
Ribbon In Error
  • The printer is detecting ribbon but configured for Direct Thermal (no ribbon mode). Change the LCD Print Mode to Thermal Transfer if using ribbon or if using Direct Thermal remove the ribbon. Verify the driver/software settings match the printer settings.
  • The sensor is not calibrated properly. Perform a calibration procedure 


Ribbon Wrinkle

  • Verify the ribbon is loaded correctly 

  • Verify the media guides are properly set to keep the media from wandering away from the inner guides 

  • Adjust the head pressure to assure the pressure is balanced across the media. 

  • Try increasing the Ribbon Supply Spindle tension. 

  • Verify the media and ribbon combination is appropriate
Not detecting a ribbon out condition
  • Verify the ribbon is loaded correctly 

  • The sensor is not calibrated properly. Perform a calibration procedure 

  • If using colored ribbons and normal adjustments fail to allow proper function then review this document. 
Ribbon Breaking or Tearing
  • Verify the ribbon is loaded correctly 

  • Reduce the darkness setting in the LCD Display and driver/software
  • Verify your media and ribbon combination is compatible so the burn temperature does not have to be set too high
Ribbon Stalling
  • Verify the inked side of the ribbon is facing the labels 

  • Decrease the Ribbon Supply Spindle tension setting it to low. 

  • Increase the head pressure to assure the pressure is balanced across the media. 

  • Decrease the darkness and verify the media and ribbon combination is appropriate for the application

Your Guide to Selecting the Right Thermal Labels February 15 2017

barcode thermal label printingA direct thermal printer is commonly used for printing barcodes on labels, but to get the best quality printing, you need to be sure you start with the right labels. Here’s a buyer’s guide to understanding direct thermal printer labels to get you started.

Direct thermal printing technology requires a specific type of specially coated direct thermal label. Unlike thermal transfer, which uses a ribbon to transfer the image to paper, the direct thermal printing process applies heat directly to the heat-sensitive paper. The heat activates a chemical reaction that causes the image to appear. There is no ink, ribbon, or toner involved, which makes direct thermal printing slightly more affordable than thermal transfer.

Direct thermal printing was originally designed for use in photocopiers and fax machines about 50 years ago. Since those early days, both the technology and paper—remember those curly faxes?—have been vastly improved.

How direct thermal printing works

A direct thermal printer contains a thermal printhead with hundreds of heating elements. Each element is electronically controlled to emit the right amount of heat (thermal energy) in a specific location during the printing process. The more saturated the image, the longer the image will last under various conditions.

The problem is that you can’t easily see the difference between a fully saturated direct thermal printout and a less saturated one. The saturation depends on a combination of the particular direct thermal label and the print setting you choose. Setting “Default” on your printer isn’t necessarily the solution. And adjusting the printer’s heat energy settings without knowing the correct one can damage the print head.

Remember that the temperature in the area where you are printing your direct thermal labels is not necessarily equal to where those labels might end up. If you’ve ever left a receipt produced by a direct thermal printer in a hot car, you know that some thermal papers are highly sensitive to heat and light because that piece of paper turned black. The paper reacts to the heat in your vehicle in the same way it responds to the heat from the print head; it activates a chemical reaction. In this case, the entire paper turned black.
Choosing the right direct thermal labels

But not all direct thermal labels are created equal. The sensitivity level—to heat, light, chemicals, moisture, and abrasion—varies from one paper to the next, depending on the chemistry used. You will have many choices of combinations of facestock and coatings for direct thermal labels, including fade resistance when exposed to higher temperatures, UV light, water, and environmental conditions (which is key if your barcode labels will be used outdoors).

The coating on good quality direct thermal labels will also protect the printer itself. Not only will it provide the necessary resistance, but a good protective coating will also reduce the wear on the print head and won’t leave debris or residue from the coating on the print head.

The best option to ensure a fully saturated output from your direct thermal printer is to stick with the direct thermal labels specified by your vendor for use with your particular equipment. The printer manufacturer will probably recommend which heat setting is best for direct thermal labels. Choosing a lesser quality label material could mean that your label image doesn’t last, which could cause a problem if you’re using your direct thermal labels for anything that needs to withstand exposure to some of the elements mentioned here. Be sure to communicate that to your label supplier.

If you need more information about or help with choosing the best direct thermal labels for your printer and applications, please contact us.

The Many Uses of Direct Thermal Labels February 09 2017

healthcare barcode thermal labelsBarcoding is an amazing technology. With just a seemingly simple array of lines, you can communicate a vast amount of information that is encoded on even the tiniest direct thermal labels that are often used for barcode printing. Hospitals use barcoded wristbands for patient safety, to provide critical information to their healthcare providers with just one quick scan of the barcode. Manufacturing uses these symbols to code information about a product or part. Retailers use barcodes to easily scan merchandise for pricing and to automatically update inventory. Produce suppliers now include barcoded direct thermal labels on fresh foods so that the sources can be traced in the event of a problem. Virtually, every industry has deployed barcoding in some facet in order to streamline data collection.

warehouse thermal labelsBarcode label printing is usually done via either thermal transfer or direct thermal printing. Because direct thermal printing is somewhat less expensive and provides a good solution for many applications, you might discover that the economy and functions are ideal for your applications.

With so many and varied uses for direct thermal barcoding, a number of label choices have been developed. While direct thermal labels are limited to one- or two-color printing, there are still many uses for them. Whether you’re labeling an avocado or a pallet, you can find direct thermal labels that are designed and formulated to suit your needs. The facestock, size, shape, die cut, and adhesive choices can be combined in many ways. At PTI, we also specialize in custom labels, so if you can’t find an off-the-shelf product, we can easily and affordably produce either a special type or preprinted direct thermal labels for you.

Direct thermal labels are ideal for short-term use—up to months or even one year depending on the individual direct thermal label you choose—or for items that are kept indoors, away from direct sunlight, such as in retail environments and for visitor passes. Because the direct thermal printing process is not resistant to high amount of UV light, heat, abrasion, or moisture, it can be prone to fading, smudging, scratching, or even turning completely black. Take that into consideration when choosing your label printing method.

With the right direct thermal dye and/or protective coating on your direct thermal labels, you can reduce the harmful effects of some exposures. Polypropylene direct thermal labels, for example, use the synthetic substrate to create a waterproof label. This type of label can be used in various ways, including labeling fish and meat, which have short-term use but require refrigeration. Foods that are not frozen or refrigerated are often marked with direct thermal labels with a removable adhesive. Items with a shorter shelf life, like bakery products and deli meats can also benefit from the cost-effective application of direct thermal labels.

Shipping and tracking labels, which have short-term use, are also ideally suited for direct thermal printing. Warehouses frequently utilize direct thermal labels for printing pick tickets and tote labels. If they are using preprinted forms, they print direct thermal labels with product, shipping, return, or warranty.

Direct thermal labels are available in rolls or fan-folded, which could allow you to print more labels at one time before reloading the media.

Direct thermal printing offers some cost savings over thermal transfer and could be the right solution for your barcoding needs. Talk to us at PTI to learn about your options for direct thermal labels.

