Experience Piles on at Universal Printing

Posted by Universal Printing on Mon, Sep 30, 2013 @ 04:11 PM

Bob and Sandi MouraUniversal Printing is Durham's most respected and reliable resource for graphic products like banners, printing and mailing. Over the past 33 years Bob and Sandi Moura have recruited a versatile team of graphic professionals who provide fast, reliable results from the heart of RTP. So it's no surprise to learn that even more experience has recently joined the Universal team.

Fred Midgett Fred Midgett recently came aboard with the title of Project Manager. Fred has life-long roots in the community and a long history of printing excellence. Born in Durham NC, Fred is a graduate of Chowan University in Murfreesboro NC. With over 37 years of industry experience, Fred brings a wealth of expertise in a variety of areas. From prep to presses, marketing to mailing, he has a knack of helping clients find successful ways to communicate their message. We aren't sure if the the title adequately fits all that Fred brings, but we are sure Fred is a great addition to Universal Printing.

Reagan Register Reagan Register joined our roster this summer as as Account Manager. Like Fred he has a heaping helping of experience in the print industry and all of it right here in the triangle. Reagan is a graduate of Wake Tech, and spent a few years in mechanical drafting before that spun off into a printing career - now 24 years and counting. If you haven't met Reagan yet be prepared for some knowledgable and courteous service... with a big smile.  If you're lucky, you've already had the pleasure of working with Reagan. One thing's for sure, we're mighty lucky to have him on our team.

Fred and Reagan were both mentioned in the people section of the Triangle Business Journal. They're just the two most recent additions to the deep well of experience and know-how that is Universal Printing. Next time you need printing, banners, posters, envelopes, mailing or just about anything ink-on-paper, contact us or give us a call. We're right around the corner.

Contact Us

Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, digital printing, offset printing, blog, cross-media marketing

Commercial Printing Tips: Understanding Ink Coverage

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Apr 20, 2012 @ 03:00 PM

Here at Universal Printing, we love "Good Design."  Thank You Mr. Puppy, for helping us underand Total Ink CoverageNot only do we have our own talented Design professionals in-house, but we've been fortunate to work with a number of amazing Ad Agencies and Independent Designers from around the country. Everyone has their own style and work habits, but almost all of them have one thing in common: They always want tips, suggestions, and feedback from their Printing Partner. 

One of the easiest and most helpful ways to improve the design, runability, and final impact of a piece, is to avoid unnecessary ink saturation.  Too much ink an any one spot can lead to printing and drying issues, which in turn effect everything from how quickly your project can be printed, to possible issues in the cutting and finishing of your project. Too much ink layered on top of each other can lead to other prblems like "plugging" or "muddying" your photos.  But don't fret — we're here to help!  Let's start with this adorable puppy in a tiny rocking chair in the above image. He looks like he could sell something, or at least make sure your target audient give him a second look!  Time to figure out how to maximize his impact, and keep is adorable little puppy face neat and clean! 

What is Total Area Coverage? 

Ink Coverage Puppy AnimationFor Black & White, or Monochrome images, this is easy to understand.  Dark shadow areas might be in the 90% tint range, while Highlight areas may fall more into a 5%-15% tint.  With Full Color images, things get more intense! You now have 4 different ink colors, all piling on top of each other.  If you piled have 4 layers of ink, all at 50% screen, you'll get a total of 200% Total Area Coverage in that area.  If those layers are 80% each, you'll have a combined 320% Total Area Coverage.  As a general rule, 280% is about as high as you want to go, depending on paper type and finish. We usually flag anything above 260% total ink.

Fortunately, with the latest Adobe products, checking your Total Area Coverage has become a simple few clicks of the mouse.  Take Adobe Acrobat, for instance:  You simply open your image or PDF file, and then open the "Output Preview" window under the "Print Production" tools.  Under the window showing your Separations, you'll see a "Total Area Coverage" checkbox.  Click it, select your highlight color (green in our example below), and select 260% in the dropdown box.  You'll see that Mr. Fuzzy-Face has a TON of ink in the background, all over his chair, and most importantly his eyes and nose. Those eyes are where he makes his money, so next we'll see how to adjust for that!

