Print Finishing

Print finishing questions and answers ranging from what are finishing services to how is paper drilling accomplished.

Print Finishing Questions and Answers

Finishing (or bindery) services are the final steps which take place after offset printing or digital printing has been completed. Common finishing services include cutting, folding, drilling, collating sheets together, shrink wrapping, UV coating, round cornering, and various types of bookbinding. Some common book bindings are magazine style (known as stitching), coil binding, comb binding, and perfect binding (soft cover book binding). Most jobs require one or more finishing steps.
Most printing companies use guillotine style cutters to cut documents down to final size. The size of the lift (number of sheets being cut) will vary depending on the weight and thickness of the stock and the cutter being used. If a sheet has to be cut multiple times, usually one cut will be completed on all sheets of a particular job before proceeding to the next cut. It is important that printing is dry prior to cutting down a particular project.
Similar to cutting, drilling is done in stacks, or lifts. The size of the lift will vary depending on the weight and thickness of the stock and the drill being used. Many printing companies have paper drills which will drill multiple holes at a time. If multiple holes are being drilled, the drill bits need to be adjusted so the holes are correctly spaced. There are several different sizes of holes which can be drilled. A standard hole is 5/16” in diameter.
Unlike cutting or drilling, folding proceeds one sheet at a time in rapid succession. Most folders allow a stack of paper to be loaded for folding. Folders employ “gates”, one for each fold in a document. The gates need to be adjusted for the exact fold on each job. The number of folds which can be accommodated by a folder is determined by the number of gates. Some folders allow for folds to take place at a right angle to the first fold. Offset printed sheets must be fully dry before they can be run through a folding machine.
Documents can be mechanically collated together by collators designed for that purpose. Collators have “bins” which allow uncollated stacks of sheets to be loaded to be collated with other sheets. The number of sheets which can be collated together depends on the number of bins on a collator. Most collators only accommodate flat sheets. In other words, pre-folded or pre-stapled sheets usually can’t be mechanically collated. Of course, folded sheets or stapled sets can always be collated together the old fashioned way—by hand.
The best choice for a book binding project will depend on the final use of the document. Magazine style binding (stitching) is often the least costly type of binding, but has a limited shelf life. Coil binding is an excellent choice for books which need to look professional, lay flat when open and have a longer shelf life. Comb binding is similar in terms of longevity, but thick comb bound books will not lay completely flat. Perfect binding (soft cover binding) is also an excellent choice but perfect bound books will not lay flat. Perfect binding is also “permanent”; you cannot make changes once the book is bound. Perfect binding has become a very popular binding in recent years.

For more details on the best binding to use for a specific project, call The Print Authority at (615) 468-2679.
The number of sheets which can be successfully bound into a magazine style binding will depend on the weight and thickness of the paper being used. Most stitching equipment will stitch up to 20 sheets at a time. After the sheets have been folded and stitched, this will yield a book of up to 80 8.5” x 11” (or smaller) pages. The Print Authority now has integrated, online magazine style binding available for either black and white or full color books where there are no bleeds on any of the pages. This integrated binding will bind at least 30 sheets at a time, which yields up to 120 page magazine style books. Books with more than 80 pages are usually bound by one of the other methods.
The number of sheets which can be bound into any book will depend on the weight and thickness of the stock used. Most plastic book bindings will accommodate up to about a 2” thick document, although some can work for up to a 3” thick document.
The number of sheets which can be bound into any book will depend on the weight and thickness of the stock used. Most perfect binding equipment will accommodate books up to about 2” thick.
The answer to this question is highly dependent on the process used to print the sheets (offset or digital), any special procedures used to dry offset printed sheets and the capacity of a particular bindery department. It is a good idea to allow at least an extra day for a standard bindery job. Some large bindery jobs or jobs requiring multiple bindery processes will take longer. The integrated magazine style binding now available on the digital presses now at The Print Authority produces finished books which are completely bound coming off of the digital press. However, integrated binding slows down the digital production process.
Laminating is available for either offset printed or digitally printed sheets in 3 mil, 5 mil and 10 mil thicknesses. 3 mil laminate is the thinnest and least expensive, and is our most commonly used thickness. 10 mil thickness is similar to that used on Driver’s licenses. We now offer gloss laminate, dull laminate and even “soft touch” laminate. Each one of these produces a different look and feel. Call us anytime to find out more about laminating options for your particular project!
The Print Authority now offers UV coating for both digitally produced and offset printed pieces. Our UV coating is done offline in our finishing department. We offer both gloss and dull UV coating. The UV coating is applied one side at a time by feeding the printed sheets through our UV coater. UV coating is an excellent choice to reduce wear and tear on your printed materials or just to make them stand out. Please keep in mind that you must use a coated paper (gloss or dull) for any UV coating job.
There are two ways to accomplish round cornering. One way is to use a cornering machine in which stacks of printed items (lifts) can be cornered one corner at a time. The other way to corner documents is with die cutting which involves stamping out cards or other documents one sheet at a time. Die cutting is more time consuming, but can also be more precise. Ask which is the right process for your job.

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