How to Maintain Your Thermal Printers and Printheads January 25 2017

Thermal printers are manufactured to generate crisp, clear images and text in high volume environments. Properly maintaining the printer is critical to ensuring that your printer continues to generate high quality images and text.

There are two main types of thermal printers.

  • Direct thermal printers generate the desired printed image by heating coated thermal stock. A printhead is used to apply the heat in the desired shape for text or images, turning the paper black where heated.
  • Thermal transfer printers print by melting a coating of thermal ink onto the paper. Here too, a printhead is used to apply heat to a thermal transfer ribbon, melting the ink in the desired pattern and depositing it onto the paper’s surface.

Maintenance of Thermal Printers

There are a number of factors that an impact the performance of your printer – humidity, dust, heat, wear on the printhead and printer components, and the quality of the thermal transfer ribbons and paper stock used when printing. It’s important to keep the printer’s environment as clean as possible and to use high quality supplies and materials for the best results.

The most critical element to ensure clear, high quality printing is the performance of the printhead. If it is dirty, clogged, worn or abraded, the quality of the printed product will degrade. Cleaning and maintaining the printhead will extend the useful life of the printhead, and your printer. And, as printheads are expensive, maintaining it and extending its useful life will result in cost savings for your operation. Some maintenance tips are:

  • Clean the printer frequently to remove dust and residue from paper, foils, and the environment. It is recommended that the printer be cleaned two to three times a week in moderate use operations.
  • Clean the printhead to remove ink residue, paper dust, or coating residue to prevent streaking and incomplete printing. Cleaning will also help prevent clogs which can permanently damage the printhead. Printheads should be cleaned when the thermal transfer ribbon or thermal transfer label roll is changed. As the printheads (and rollers) are fragile, you should avoid touching them anywhere expect on the edges and use only approved cleaners. The most common methods for cleaning printheads are using isopropyl alcohol wipes or swabs or cleaning cards.
    • Isopropyl alcohol cleans the printhead, dissolving any residue without leaving residue from the cleaner. It’s important to make sure that the alcohol fully evaporates (dries) before using the printer.
    • Cleaning cards clean the printhead and remove any build-up on the rollers. They should be used for periodic cleaning, as they can abrade the printheads and rollers, damaging them.
    • Some thermal transfer ribbons have built-in printhead cleaners, providing continuous cleaning and maintenance for the printhead.
  • Replace printheads that have become worn or abraded.

Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations for your printer, including regular preventative maintenance. Periodic inspections of the equipment can identify potential issues before they become problems and can minimize downtime while reducing the cost of repairs and service and, most importantly, extending the life of your thermal printer.

PTI carries a supply of thermal transfer ribbons, and labels for a wide range of thermal transfer and direct thermal printers. We are known for the quality of the printer supplies we carry and our stock and custom labels for thermal printers. Our customer service representatives are available to help you with your label needs – and to ensure that we meet or exceed your expectations.

PermTherm: What is it, and what are the benefits? October 31 2016

In a nutshell, PermTherm is a direct thermal film with thermal transfer attributes. 

PermTherm is a printable polyolefin film that provides an innovative substrate for thermal printing, replacing both traditional Direct Thermal (DT) substrates and the use of Thermal Transfer Ribbons (TTR). Sharp, durable, fade-proof images are created on PermTherm using standard thermal/barcode printers.

Key Features

No ribbons. No coatings. Exceptional performance.

Innovative PermTherm film revolutionizes thermal / barcode printing  with a user-friendly and cost-effective design that displays exceptional resistance  to heat, UV light, water and chemicals.

  • Image permanence, with no image fade from heat, light or time.
  • Image is UV light-resistant, and is estimated to last 18 months outdoors.
  • Unlike Direct Thermal (DT) technology, there is no pre-imaging; film is heat-stable for any period of time, up to 130˚C (266˚F).
  • Print surface and printed image are not affected by water. Volatile solvents such as IPA, Xylene and some household solvents do not irreversibly darken the print surface or printed image.
  • Durability is comparable to Thermal Transfer (TT) films using wax/resin ribbons.


PermTherm can be used for pressure-sensitive labels, tickets and tags, and point-of-sale applications. It is ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications, where chemical or water resistance is required.

  • Nursery tags & labels
  • Pharmaceutical labels
  • Price tags & labels
  • Chemical labels
  • Office products - binder labels
  • Retail apparel tags & labels
  • Medical labels / medical graphing
  • Consumer products
  • Meat/food packaging
  • Industrial, plumbing fixtures, parts
  • Logistics, inventory, shipping, warehouse, pallet labels
  • Variable tracking data
  • Retail shelf marking

Labels, Tags and Stickers? They're the Same, Right? October 11 2016

Sometimes the terms label, tag, and sticker are used interchangeably. This isn’t usually a problem, but it’s a common misnomer that’s ages old. We always help to clarify what our customers mean to ensure they’re getting the right product.

To eliminate any confusion (and to make you a label savvy rockstar), here are some helpful definitions to differentiate between the three terms:








custom printed labels

Labels are die-cut plastics, papers, metals, or other materials that can be affixed to containers or surfaces. Labels carry information, and they may be created specifically for that type of surface. 

Tags are labels without adhesive. They’re attached by other means, such as tying or hanging. Sometimes an adhesive just won’t work for a specific application. 

Stickers are commodity markers that are mostly used for entertainment purposes. These include things like “I Just Voted” or “My Name Is”. They’re usually paper, not very durable, and made in large quantities since they are not expensive to produce.

We specialize in custom printed thermal labels, tags, tickets and rolls. Contact us for a quote today!

    What's the Difference Between Prime Labels and Secondary Labels? September 21 2016

    Prime Labels vs. Secondary Labels – What's the Difference?

    On demand product label printing brings new terms to understand and choices to make. One of the most important choices involves selecting the right label printer for the task. For example, do you need to print prime labels or secondary labels?

    Prime labels vs secondary labels

    What are Prime Labels?

    Prime labels are featured prominently on the front of a product. They become an important part of the product and its branding. As such, prime labels are richly detailed with superior text and graphic design elements. They're typically printed in full color on high quality label stock.

    Prime labels appear on the front of wine bottles, gourmet food jars, bags of coffee beans, and any number of products. They're designed to reinforce the brand, appeal to consumers, and entice consumers to buy. Because label stock and graphic design quality are vital in producing prime labels, manufacturers often use commercial printers or invest in high resolution, "on demand" color label printers such as Primera LX900, LX810, and LX400 printers.

    Prime labels custom printing

    What are Secondary Labels?

    Secondary labels are also applied to products, typically on the carton or packaging. These labels usually serve a secondary purpose such as providing nutritional information on the back of a food product. Secondary labels are used in manufacturing and industrial environments as well. For example, secondary labels are used on inventory, supplies, equipment, samples, boxes, mailers, and other items. Manufacturers of items such as hardware, utensils, and supplies often label their carton boxes with secondary labels containing product details, barcodes, and black and white or grayscale graphics. 