Puppy Ink Coverage

Fixing the Issue in Photoshop

Generally speaking, there are several ways to adjust for the Total Ink Coverage in your images.  The fastest and easiest is in Photoshop, assuming your images are still RGB.  We’re going to rely on Adobe’s built-in GCR (Grey Component Replacement) process.  GCR is simply this: We want to take those super saturated built blacks, which are causing all of the excessive ink buildup, and transfer some of the built shadow to the Black channel.  In this case, Pup-Dizzle’s eyes and nose and chair, start at almost 300% (C=78% | M=70% | Y=63% | K=85%).   We want to lower the C, M, Y channels proportionately to not affect the hue, and enhance the black to enhance the darkness.  

Universal Printing GCR settings for Adobe Photoshop

Start by opening your RGB image in Photoshop, and select “Color Settings” from the Edit menu.  Next, choose “Custom CMYK…” under the CMYK dropdown in the Working Spaces section of the window.  Set the Separation Options to GCR, with Black Generation set to “Heavy” or “Maximum”, and put “260%” in the Total Ink Limit field.  

Name this setting and click OK to apply it and also save it for future use.  Feel free to toggle the Preview on and off before clicking OK again, and you should notice that in most images, there is very little visual change, but when you set your color mode from RGB to CMYK, most of the shadows are pushed to the Black separation where they belong, and the Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow are simply making the colors colorful.  Visually, the picture is almost identical to where it started, but now those shadow areas build differently (C=61% | M=50% | Y=48% | K=95%) with a more manageable 254% Total Area Coverage.

By controlling your Total Area Coverage, you can ensure the best possible results from your photos and graphics. You’ll also run into fewer color shifts, delays due to drying time, and possible quality issues during the finishing process.  For more information about how to prepare your files for print, feel free to browse our blog, or contact any member of our helpful staff.  Our Customer Service team is always available to point you in the right direction!

 

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: graphic design, setting up your files, commercial printing, offset printing, Gracol, G7, Adobe Photoshop, color correction

Printing Ink 101: Why Reflex Blue makes people CRAZY!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Mar 02, 2012 @ 12:35 PM

Here’s a simple “fun” fact about printing: Printers CRINGE at projects with dark blue ink!

“Why?” you ask.  True simple words: REFLEX BLUE

Colbalt is one mineral that keeps Reflex Blue from drying.In a previous blog post, Spot Color vs Process Color, we talked about the 14 Pantone mixing inks that are used to build all other Pantone colors.  One of these colors is Reflex Blue, which is a color best described as a deep blue-violet hue.  It’s much richer than its closest mixing ink, Blue 072.  Reflex Blue gets its rich color from a family of pigments referred to as Alkali Blue pigments, which includes the mineral cobalt.  These mineral are VERY strong in color, and give Reflex Blue it’s rich deep hue.  But like most of other alkaline minerals (like limestone and soapstone) they are very porous, even at the granular level. In short, the thing that makes Reflex Blue look like Reflex Blue, are minerals that act like lil mini sponges.

So… for those not familiar with printing, the process is best described as a balancing act!   All press operators are constantly juggling 4 parts:

Image (generally on a metal or polyester plate)

Ink (the liquid, oil-based color that’s being printed)

Water (pH specific water and other additives to aid with conductivity, release, and drying,
typically called “Fountain Solution”)

Paper (the text or cover stock you’re running, along with its thickness and finish.)

Once the ink is transferred onto the paper, it’s very wet and easily smudged or smeared. Before it can be handled, or even printed on the second site, the ink needs time to dry.  Certain colors dry faster. Generally lighter colors will dry very quickly, darker colors take a bit longer. And then there’s our good, old-faithful Reflex Blue:  Remember all those lil mini sponges that make it such a great color?  Yes… these also work VERY hard against the drying process, Depending on the surface of the stock, and the amount of coverage, there are some experts that will say Reflex Blue NEVER really fully dries.

Wait… there’s more!

