As an envelope converter and manufacturer, Elite Envelope holds a relatively unique place in the printing world. We are the only envelope converter in greater Boston and one of only six in all of New England.
One of our favorite things to do is invite customers and prospective customers to visit us for a plant tour. Many envelope buyers have never actually seen an envelope being made and it’s always an eye-opening experience. There’s always at least one comment about the fact that they didn’t realize so much went into the making of a simple envelope.
We start by showing the paper cutting processes. We show how reams of paper are precisely die-cut either by hand for smaller jobs or, for larger jobs, on our computerized PHP cutter. Showing the cookie-cutter-style die going through the paper lift demonstrates how variation can occur in the cutting process better than any explanation. You can actually see the paper bend just slightly as it’s cut. Customers can actually see how certain designs are more practical than others given the limitations inherent in the process.
After a short stop at the latex self seal and peel and seal equipment, we move on to the folding machines which are the heart of the envelope converting process. We show how the die cut “blanks” are fed into the machine at one end and come out the other end a scored, glued and folded envelope. Customers see the seal gum applied as the first process and how once the gum is applied, the blank travels the entire length of the machine over hot lamps designed to set the proper dryness of the gum.
We show how the panel cutter die punches out the window area which is then covered over by the poly patch. The tour guide points out how the window must be at least 3/8” from the edge of the envelope in order to allow for the patch and the glue necessary to keep it tight. We show how the machine ensures an exact count coming off and how our adjustors/mechanics continually make the fine adjustments necessary to keep the envelopes perfectly square and to the specifications required by even the most demanding customer in all aspects.
Finally, the tour reaches the printing department where our 2 color and 4 color jets are on display with all the various printing capabilities they provide. Customers and prospects are generally very impressed by the quality of our four color envelope printing.
So, if you’re buying envelopes I encourage you to contact your envelope vendor for a tour of the plant. Make sure they actually make the envelopes though; not all envelope companies do. There are many advantages in dealing directly with the manufacturer; not the least of which is you can go on a nifty tour and maybe even get lunch afterwards!