    In many cases, especially in industrial applications, secondary labels are the only labels used. Grocery stores often apply secondary labels to food items created or packaged in-house such as on bakery items or meat from the butcher counter.

    barcode labels

    Think of the two label types in terms of form versus function. Prime labels serve as form and branding; they are highly visual. Secondary labels provide functional details such directions, sizing information, care instructions, nutritional information, part numbers, patient information, shipping addresses, and so on; they are highly functional. Due to their utilitarian nature, they may be printed in black ink only with limited graphical elements. Black thermal printers are often used for printing secondary labels because they are fast and inexpensive. Industrial label printers produce fast, low resolution labels that are durable and do not smudge and smear.

    At PTI, we specialize in custom printed thermal label products. We bring prime labels to life. Our FREE design and layout services set us apart from other manufacturers, because we have the application expertise and "know how" to create highly effective designs best suited for any application. 


    Why Print is Green May 20 2016

    Mother Nature clearly celebrates the cycles of life--the Earth twirls every 24 hours, for example, and travels once around the sun every year. For years now, we in the printing industry have been working with her, considering life cycles in everything we do, from what we print on to how we deliver it. 

    Many of her best materials arise organically, and so do ours--the chief ingredient in paper grows on tress (well, they are trees) and more so every day, we're basing our inks and toners on fruits and vegetables. 

    Likewise, she doesn't so much discard as reuse, and so do we: most of the material from trees that doesn't become paper becomes power, and we both generate and use more renewable power than just about everyone. And more of our products are recycled than just about anything.

    We take these steps not because they make us look good, though we hope they do, and not just because they make economic sense, although they clearly do. Here are 10 best ways we show it. 

    Ten Reasons Why Print is Green 

    1. We consider the source

    We're careful to ensure that the paper and printing products we use originated responsibly. 

    For instance, we rely on forest-certification programs such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), which dominate in North America, and the Euro-centric Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certifications. 

    All three promote forests' long-term health by minimizing damage during harvesting, preserving habitat and biodiversity, preventing overcutting, and other efforts. Safeguards include chain-of-custody certifications, verified by third parties that document the origin of materials at every stage of the manufacturing process. 

    Meanwhile, inks and toners increasingly are based on fruit or vegetable oils, removing the volatile organic compounds of their former base, petroleum, while making them far more renewable. 

    2. We're mad for recycling 

    And why not? Every reused paper fiber is a double bonus for the planet: using recycled fiber contributes less to air pollution than virgin fiber, and fibers kept from landfills don't release methane, one of the most damaging greenhouse gases. Plus, the processing of recycled fibers into paper consumes fewer chemicals and less water. 

    Of the fiber that went into paper in 2007, more than a third came from recycling, even though the demand for newsprint, a key destination for reused fiber, has slowed considerably. In 2008, more than 57 percent of paper consumed in the U.S. was recovered for recycling, more than any material. 

    The paper industry is aiming to reach 60 percent recycling by 2012; every additional percentage point means that a million tons of paper are recovered. According to the EPA, paper is recycled at significantly higher rates than any other material. (Glass: 24 percent. Plastic: 7 percent). 

    We have promoted recycling practically since its beginning. The Direct Marketing Association and the Magazine Publishers of America both lead "Recycle Please" campaigns, and the American Forest and Paper Association promotes a number of others. 

    Among them are AF&PA's Paper Recycles effort, which awards outstanding school, business, and community recycling programs; and Recyclemania, a higher-education recycling competition that involved more than 500 schools from every state in 2009. The association has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency and the Keep American Beautiful campaign since 2003. 

    For us, recycling goes well beyond paper, too. Most parts of the tree are used as renewable energy if not to make paper. Manufacturers and printers recycle printing plates, ink and toner canisters, shrink wrap, cardboard, the cores of large paper rolls, and even shipping pallets.

    3. We work well with others  

    There's reusing, and then there's never using, a notion we continue to capitalize on with our business partners, as well as among ourselves. We've wrung barrels of petroleum from our processes by shipping proofs electronically instead of by overnight express, for example. With "distribute and print," finished jobs can be printed locally instead of delivered as freight, and "print on demand," means customers can order and print only as needed--reducing print overruns, waste, and unneeded warehousing. 

    Using postal-address verification and managing lists, we're also collaborating with customers to ensure that more of our work reaches just the people who want it. DMAchoice, a service of the Direct Marketing Association, lets customers choose the types of mail and e-mail they want to receive. 

    Meanwhile, tools like Metafore's Environmental Paper Assessment Tool help both buyers and sellers of paper assess environmental attributes and trade-offs. Such tools consider sources, transportation, manufacturing methods, and other factors for broader sustainability assessment. 

    4. We're green by design 

    Design plays a crucial role in determining print's environmental effects. Responsible designers incorporate life-cycle considerations into every design choice, and use their creativity to capitalize on environmentally friendly options such as specifying elemental chlorine-free paper, low-VOC inks, and recycle materials. 

    Designers can also choose inks that are free of heavy metals or lighter in tone or intensity when a project is likely to be recycled, and forgo surface coatings for projects envisioned for shorter life spans. 

    In fact, responsible designers partner with printers that have robust sustainability portfolios, consult with them on best practices, collaborate with them for the most cost effective and efficient layouts for reducing waste, and assess results to guide future projects. 

    5. We care about the climate and forests

    In its efforts to breathe and be cool, the planet has no greater friend than trees, and trees have no greater friend than print. Sure, we harvest trees, but we plant them too--on average, 5 million trees are planted every day in the U.S.

    In the U.S. during the first half of this decade, 400,000 acres were added annually to cultivation, much of it managed for sustainability. That growth has sequestered an additional 53 million tons of CO2 during that time. Worldwide, 12 million more acres are forested today than 20 years ago.  

    6. We clean up after ourselves 

    We have worked hard to reduce our impact on the environment. Consulting with the Department of Energy, American Forest and Paper Association members have achieved a double-digit reduction in greenhouse gas intensity; since 1980, they've reduced emissions of nitrogen oxides by 43 percent and sulfur dioxide by 72 percent. 

    Print providers have also made great strides in eliminating volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to harmful ozone formation in the atmosphere. 

    7. We're picky about our power 

    Less than 10 percent of U.S. power comes from renewable sources, but in the pulp and paper industry, that figure is greater than 60 percent. 

    We're also leading users of cogeneration, which produces both electricity and heat from the same unit of energy. In 2005, virtually all pulp-mill energy came via this method, and about two-thirds of its fuel was renewable biomass--the parts of the tree not suited for papermaking. Both the EPA and the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change consider this energy to be carbon neutral. This summer, the largest U.S. cogeneration project in a decade will come on line--for a Washington mill. 

    In addition, some printers are frequent buyers of renewable-energy certificates. These certificates--which represent power generated by wind, hydro, solar, or biomass--support growth of renewable energy producers. 

    8. We're community oriented 

    More than 300,000 American small businesses--mom and pop shops, your neighborhood florist, the coffee shop on the corner--rely on advertising mail to reach their neighbors. More than 3.5 million American jobs are directly or indirectly supported by print advertising mail. 

    The U.S. Forest Service says that two-thirds of wood harvested for pulp and paper each year comes from relatively small, family-owned wood lots. The vast majority of these family forests are less than 50 acres in size. Many of the jobs connected to the harvesting are often in rural areas where employment options are scarce. 

    9. We compare well to others 

    Every type of media has an environmental impact, and ours compares favorably to anyone's.

