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Pushing the Envelope Beyond Ordinary

Envelope Converting Mistakes to Avoid

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jun 22, 2018 3:13:33 PM

9D6A7832 small file

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 jerry@eliteenvelope.com if you have any other questions. I’d be happy to answer them for you.

Topics: envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting, custom envelopes

 Envelope Converting Defined – part 2

Posted by Jerry Velona on Mar 14, 2018 4:02:50 PM

In my previous post, we took the converting process from the point where the printer prepares the sheets and ships them to the envelope converter. Once the sheets are received, the envelope converting process for custom envelopes actually begins.

The first step is die-cutting the envelope blanks out of the sheet.  The envelope company will use a steel die – resembling a cookie cutter (see picture below). This is also sometimes referred to as a “high die” as the sides are generally around 4 inches high to account for the size of the ream being cut.

Depending on the quantity of the envelopes to be converted, the die-cutting will be either done by hand as the picture shows or in an automated fashion using a programmable hydraulic press (PHP).  The hands-on method allows for a little more accuracy and individual adjustments on cuts which can be improve the results on certain jobs. Once the envelope blanks are cut out of the sheets, they are stacked and ready to be fed into the folding machine.

_MG_0079.jpg

Some tips to ensure a problem-free converting experience:

Always ensure that the sheets are printed exactly per 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 on the sheet for best results. Going by the layout and submitting a proof sheet for prior approval can prevent many of the most common errors.

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.

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.

If you’re looking to make a custom envelope that really stands out, consider dealing directly with an envelope converter rather than an envelope printer who doesn’t also make envelopes.  They will give you the expertise you need to ensure your job is a “cut” above. 

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Topics: envelope converter, top quality envelopes, custom envelopes, envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting

Envelope Converting Defined – part 1 

Posted by Jerry Velona on Feb 1, 2018 2:52:09 PM

The term “converting” in relation to envelopes is sometimes not well-understood. So, here’s a very simple definition: 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. It’s a factory where envelopes are made.  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, covered with ink on both sides or anything in between.  In either case the process is the same with a few modifications depending on the paper and whether or how it is printed.

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

ABC Printing” 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, ABC 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 perfect example of an envelope job which must be converted. ABC Printing has the capability to print up to a 19 x 25 sheet size. Elite Envelope will supply them with a digital file showing 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.

 Envelope blanks for converting-1.jpg

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, ABC has been advised to include a certain amount of extra sheets. The smaller the order, the higher the percentage of extra sheets is required.  Also, jobs that have windows or that are on glossy paper will require higher amounts of waste sheets.   In addition to the regular printing sheets, they will also supply what are called “spotter sheets” which are regular press sheets with dots added in the 4 main corners of the envelope. The cutter will place the die exactly on the spots on the sheet to ensure a consistent and accurate cut.   

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. We’ll continue in the next blog post.  In the meantime, if you’d like more information on envelope converting, custom envelope manufacturing or envelope printing for that matter, just go to www.eliteenvelope.com .

Topics: envelope converter, envelope converting basics, envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting

Envelope Converting Tip: Setting up the sheet for printing.

Posted by Jerry Velona on Jun 4, 2012 11:41:00 AM

One of the most common questions from printers who aren’t familiar with envelope converting is, “Where do I place the impression(s) on the sheet?”

An envelope converter will typically provide a layout to the printer which will show the proper placement of the unfolded envelopes on the sheet to be printed. “Print to the layout” is the short answer to these questions and will usually suffice.  

However, with the growth of digital printing as an economical way to print small-run 4-color jobs, converting jobs of under 5,000 are becoming more common. Digital printers are making customers aware that they can print as few as 500 letterhead and matching envelopes in 4 color process at a reasonable cost. The envelope component is typically printed on flat sheets and then converted for a minimum charge that is less than the cost of setting up a litho press with plates, etc.

In these cases, the printer will be using a small sheet with a one-up impression. The envelope converter will usually provide a die layout that doesn’t always show the proper position on the sheet.

In these cases, the standard rule is very simple. The printer must position the unfolded envelope impression 3/8” of an inch from two sides: typically the flap side will be one and one of the side seams the other.

envelope die cutting through paper 

Often, printers will assume that the envelope must be centered on the sheet. This looks neat and clean but it does not yield good results. The reason is that when the cookie-cutter style high-die cuts through the paper (see photo), it needs to break through the ream.  Envelope dies have a small metal piece screwed to the side in the shape of a small anvil. This is what slices through the paper as the die is pressed down. However, it needs to be positioned no more than ½” from the edge in order to work.