We got the blues!For any of you that are lucky enough to have a Pantone book, you may notice that most of them have mixing formulas.  Let’s look at a very standard Royal Blue color: Pantone 286. The formula for mixing that is 25% Process Blue and 75% Reflex Blue. As a result, it’s going to take a while to dry. Compare that to Pantone 2747, which appears to be a darker, deeper navy blue. That formula is about 94% Blue 072 and 6% Black NO REFLEX! A slightly different set of minerals allow this color, which appears deeper, to actually dry faster.  Strange, indeed!

Why does this matter? 

It’s important to know at the design and project planning stage what inks you’re dealing with.  If you or your clients have their hearts set on an ink made with Reflex Blue, you may want to consider a coating or varnish option to help with handling the finished pieces.  You also may need to factor in additional production time into the printing of the piece.

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, graphic design, commercial printing, offset printing, G7

Understanding Paper Weight... Mysteries Revealed!

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Jun 17, 2011 @ 02:27 PM

A few months ago we posted a 2-part Blog about Choosing the Right Paper but we still get a lot of questions about one VERY confusing topic:  Paper Weight and Thickness.

FACT: It’s complicated!

ANOTHER FACT:  It’s complicated for NO GOOD REASON!

Don’t feel bad if it doesn’t make sense.  There’s nothing wrong with you…  it’s just that there are a lot of terms used in the world of paper. Some of them mean the same thing, and some of them don’t.  But here’s the good news!  Universal Printing is FILLED with people who love paper, know paper, understand paper, and deal with paper DAILY; and we’re more than happy to share anything we know about it with YOU!

Paper Weight Comparison Chart

Here’s a handy-dandy comparison chart to help you figure which paper weights are equivalent.

Universal Printing's Paper Weights Chart 

Dying to know more?

For the sake of this blog, we’re not going to talk about color, shade, texture, finish, or anything else like that.  We’re JUST talking about weight and thickness.  But to start, we’ll break it down to 2 main categories:

Text  
“Regular” Paper

Bond
Writing
Ledger
Book
Offset
Multipurpose
Text

Cover
("Cardstock")

Cardstock
Cover
Index
Board
Bristol
Blanks
Tag

Weight and Thickness are DIFFERENT

The different classes of text or cover each come with their own “weight” determined by Basis Weight.  Basis Weight is the weight of 500 sheets, at the base size for that type of stock.  Bond or Writing paper has a Base Size of 17” x 22”, so if 500 sheets weighs 20lbs than it’s called 20# Bond or 20# Writing no matter what size it’s cut down to.  Offset and Text sheets have a Base Size of 25” x 38”, so if 500 sheets at that size weighs 50lbs, than it’s called 50# Offset or 50# Text.

You’ll notice, that in our comparison chart further down, the 20# Bond and 50# Offset are the same thickness, which now makes perfect sense, because the Base Size of Offset is over double the size for Bond… so the Basis Weight for Offset will also be more than twice the weight of Bond.

GSM – Grams per Square Meter

Whether you’re familiar with the metrics system or not, you probably know that it one of the principles is to keep the math simple and make all things equal.  GSM is the metric systems classification for paper, because they don’t care about how it’s made or what it’s used for. They just want to know a simple way to determine volume.  So one sheet of these same papers (20# Bond or 50# Offset) cut to 1 meter x 1 meter, will weigh 75 grams  (which is 75gsm…  grams per square meter).  Again, this isn’t a measure of thickness…. but generally speaking, the more grammage a single sheet has at a fixed size the more density it has, which often relates to thickness of the sheet (but can also involve bulk and manufacturing process).

Again… it can get very complicated.  If you’re interested in knowing even more, you’re welcome to explore some of our past blogs about paper.  Or you can always speak with any member of our helpful staff.

 

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: printing, tips and tricks, commercial printing, printing services, business solutions, digital printing, offset printing

Is Printing Offshore a Good Idea, or Just Plain Lame?

Posted by Robert Moura on Fri, Apr 15, 2011 @ 02:59 PM

Offshore Printing - Just Plain Lame

We’ve noticed over the past several years that some of our clients have tried the offshore printing gig (like in China, for example.) As far as we can tell, they have all come back to buying locally with someone they can trust, have a face to face conversation with, and avoid experiencing any of the challenging cultural differences.