    According to the Department of Energy, U.S. paper manufacturers used more than 75 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity in 2006, which is a lot, but a substantial portion of our energy is renewable. Compare that with the 60 billion kilowatt-hours that data centers and servers used that year, primarily from burned fossil fuels--and that doesn't even include the energy that PCs use. 

    The average person's paper use for a year--440 pounds--is produced by 500 kilowatt-hours of electricity, the amount to power one computer continuously for 5 months. 

    Daily news followers who read the print paper use 20 percent less CO2 than those who read news on the Web for a half hour. 

    Meanwhile, consider the environmental footprint of spam: a study commissioned by the Internet security software company, MacAfee, estimated it wastes 33 billion kilowatt-hours annually, with the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars using 2 billion gallons of gasoline. 

    And while we grow trees to get our raw materials, electronics manufacturers need heavy metals. Recycling electronics has toxic implications whether it happens here or is shipped overseas. 

    Producers of all media--internet, digital media, and print on paper--can work together to decrease the environmental impact of communication. 

    10. We help preserve natural resources 

    From high school, everyone knows that trees clean carbon dioxide from the air. However, forests also protect water by filtering pollutants, regulating flow, and by other natural processes. Forests also impede erosion, protect coastlines, provide habitat for wildlife, and promote the biological diversity on which all life depends. 

    In the mid-1990s, paper manufacturers needed 65 percent less water to make a ton of paper than we did about two decades earlier. The water that is still needed ends up 70 percent cleaner that it did in 1974, even though paper production more than doubled during that time. 

    Article from: catalogmailers.org | http://www.catalogmailers.org/clubportal/clubdocs/2129/The%20Print%20Council_%20why%20print%20is%20green.pdf


    2015 Hot Print Markets Analysis: Target Verticals That Fit Your ‘Sweet Spot’ February 28 2015

    We ran across this article in Printing Impressions (piworld.com), and we thought it would be helpful information for our distributors and resellers who are looking for niche markets with increasing opportunities for printing business. 

    This year is a turning point for print with a slight increase in nominal revenues to US$196B (+<2 percent). Low interest rates and commodity prices from an artificially high dollar will appear to stimulate the entire economy before the reality of global imbalances between levels of debt, equities and commodities carry us into the next downturn and something not experienced in 70 years: a currency re-set. Print managements should concentrate in sectors that will be least impacted, and again broaden offerings with multi-channel content and distribution, advocating print as a large and essential part of the mix.

    Packaged Foods ($1.233T, +5 percent; with $17.4B to print, +2 percent) will slim down over-extended “brand-widths.” Fewer offerings and less shelf space will disappoint late arrivals to this slowing down, No. 1 buyer of both print packaging and advertising materials. The only segments fattening up are fresh packaged (+8 percent) and pet foods (+7 percent). Roll flexo will be appetizing for variable-shrink, portion-control, aseptic, water-soluble and even edible packaging, while static stacked litho labels and cartons go stale. Increasingly, foreign producers are locating here bringing exotic new-category brands. These will “offset” attritions among the traditional food firms. Digitally-produced containers with local personalization, anti-tampering features and in-line formation will be practical and cost-effective for premium products in upscale markets. Nestlé Co. US (+14 percent) is best positioned in this sector.

    Overlapping are No. 8 Beverages ($488B, -3 percent; with $10.5B to print, 0 percent) and No. 11 Food Service ($910B, +6 percent; with $7.0B to print, +13 percent). Drinks are leaking across all categories except teas and coffees (+4 percent). Starbucks (+16 percent) and Keurig Green Mountain (+14 percent) alone will perk up print at nearly US$0.5B during 2015. Mainstreamdistilled/fermented beverages (0 percent) are sobering to a decline in per-capita consumption to less than 2 gal./year. Oregon is the big 1.32-times exception, thanks to its largest-in-the-United States concentration of micro-breweries.

    The so-called Big-Beer-3 are aggressively swigging up “craft” brands among the 2,800 independents whose local sourcing of labels, cartons, closures and promotional items will gradually tap out.

    Pepsico (+12 percent) is best positioned to re-carbonate the soft drinks (-2 percent) segment with mid-to-low-calorie platforms in its juice and water brands, and by introducing more craft sodas and protein-infused beverages. Coca-Cola (-4 percent) is losing the most fizz as carelessly acquired drink brands go flat. Therefore, Coke’s regional bottlers will be taking control of brand and promotion allocations to the benefit of nearby printers with large-format litho, digital, screen and diecutting/assembly. Red Bull (+9 percent), with 1/50th of the beverage space, will continue as the largest buyer of everywhere-held, event-related merchandise and signage.

    FDA anti-obesity rules, part of Obamacare, will require most of the one million eating places to provide calorie and additional nutrition information on menus, menu boards, foods on display, take-away circulars, drive-through signage, etc., before Dec. 15, 2015. Every printer can wait-on this sector, especially full-serve dining, taverns and clubs (+11 percent) as all digest the 395-page (yes, no typo) document. Get a copy!

    In the fast foods/casual dining (+5 percent) category, McDonald’s (-5 percent) and others will pare back the number of standard items, but offer more customization for local tastes. Swallowing the Chipotle (+18 percent) model for fresh food quality, Mickey D’s 22 regional managers will be more autonomous in advertising decisions as well—tasty for smaller situated shops. The combo of Tim Hortons (+10 percent) and Burger King (+3 percent), after regulatory approvals, will brew, bake and fry up $0.1B in heatset web FSIs, in-store consumables and OOH signage, all of which will be co-branded.

    No. 2 Medical/Pharma ($539B, +7 percent; with $15.5B to print, +4 percent) will return to vigor, while No. 7-ranked Health Providers ($3.545T, +<4 percent; with $10.6B to print, +4 percent) continue to suffer from regulatory malaise. Tamper-proof paper packaging will be the cure for pharma (+6 percent), long criticized for non-recoverable packaging. As no big pharma company grew in the last two years, 2015 is the recovery. Pfizer (+3 percent) will be buying pieces of competitors instead of selling parts of itself, and return—as all in the category must—to developing new drugs. Best positioned for print will be Glaxo Smithkline (+12 percent) as it surpasses Johnson & Johnson (+6 percent) in over-the-counter (OTC) products.

    Most profound in healthcare is 3D printing, for which we as an industry must set up practice or otherwise perish. Ordered deposits of synthetic substrates and specific function inks are layered or weaved in-and-out of plane, much like a spider lays silk to create its web. Human and animal parts replacement will be the new medicine, eventually replacing chemical palliatives. Print, in this evolution, will rise to life though, to many, will fall on dead ears!

    A record number of hospitals (+4 percent) will be merged into the largest 75 groups, which already hold a 1/3rd share. Community Health Systems (+22 percent) will integrate over 100 facilities in 2015, followed by HCA (+7 percent), UHS (+5 percent) and Tenet (+8 percent,) with dozens more. Name changes mean wellness for all graphics from scrips to signs.

