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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

What they learned at the envelope plant tour

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jan 17, 2012 10:49:00 AM

Elite Envelope manufacturing plant

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! 

Topics: elite envelope, envelope manufacturing, jet printing, envelope manufacturer, envelope converting, four color envelope printing, envelope die cutting, envelope converting process, envelope blank, printed envelopes

Envelope Converting: The Basics

Posted by Jerry Velona on Aug 19, 2011 1:39:00 PM

envelope converting elite envelope

The term “converting” in relation to envelopes is sometimes not well-understood. So, here’s a very simple explanation: Envelope converting is the process by which sheets of paper are cut, glued and folded into envelopes. An envelope converter is a company that has the machinery and personnel to do this. An envelope converter is the same thing as an envelope manufacturer.  To “convert” means to change. We envelope converters are changing paper into envelopes; hence the name.

An envelope conversion starts with sheets or rolls of paper. The paper can be unprinted or can be covered with ink on both sides.  In either case the process is the same with a few modifications depending on the stock and if or how it is printed.

Let’s take a simple, hypothetical order and go through it step by step to illustrate the process.

"The Printing Company" has a customer who wants 5,000, 24# white wove, #10 standard window envelopes with full printing coverage on all sides.  Since the envelope is easily available as a stock item, TPC is wondering if Elite Envelope can simply print on the stock envelope.  This isn’t possible for two reasons: first, envelope presses cannot print full ink coverage on two sides of an envelope. For starters, there would be ink build-up, seam markings, ink rub-off and that’s assuming that the presses could even be set up to do it.  Second, because the customer wants the printing to bleed right to edge of the window all around, it’s impossible to print this without hitting the window occasionally.

This is a good example of an envelope job which must be converted. The Printing Company has the capability to print up to a 19 x 25 sheet size. Elite Envelope will supply them with a digital file that shows the outline of the unfolded envelopes (called “blanks” in the envelope biz) set up in the proper position for printing. In this case, 4 envelopes can be printed on this sheet.   The diagram which shows how the envelopes must be placed on the sheet for proper conversion is called a layout. The printer must set the job up in the exact manner specified by the layout.

Once the printer sets up his artwork on the layout sheet, he will send a sample sheet to the envelope converter for final approval before printing.  The converter will inspect to make sure that the sheet matches the layout in all respects and, if so, will tell the printer the job is ready to print.

Because there is waste involved in the envelope converting process, TPC has been advised to include a certain amount of extra sheets.  In addition to the regular printing sheets, they will also supply what are called “spotter sheets” which are regular sheets with dots added in the 4 main corners of each envelope on the sheet. A small number of these sheets (typically 1 for every 200 sheets supplied) are required with every job in order for the cutting to be accurate. I’ll explain that later in more detail.

The printer will print the job and stack the sheets on a pallet making sure that the edges are jogged so that the sheets line up perfectly on top of one another. This is an important step taken to ensure uniformity in the cutting process. The printer will take care to pack the sheets on the pallet and strap them tightly so they don’t move in transit.

At this point, the envelope converter takes over. I’ll pick up where this leaves off in my next post.

 

Topics: envelope manufacturer, envelope converting, envelope converting layout, envelope converting process, envelope blank, spotter sheet, layout, envelope converting basics

Yet Another Blog Post

From Jerry Velona - co-owner,

Elite Envelope & Graphics, Inc.

Jerry offers pertinent, often useful information on envelope converting and printing, web printing, direct mail, the post office, songs that have to do with mail and letters, digital overload and much more!

(Non-spam) Comments always appreciated.  Spread it around!

 

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