This experience has been both rewarding and frustrating for us. Frustrating because we usually don’t find out until a client has already printed overseas, been burned or let down, and then come back. Rewarding because they do come back, with similar stories and a realization that the trust, professionalism, quality and reliability we provide as a “given”, which they had previously taken for granted, has real value to their companies.

The most common issues we've heard are: longer than promised delivery times, unanticipated shipping expense, and customs tariffs and delays. Add poor quality, short count delivery, inferior packaging causing freight damage and spoilage, and the impossibility of making up those shortages in a timely fashion, and you’ve pretty well summed up the top challenges.  Communication is also usually sketchy but, somehow in the buyer’s mind, worth the allure of savings and the adventure of international intrigue! (P.S. The last thing we are told is that the savings never really materialized, which made the rest of the above even more painful for them to endure!)

Having lived overseas for over 15 years I understand that international trade is a good thing. Unfortunately, the printing industry is already highly commoditized in the U.S., despite including all the value benefits mentioned above. So the question becomes: Why would you want to go overseas, where you typically give up all the benefits your local printer offers and add all the risks? Not to mention, your work will probably be produced on equipment that the rest of the world has previously discarded.

I am sure that some may have different takes and experiences regarding offshore printing, but these are my experiences and my views for what they are worth. Let us know if you have any experiences, good or bad.

So if you want to “Think Globally and Act Locally” and be a contributor to your local economy — where your kids and ours go to school, your friends and family live, play, worship, and pay taxes  — then maybe you are on the team that thinks Offshore Printing is just plain lame!

Tchau for now!

Bob Moura

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: commercial printing, Universal Printing, printing services, business solutions, digital printing, offset printing

It's about CHOICE! Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing

Posted by Universal Printing on Fri, Apr 08, 2011 @ 12:03 PM

Helping you decide between Digital and Offset Printing

One of the advantages of being in business for over thirty years, is that we've seen a lot of exciting changes in the world of commercial printing and graphics communications. Computer-to-Plate (CTP) systems have made a huge impact in traditional offset printing, providing better printing plates capable of amazing image quality.  Our chemistry-free plating system develops on press which adds an incredible environmental benefits as well.  Technology has lead to major improvements in the areas of digital printing and copying also — using faster, more precise RIPS, and producing higher resolution output in shorter periods of time. When you add our GRACoL G7 processes into the mix, you get dynamic color which is repeatable and matches across ALL devices. Exciting stuff!

As proven experts in both Digital Printing and traditional Offset Printing, we have a great deal of experience and advice that we're more than happy to share with our clients. First, let's take a look at the advantages of each printing method:

Advantages of Digital

  • Lower cost per unit for shorter runs (no money tied up in plates or make-ready)
  • Faster turn-around times (no drying time required.)
  • Variable Data printing so each page can be unique
  • Instant Proofing, since each proof IS a print
  • Less waste since there's virtually ZERO make-ready


Advantages of Offset

  • Lower cost per unit for longer runs (Unit cost goes down as print quantity goes up)
  • Better Quality with higher image resolution (especially when combined with CTP, like we do!)
  • More paper options (Most digital devices require special papers and smooth finishes, which makes linen and laid finishes challenging or not possible)
  • Pantone Spot Color and Metallic Ink options (Not all colors can be built from CMYK, no matter how hard you try!)


Making your decision...

Once you've weighed all your options, it comes down to the needs and requirements of each unique project.  Digital is clearly the best option for small runs needed in a hurry, as long as you don't need special papers or spot colors.  If you have time, need a bunch, and have special corporate colors to match, you can't beat traditional offset.

Fortunately, while the choice is clearly yours, you never have to figure it out all alone.  You're always welcome to contact one of our knowledgeable Customer Service or Sales Representatives. They will always be happy to help you choose the best solution for your project, while meeting your budget and time-line.

 

Universal Printing Blog Logo

Universal Printing
Offering quality printing and communications solutions to
Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, and the Triangle since 1979.
www.universalprinting.com

 

Tags: commercial printing, printing services, digital printing, offset printing, G7, green printing, environmental responsibility, variable data