    No. 17 Personal Care ($433B, +6 percent; with $5.7B to print, +7 percent) is long overdue for a makeover that will be pretty for print. Procter & Gamble (0 percent) will shed dozens of slow- or no-growth brands in color cosmetics, hair and skincare and fragrances (+6 percent). Coty (-2 percent), Unilever (-5 percent) and other acquirers will re-brand these lines with changed packaging and promotional print. From vanity to virus scares, Reckitt Benckiser (+12 percent), along with Kimberly-Clark (+8 percent) and Henkel (+7 percent), will clean up in hygiene/sanitary/household products (+9 percent) while also re-packaging and upping in-store displays.

    Many retail pharmacies (+16 percent) will soon offer testing, lab work and medication therapy in an accountable, preventative, managed care model. Prescription waiting and pick-up areas will look more like active healthcare facilities with, yes, all the print collateral associated with that. As Walgreen with Boots (+75 percent) surpasses CVS (+22 percent) as the world’s largest pharmacy, FSI advertising will increase in page counts and frequency. FDA trials, a print-intensive process, will transplant into pharmacies.

    Folding one less “sig” to No. 5 is Publishing/Non-Newspaper ($74B, -1 percent; with $11.6B to print, -2 percent), which is “blocking” our few remaining domestic book manufacturers from survival margins even as the popular/trades (0 percent) cover prices rise and unit demand falls. John Wiley & Sons (0 percent), for example, has reduced its overall print CGS by 8 percent while its newest series, For Kids, sells at 10-times the cost of production! Theprofessional/education (-6 percent) segment, meanwhile, is at least increasing VDP in its pricing as it pushes “vanity” textbooks personalized for the instructor and reader.

    Book and periodicals (-3 percent) publisher Time Inc. (-3 percent post-spin-off) has already reduced its printing by 7 percent as it struggles to leverage its 23 impressive brand titles to non-print products. No national magazine nor publisher will increase circulations in 2015, and probably beyond, because they no longer want physical output, even if their readers do.

    Greetings/gift/partyware (+1 percent) will be most socially-expressed by American Greetings (+15 percent). Now privately held and divested of its display division, it will soon dominate both paper event goods and e-connections. Hallmark, 3-times larger in print, along with lesser long-time participants, are level in print as revenues and store-space collapse. Cards are out-priced to consumers.

    On hold at No. 3 is Telecommunications ($1.483T, -1 percent; with $12.2B to print, +<2 percent). Three of the largest eight advertisers are in this no-place-to-go sector. Consolidations and realignments in mobile, other wireless (+7 percent) signal new brands and cross-promotions with telecom equipment (-6 percent). In-store, transit, FSIs and direct mail will stay level.

    Cable/satellite (-6 percent) could be technologically displaced by 2018 with “cord-cutting” to streaming PC2TV. Directories (-5 percent) continue in decline as the few remaining players, like Dex SuperMedia (-14 percent) and Hibu Yellowbook (0 percent), struggle to broaden their ad and search offerings to also struggling local businesses; a crowded destination complicated by Google, Yelp, Groupon—and us! Nearly half of this sector is controlled by fewer than 30 companies; there is not much room for new entry.

    Two other tech sectors are downward and sideways. No. 15 Computer-ware($811B, +<3percent; with $5.8B to print, -10 percent) and No. 20 Electronics($722B, -5 percent; with $4.6B to print, +2 percent) are respectively in the cloud and on pause in print. Microsoft (+8 percent) and other software introductions are more than a year away, and ad spending will be minimal. Electronics retail FSIs and in-store graphics will remain level overall.

    Shrinking in size Best Buy (-11 percent) will revamp many of its stores, perhaps sharing its space with another complementary retailer. Think Target. Radio Shack (-22 percent), once a major catalog direct mailer, may be the next of many chains to fold as online retail overtakes bricks-and-mortar.

    Banking/Insurance ($4.559T, +9 percent; with $10.9B to print, -6 percent) will be in the red with print at No. 6, as 
Investment/Brokerage ($1.285T, +3 percent; with $4.9B to print, -6 percent) at No. 19 no longer is promoting to individual investors. Commercial banking (+5 percent) will close more branches in over-banked areas, with the only print opportunities among the regionals. Twenty or more will merge with name changes, great for screen signage and litho direct mail and inserts.

    Capital One (+4 percent) will continue as the biggest VDP mailer with an investment that’s obviously working. Insurance and investment banking print will be mostly conventional static newsletters, mostly digitally-run offering circulars and some narrow web and sheetfed work. Security printing, covered later here, will offer high returns.

    Durable goods sector print will build with No. 4 Real Estate ($2.161T, +5 percent; with $11.7B to print, +11 percent). Rentals (+8 percent) are opening up for open web as home ownership declines to under two-thirds—the lowest proportion since the 1930s. New/resale residential housing (0 percent) is in the cellar and won’t hit 2 million units, a benchmark.

    The causes of stringent lending and stagnant job growth will force realtors, builders and mortgagers (+12 percent) to widen the circulations of buyer’s guides, newspaper inserts, signage and brochures. Commercial real estate (-4 percent) is overbuilt in office space, warehouses and, worst, retail—all good for view books, high-end magazine inserts, large-format storefront/building wraps and, of course, “For Rent” signs.

    No. 10 Automotive ($2.195T, +5 percent; with $8.2B to print, +1 percent) is steering toward 16.7 million new cars and trucks (+7 percent) in 2015 because manufacturers missed last year’s target and the timing of the replacement cycle. The average age of U.S. vehicles on the road is 11 years, a record that Carmax (+10 percent) and other mega-dealers are exploiting with more used vehicle (+4 percent) stores and lots. While sheet and heatset web work is stalling to online advertising, coldset is curing up with local FSI and shopper publications, as are AutoZone (+23 percent) and other parts and repairs (+16 percent) retailers.

    The biggest category of advertisers are auto insurers and finance (+6 percent). Progressive (+9 percent) leads in print with VDP direct mail, out-of-home displays and vehicle wraps. Allstate (+6 percent) is out to regain lost market share as dozens of companies drive into this category.

    The third durables sector is No. 16 Home Improvements ($820B, +3 percent; with $5.8B to print, +6 percent). Ace Hardware (+9 percent) will gradually co-label its 3,000 U.S. member stores and 252 competitor conversions as HouseMart. VDP self-mailers with loaded “patronage dividend” cards, plus in-store remodeling graphics are good signs.

    Restoration Hardware (+30 percent), built since 1979 by, and continuing with, the most printed catalogs in this sector, is on a new move. It is buying large historic mansions to house up to 62 galleries that correspond with the company’s RH editions. In the long-washed-up home appliances (0 percent) segment, the Electrolux purchase of GE Appliances will bring re-branding and OEM work. The sector, overall, will increase FSIs and in-store graphics.

    The “discretionary” or non-durable goods and services economy consists of six sectors.

    Sailing up one port to No. 9 is Travel/Hospitality ($918B, +4 percent; with $8.3B to print, +11 percent). Twenty-five cruise lines (+2 percent) will buy 1/4th of sector print. The largest, with eight global brands, is Carnival (+5 percent), which will re-dedicate six of its 101 ships for extended, 10- to 14-day leisure cruises this coming autumn. Heatset web rack brochures, window and in-store signage, direct mail and on-board graphics will float this and other programs.Airlines (+6 percent) and hotels/resorts (+7 percent) fly with print-intensive loyalty program cards, statements and incentive direct mail. Both categories will have record revenues in 2015-16.

