Envelope converting is the process by which sheets of paper are made or “converted” into envelopes. The sheets can be plain or printed. Machines which make envelopes can do so from paper rolls (which avoids die cutting as a separate function) or from die cut “blanks” which are fed into the machine and glued and folded.
Most converting jobs are ordered by printers. Generally speaking a printer will know the process and be able to speak the same language as the envelope converter and give him what he needs in order to produce the job properly.
However, there are many smaller users; small business owners, graphic designers to name just a couple, who might require a converted envelope and may not understand how to avoid the pitfalls that could occur as part of the converting process. For those folks and any others who might not be that familiar with the process, you can obtain a list of converting tips here. But in addition, here are the three most common errors in the envelope converting process. Keep these in mind when designing and ordering your custom envelope.
- Error #1 – Not designing to the converter’s layout sheet.
Always ensure that the sheets are printed in strict accordance with the layout/template provided by the envelope converter. If you don’t get one at the time of the order, ask for it. The converter knows how the job is to be laid out for best results. And if you’ve ordered the envelope before from a different converter, don’t assume that their layout will apply to a different company. Even if it’s a standard size like a #10, things like flap sizes can vary from company to company depending on their particular die.
- Error #2 – Not accounting for the inevitable manufacturing variation and tolerances.
As I’ve covered in previous posts, there is variation inherent in both the cutting and folding of an envelope. If you are printing an envelope that has color which bleeds to one of the folding edges, you must wrap-around the image by at least 1/8” to ensure no white space shows. The only way to significantly minimize this variation without the wrap-around is to individually die cut each envelope prior to folding. This is a much more costly process and not feasible on a large order. Plus, because of the folding variation, you’re still not going to get them all perfect.
- Error #3 – Not leaving a no print area where glue meets ink.
If your envelope has full ink coverage all around, you must leave a space – called a no-print area – on the side flaps where they meet the back panel and also on the back panel where it meets the flap. This is where the glue is applied to hold the envelope together and seal it. The adhesion property of the glue is significantly lessened when it is applied on top of heavy ink coverage. The layout provided by the envelope converter should have these areas marked off but if they don’t, make sure you ask.
Paying attention to these three points will allow you avoid the most common problems on an envelope converting job. Feel free to e mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to answer them for you.