If the envelope impression is centered on the sheet, the “anvil” will not be close enough to the edge and the paper will buckle as it is cut. This will cause more variation in the folding. (See previous blog posts to get an explanation of variation in envelope converting).

So, by all means, print to the layout! But if the layout doesn’t show position, just make sure you place the impression no more than ½” from two sides of the sheet (3/8” is ideal) and you’ll be good to go.

Topics: Envelope variation, envelope converting, envelope converting layout, envelope die cutting, envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting tips

Envelope Converting Issue Du Jour

Posted by Jerry Velona on Nov 15, 2011 11:55:00 AM

Yes, as The Who famously sang, it’s “another tricky day” in the world of envelope converting and manufacturing.  I strongly suspect they were not referring to envelopes in that song, but hey, a hook is a hook!

I’m taking a break from handling a couple of very common problems to write this blog on the subject of one of them.  

The problem concerns the customer who is looking for a rush delivery on converting two thousand press sheets to a 9 x 12 booklet envelope with a peel and seal flap.  Aside from whether we can accommodate their stiff delivery requirements on the week before Thanksgiving, the main problem is that they printed the sheets to the layout provided from another converter.  Now that converter has told them they can’t make the delivery so they are asking us to do it. The copy on the face of the envelope doesn’t bleed to the edge so the printer is assuming that since a 9 x 12 envelope will always measure 9 x 12 (one of life’s certainties for sure) it shouldn’t be a problem.

But here’s where it gets tricky: when envelopes are die cut out of flat sheets, the die is lined up to the impression on the sheet. While 9 x 12 envelopes are always going to measure 9 x 12 after folding, the variable tends to be the size of the flap.  Standard size envelopes from various manufacturers are generally never identical when it comes to flap size.

elite envelope die cutting

Let’s say the flap on the layout they printed to is 1 ½ inches. If our flap is 2”, then the impression on the front of the envelope will be moved  ½” causing it not to line up properly.  We’re checking right now to see if we can come up with a comparable size on the die but if not, the printer is out of luck whether we can do the delivery or not. (We probably can, we’re good that way).

So, the moral of the story here is twofold: first, always try to print to the layout supplied by the vendor who is doing the converting. Secondly, and most importantly, always try to use Elite Envelope for your converting!

BTW, just found out that we can work with the layout AND do the delivery which includes peel and seal on the flap. OK, back to work now: see you next week.

Topics: elite envelope, envelope converting, envelope converting process, envelope die cutting, envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting tips, envelopes

Envelope Converting Tips and Mistakes

Posted by Jerry Velona on Aug 25, 2011 10:49:00 AM

In my previous post, we took the converting process from the point where the printer prepares the sheets and ships them to the envelope converter. Once the sheets are received, the envelope converting process actually begins.

The first step is die-cutting the envelope impressions (or blanks) out of the sheet.  The envelope company will use a steel die – resembling a cookie cutter (see picture below). This is also sometimes referred to as a “high die” as the sides are generally around 4 inches high to account for the size of the ream being cut.

 die cutting envelopes, Elite Envelope & Graphics, envelope converter

Depending on the quantity of the envelopes to be converted, the die-cutting will be either done by hand as the picture shows or in an automated fashion using a programmable hydraulic press (PHP).  The hands-on method allows for a little more accuracy and individual adjustments on cuts which can be improve the results on certain tricky jobs. Once the envelope blanks are cut out of the sheets, they are stacked and ready to be fed into the folding machine.  Each folding machine has a mechanic or “adjustor” who is responsible for setting up the equipment to run the various size envelopes with or without windows.  The adjustor constantly monitors the equipment and pulls off envelopes as they are being made to measure and check glue and other factors which are important to a properly constructed envelope.

Some tips to ensure a problem-free converting experience:

  • 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. Going by the layout and submitting a proof sheet for prior approval can prevent many of the most common errors.

 

  • 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.

 

  • 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.

Topics: Envelope variation, elite envelope, envelope converting, envelope converting layout, envelope die cutting, envelope converting mistakes, envelope converting tips

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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