    Dressing down one size to No. 12 will be Fashion ($595B, -3 percent; with $6.9B to print, -3 percent). The sparkling exception is jewelry (+9 percent). Signet (+54 percent with the acquisition of Zale) will own the most stores, store names and designer lines. Tiffany’s (+10 percent) is taking the cue and mix shifting to high-margin designer fashion jewelry.

    Clothing, footwear and intimate/accessories (-3 percent) will see more store closings and bankruptcies as consumers walk away from fashion. Online shopping is unzipping catalogs and direct mail—for the moment. After the present shakeout, that may reverse. Gap (+6 percent) and Macy’s (-2 percent) will continue in vogue as the largest print buyers in the sector.

    Entertainment ($918B, +1 percent; with $6.7B to print, +11 percent) jumps two places to No. 13 while Leisure 
Activity ($191B, -2 percent; with $3.8B to print, +3 percent) remains lazy at No. 22. Toys and games (+2 percent) are winding up after a short slide. ToysRUs (+3 percent) plans to add 90 stores to its present 1,600. Most will be located outside the United States, but with centralized marketing. Signage and ad content management for in-country brokered FSIs should be print4Us.

    With acquisitions and best-selling toys, Hasbro (+22 percent) may overtake Mattel (-2 percent). Hasbro is also rolling out “Super Awesome Me,” where consumers scan their faces in stores, or text “selfies” to its supplier. Custom figures are 3D printed and shipped—a new business model for our medium to embrace.

    Outdoor recreation (+5 percent) is fresh air for catalog and retail outfitters. Cabela’s (+12 percent) will add 19 stores to its 64 present megastores. L.L.Bean (+22 percent) lumberjack-chic duck boots and other rugged wear are so popular that orders from last Christmas took months to fulfill. And all made in the USA.

    Live concerts/performances (+8 percent) are coming back off double-digit growth, as are motion pictures (+6 percent). At-venue and in-theater displays will be bigger, and stands will offer more printed merchandise.

    Related, but busting down six to No. 18 is Gaming/Wagering ($506B, -14 percent; with $<5.0B to print, -14 percent). State/province lotteries (0 percent) will bet big on multi-jurisdictional draw games with cross-media print-rich, broadcast and online components. The first, “Monopoly Millionaires’ Club,” just launched in 23 states, continues to expand. Scratch-off games should continue winning for print, placed and showed by litho and screen promotional signage. Wager that governments will de-criminalize betting pools and fixed-odds sports gaming, and so tax these “sins” by muscling into the action. Casinos/on-/off-track betting (-24 percent) will close facilities as players cut their losses. So-called “racinos” will be legal in most states (10 at YE 2014); a newer segment with CRM direct mail and on/near-site digital signage.

    Best positioned is lottery printer GTech (+49 percent), as it vertically integrates slot-machine maker IGT, and mobile play provider Probability plc. It will be firmly in the global game of licensing content and then sub-licensing distribution to its clients, adding impressive range and value to its output.

    Up two shelves to No. 14 is Discount Retail ($1.568T, +6 percent; with $6.3B to print, +5 percent). Following a year of flat same-store sales, the big-boxes will invest a record amount in print: FSIs, direct mail and in-store graphics that will be intended to both emulate and displace mid and upscale retail categories, particularly in fashion and food. Target, Sears, K-mart and others plan to close hundreds of under-performing stores, opening share gain opportunities for the other, healthier players.

    No. 21 Security/Protection ($270B, +18 percent; with $4.6B to print, +2 percent) will be the fastest growing sector as threats to life, property and information sharply increase. Data security/integrity (+25 percent) is ubiquitous and unseen, while personal/product safety (+15 percent) is specific and visual. Physical prevention and remedy screams print, though most in our medium are alarmingly inexpert in available and developable applications.

    ID theft, home invasion, document counterfeiting and the like require task-specific, multi-film, multi-substrate passes, closures, seals, wraps, labels, voids and more. Honeywell (+9 percent), 3M (+6 percent), and smart flexo, screen and digital, are best positioned across all tangible segments of this soon to be “exploding” sector.

    Logistics/Freight ($801B, +<7 percent; with $3.7B to print, -3 percent) remains No. 23. The U.S. Postal Service (+2 percent) will continue as a billion dollar print buyer, and deliver nearly 1/3rd of everything we print. Postage stamps, roll labels, money orders, signage and pre-printed package components will increase or level by region. Printers should take advantage of book rates, Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), Picture Permit Imprint Indicia and cross-media QRCs and AR to post more customer value. FedEx (+9 percent) and UPS (+6 percent) will increasingly benefit from double-digit online sales growth with “free” shipping, but print spends on forms and envelopes will drop. Also ominous is the quiet fact that both carriers are acquiring printers large and small, and are among the biggest brokers and financers of our medium.

    Twenty-five companies, including the USPS and Canada Post, will handle more than 9/10th of all correspondence and freight. There are over 2,700 lesser participants, mostly regional truckers, warehouses, forwarders and local courier services. The best offerings are vehicle wraps, labels and, yes, multi-part forms.

    Unchanged at No. 24 is Government/Federal and State ($6.696T, +<4 percent; with $1.9B to print, -5 percent). While distributed digital print flourishes in every bureaucracy, commercial print procurement is folding. The number of government bids at all levels is alarmingly decreasing, and the conditions and expectations are worsening. The only upsides will be facilities management where we take over in-plants from incompetent government “workers,” and privatization where we assume the rights of publication and sale of forms, manuals and other print.

    Maintaining a bare overall grade at No. 25 is Higher Education ($191B, +<4 percent; with $1.7B to print, +<8 percent). As tuitions in traditional campus-based, nonprofit and state-supported colleges and universities rise, admissions are declining. Don’t they teach economics? Print demand for development is also falling. Some institutions, while deriding alternative and proprietary education (+9 percent) will condescend to their marketing methods as their share exceeds 1/4th of sector revenues.

    Look for more bus and subway cards and wraps, VDP direct mail, event sponsorship signage and promo products, and ROP/FSIs in local print media. Apollo (+5 percent), the largest for-profit operator with more than 300,000 students across seven countries, expends 1/3rd of its revenues on selling!

    Inclusively, the HM 25 will account for more than 96 percent of total print. Run your share data by each vertical to see how it compares. Then, become an expert provider for no more than four that make the most sense in your product/market sweet spot verticals, rather than be a commodity bidder in a horizontal position. Market “hot” going forward to 2016 and be around for the years after the commodity sellers weed out.

    Top Five Myths about "Green Printing" January 30 2015

    There’s a lot of information about green printing online these days, some of which is just not true. Here we explore the top five myths about green printing.

    1. Green printing is a lot more expensive. Although green printing has traditionally been more expensive, that’s not necessarily the case any longer. At PTI, we have been able to consistently lower our prices for green printing to make them competitive with traditional printers – in manycases, our prices are actually be lower.

    2. Recycled paper results in lower quality. This is another myth that might have been true five years ago, but it’s not anymore. Today, a high-quality recycled paper is virtually indistinguishable from its “virgin” counterpart, and our customers regularly tell us that they’re impressed with the quality of our final printed product. But don’t take our word for it – we invite you to request a sample packet to see our papers and quality prior to placing a print order.

    3. All recycled papers are the same. A paper may be 30% recycled but have zero post-consumer waste content. Post-consumer waste is what most of us would consider “recycled” content: Paper that has been used and tossed in the recycle bin. When choosing a paper, it’s good to look at not just the recycled content, but also the post-consumer waste content. Almost all of the papers we use at PTI consist of at least 50% post-consumer waste.

    4. Going green means not printing. Yes, there are times when not printing is a better choice. Most people would much rather have their photos and documents stored on their smartphone, tablet or desktop device. However, there are also times when printing is necessary. Most of us would not show up to a networking event without business cards or go to a trade show without marketing collateral. Banners, signage, labels.. the list goes on. On these occasions, printing green is the best way to go.

    5. All green printers are the same. Would you say that there’s a difference between a printer who only provides recycled paper upon request vs. one who carries only recycled paper as the house stock? How about between a printer whose green practices have been independently verified by third-party audits vs. one who hasn’t? These are just some of the ways in which “green printers” can actually be quite different. Most talk the talk.. not all are walking the walk.

    How to Follow Up with a Prospect (for Distributors) January 28 2015

    printing manufacturing for resellersYou’ve just made a terrific sales call. You are leaving the office having met with a prospect for the first time. The presentation went well and, despite the fact that there was no immediate need for your products and services, you feel confident that it is only a matter of time before this prospect becomes a customer.

    But, now what?

    What is your next step with this prospect? How often should you call and what should you say?

    One thought is to call regarding jobs that you have produced for other clients that you think this prospect might find of interest.

    You might also want to check in to let them know about any new capabilities that you’ve added.

    Another thought is to send an e-mail with a link to an article regarding that prospect’s industry. Suppose you come across something in The Wall Street Journal that you might think he or she should see. This is an excellent way of staying top of mind while letting the prospect know that you are interested in them.

    We recommend you stay in front of your customers and prospects at least every six weeks. There is no science to this, but it is usually effective. 

    Remember to stay pleasantly persistent. Customers tend to forget about you the moment you walk out the door. It is your job to stay relevant.

    For more advice, feel free to reach out to our sales team. We support our distributors from the quality products we manufacturer to the tools to produce results. 

    Design Tips for Commercial Printing December 30 2014

    What types of images will work ok?

    If you are scanning the images yourself from photographs it is better to save them in either tif, or eps format. These image formats will preserve the color and sharpness of your pictures the best.

    File formats like gif or jpg compress the pictures color and pixel resolution and this can cause color shifts and blurriness. Since jpg and gif are the most predominant image formats on the web, it follows that it's not a good idea to simply lift an image from someone's website and use it in your layout.

    You should scan your images using a resolution of 300dpi at the final dimensions you intend to use them so that your colors will look smooth, and hard objects will look sharp. In other words don't scan at 300dpi and then enlarge the picture by 200% in your layout program! This is another reason why you should not use images that are lifted from websites; they are probably only 72dpi in resolution and will look very blurry if printed on a printing press. 

    If you are using pictures from your digital camera they will work just fine if they are jpgs; the quality of jpg images from digital cameras seems to be much better than jpgs that are used on the web. You must do the math to make sure that it is high enough in pixel resolution though. For instance, if your camera puts out a typical image of 1280 x 960 pixels at 72dpi you get about 17" x 13" of photograph (at 72dpi); this is the same amount of detail as an image which is 4" x 3" at 300dpi so it's safe to reduce or enlarge that image in Publisher up to about 4" x 3" in dimension.

    Do I need to send you my fonts?

    If you use only the fonts that came with MS Publisher then no. We have them here too.

    But if you use any other fonts from other sources then we do need you to gather up copies of them and archive them together using a program like Winzip and send them to us with your layout file.

    If you don't know how to do this then just carefully go through your document and make a list of the fonts used. Send that list to us in an email along with your order reference number so that we can find good substitutes for your typefaces.

    Will my printed piece look exactly like it does on my computer monitor?

    There are some small differences. Scanners and digital cameras create images using combinations of just three colors: Red, Green and Blue (called "RGB"). These are the colors that computers use to display images on your screen. But printing presses print full color pictures using a different set of colors: Cyan (blue), Magenta (red), Yellow and Black (called "CMYK"). So at some stage your RGB file must be translated to CMYK in order to print it on a printing press. This is easily done using an image editing program like Adobe Photoshop.

    Caution: It's Best If You do the RGB-to-CMYK Conversion of Your Images!

    You will have more control over the appearance of your printed piece if you convert all of the images from RGB to CMYK before sending them to us. When we receive RGB images, we do a standard-value conversion to CMYK, which may not be perfectly to your liking. We want you to be happy, so please, take the time to prepare your file properly. We cannot be responsible for sub-par results if you furnish low-res images or RGB images.

    Be aware that it is possible to make colors in RGB that you can't make with CMYK. They are said to be "out of the CMYK color gamut". What happens is that the translator just gets as close as possible to the appearance of the original and that's as good as it can be. It's something that everyone in the industry puts up with. So it's best to select any colors you use for fonts or other design elements in your layout using CMYK definitions instead of RGB. 

    Can I use colored text?

    It's best not to colorize small text. What happens is that all printing presses have a little bit of variance in the consistency of the position of the different color plates. This is called misregistration. The cyan, magenta, yellow and black portions of the text characters don't line up exactly. So the result is little colored halos around the characters. It's ok to use colored text on large, headline type, or smaller sizes down to about 12 point size, but much smaller than that will be too noticeable and you won't like it. The same thing holds true for white (knock-out) text on a dark or colored background.

    ou can do it but don't use point sizes smaller than about 12 point. Otherwise the words may be hard to read and it will look unprofessional.

    Can I put text over an image?

    Be careful about using photographs for backgrounds. If you put text (any color) on top it can be very hard to read. So the secret is to lighten the photograph a lot--more than you may think is necessary. Use a photo editing program like Adobe Photoshop.

    What are bleeds, and do I need them?

    Bleed is the term for printing that goes right to the edge of the paper. The way to do this is to make your document .25" too big in both dimensions. For instance, if the final size is 8.5" x 11" then make your document 8.75" x 11.25". Draw guides on the layout that are .125" from the edge all the way around. Now create your design with the idea that the layout will be cut off where those guides are....because that is precisely what is going to happen. Make sure that any photographs or backgrounds that you want to bleed go clear out to the perimeter of the document, past the guidelines. Then after we have printed your piece we will trim off that extra .125" all the way around and voila! You have color all the way to the edges of your piece. It looks professional....

    Not Sure We Can Print From Your File?

    If you are not sure that your file will work, you can send it to us and we will examine it to see if there are any major flaws that would prevent us from printing your job.

    What is PMS, and Why is It Important in Printing? October 29 2014

    The accuracy of color is critical in design. Because what you see on your monitor is never what will appear on a printed sheet, designers need a standardized color key.

    It can be very frustrating to see the logo you worked hard to create look deep blue on the client's letterhead, blue-greenish on his business card, and light blue on his very expensive envelopes.

    A way to prevent this is by using a standardized color matching system, such as the PANTONE MATCHING SYSTEM. Though PANTONE is not the only color standardization system, it is the most widely used and the one that most printers understand. Aside from being able to have consistency, PANTONE Colors allow you to use colors that cannot be mixed in CMYK.

    Different Matches for Different Color Lovers

    Pantone creates matching systems for more than graphic designers. For the purposes of t
    his article, however, we'll focus on those systems typical of print designs.

    Pantone offers chip books that help designers see how colors look on coated, uncoated, and matte stock. PANTONE Colors are distinguished by numbers and a suffix. While the number indicates the PANTONE Color itself, and is standard across all types of stock, the suffix indicates the media or stock, which affects how the ink is formulated to achieve the specific color.

    Guides Through a Colorful World

    There are several types of swatch guides that catalog the colors of the PANTONE Library. Some are narrow swatch books made of strips bound on one end with printed rectangular samples showing the different PANTONE Colors. The strips can then be opened or spread out in a fan-like manner. There are also binders with chips (rectangular swatches) that can be torn out and sent to a client with a proof, so that the client knows how his colors will look when printed.

    Some of the PANTONE Colors can be reproduced by mixing CMYK inks while others must be pre-mixed inks. Pantone has guides for their spot colors (called "Solid" or premixed ink colors by Pantone) and guides which show the Process colors. Samples in the process guides are therefore colors achievable through mixing CMYK (or "process") inks. A special guide also shows you the spot color and how it will look printed in CMYK along with CMYK values. This way, if spot colors, which are an added expense at print time, cannot be used, close colors may be mixed in process.

    Same Colour, Different Looks

    The type of paper used, will affect the appearance of colors. In separate swatch or chip books, Pantone shows you how their colors look on coated, uncoated, and matte paper. Therefore you have the number of the color (for example, PANTONE Red 032) followed by a suffix, which indicates on what stock your PANTONE Color is meant to be printed. If you want PANTONE Red 032 on shiny paper, then you would specify the color in this manner: PANTONE 032 C, where C stands for "coated". You then have U, which stands for "uncoated", and then M, which stands for "matte". You get:

    C = coated U = uncoated M = matte

    These three are the most important PANTONE Library abbreviations. You may, however, encounter the abbreviation CV followed by C, U or M. CV stands for Computer Video, which is the electronic representation of the PANTONE Colors. Now discontinued, but still seen in old versions of software, CV merely meant that the color was an on-screen simulation.

    There are also specialty guides for tints, metallic and pastel colors.

    One note of warning: If you use a color with a certain suffix, don't use it again with another suffix in the same publication, unless there is an actual need for that, such as when you use a color on a 4-colour glossy magazine with an insert printed on bond paper. In this case you would be using the same color both on coated and matte paper. If you use two different suffixes in the same publication, your desktop publishing software will see the color as two different colors and this will cause the production of one extra plate, and therefore the expense of extra money. So, use them only when necessary.

    Digital Color Guides for Your DTP Applications

    Most modern creative applications ship with all the relevant PANTONE Libraries pre-installed. Adobe Illustrator, for example, includes complete Coated, Uncoated, Matte, Metallic, Fluorescent, and Pastel colors, among others. Latest versions of these software programs offer up-to-date PANTONE Libraries with the exception of the new PANTONE® COLOR BRIDGE™ library (previously known as solid to process). This updated library may be downloaded free from Pantone for use with Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe InDesign, QuarkXPress, Macromedia FreeHand, CorelDRAW and Corel Designer. Even if you don't have those programs, the generic EPS and TIFF file versions may be used to import the PANTONE Color swatches into most other applications.



    A Beginner's Guide to Printing October 10 2014

    Printing is a process for reproducing text and images. Within the scope of this web site, I am focussing on printing as an industrial process, where it is an essential part of the publishing process.

    This blog covers:
    • What – the various products that get printed
    • Who – the types of printing companies
    • How – the printing technologies that are in use today
    • Why – the advantages of printed communication
    • Other sources of information about printing

    What is Print?

    Printing Market

    Printing companies can be categorized based on the type of customers they serve, the types of jobs they print and the equipment they use. The printing market is often split into 4 segments:

    Commercial printing – Commercial printers typically print a wide range of products, from stationery to brochures and magazines. Some companiesdo focus of specific markets, such as quick printers, forms printers, wide format printers, direct mail printers and companies doing security printing.
    Packaging printing – Packaging printers specialise in printing all kinds of packaging such as boxes, cartons, bags, cans, tags and labels.
    Publication printing – Newspaper printers, book printers, magazine printers or directory printers target the high volume work in a specific market.
    In-plants – An in-plant is a printing facilities that is part of a company or institution and only produces print for its own employer.

    Printing Processes

    There is a wide variety of technologies that are used to print stuff. The main ones are:

    Offset – The full name of this proces is offset lithography. It is the most widely used printing technique on the market, suitable for printing on paper, cardboard, plastic and other flat materials. Offset is used for printing books, newspaper, stationery, packaging, etc.
    Flexo – In flexographya flexible (typically rubber) printing plate is used, which extends the range of substrates that can be printed on. Plastics, metals, cellophane and other materials can be printed on. Flexo is mainly used for packaging and labels and to a lesser extend also for newspapers.
    Digital printing – A number of different printing technologies such as inkjet and xerography are often referred to as digital printing. These are the newest procesees and as such they are gradually replacing other processes. They also offer new possibilities such as variable data printing, in which each printed copy is different from the previous one.
    Screen printing – This printing technique can handle a wide range range of materials and the printing surface does not have to be perfectly flat. Printing t-shirts or glass surfaces or on wood are some of the possibilities.
    Gravure – Also known as rotogravure, this is a technique in which an image is engraved into a printing cylinder. That cylinder is inked and this ink subsequently transfers to paper. Gravure is used for high volume work such as newspapers, magazines and packaging.

    The Advantages of Printed Communication

    For some printed products, such as packaging, there is no substitute. For others such as magazines, newspapers, catalogs and books electronic equivalents exist. The internet, mobile communication and tablet publishing have already had a profound impact on the printing industry. Stating that print is dead overlooks many of the key advantages of printed communication.

    Many types of print media (newspapers and magazines) still have a loyal readership. They remains a valuable part of the marketing mix of advertisers.

    Print Allows for Easy Distribution to a Particular Geographical Region

    Many printed publications have a reputation that is as yet unrivaled by on-line or electronic media.
    Print media are often more engaging than their electronic counterparts.

    Magazines and newspapers are tangible products with an often loyal followingMost people assume e-communication is more environmentally friendly than print.While this may be true in some cases, it is not always so.

    The argument overlooks the environmental impact of producing reading devices, the storage and distribution of data and the electricity needed to power reading devices.

    People incorrectly assume their home printer has the same environmental impact as industrial printing presses. In reality a commercial printing press can produce 100 A4 pages using the same amount of energy that a laser printer at home needs to print one single page.

    The production of paper is becoming more energy efficient. Since 1990 the use of water has been reduced by over 60%. Energy consumption has dropped 20%.

    Paper is increasingly recycled. In 2009 around 65% of all paper was recycled in Europe. The US paper industry hopes to recover 55 percent by 2012.

    Once a publication is produced long term storage and re-reading require no additional energy.