Posted By Seamus Barton
Latest Letterhead Printing Techniques
Business and commercial documents typically feature a heading at the top of the sheet of paper showing the name of the organization, logo, brand, address, and watermark at the centre of the page, all of which make up the letterhead or notepad. Your company’s letterhead acts as the visual representation of your business and brand, and can easily communicate who you are and your business specialty.
Printing letterheads is an essential technique for any business looking to produce professional stationery, including invoices, quotations, purchase orders, and agreements. Effective design, quality stock, and proper printing techniques are necessary to create an eye-catching letterhead that not only reminds people of your brand but also conveys important company information.
A well-printed letterhead that has a successful layout and quality paper speaks volumes to the recipient even before they read the content. A presentable image makes your organization more attractive to other businesses. It’s important to use the right letterhead printing technique, one that can be used with photocopiers or printers and can be kept for long periods of time without losing its quality, allowing your brand to remain visible for years.
Letterhead Printing Methods
There are several different letterhead printing methods depending on the type of artwork you’re looking to print. Infographic content is typically printed using offset and digital printing methods. But for the best printing, you must use high-quality images of at least 300 DPI. For text and vector design, you can choose screen printing, where each colour is printed separately. This process is, however, time-consuming and costly. To produce eye-catching letterheads, you can use other printing techniques, like embossing or leaf printing, among others.
Here are the most common letterhead printing methods:
Flat Printing, Offset Printing or Lithography
Flat printing is a modern print technique for producing high-quality and professional-looking letterheads, business cards, and other business and commercial print products.
Litho printing technology uses a printer to burn the designs onto metal plates of different colours. Next, the aluminum plates transfer the design onto rubber rolls. Different ink colours are spread onto the rubber, after which the paper is run between the rolls, layering on the colour until the final image is produced. Basically, ink is transferred from a plate to a rubber “blanket”, and then to the printing surface.
This technique is called offset printing because the ink is not transferred directly onto the paper. It is mostly recommended for bulk production, as it can quickly print 5,000 to 10,000 letterheads or more with precise colour reproduction and a clean, professional look.
This method is ideal for printing watermarks because it allows the ink to settle into the paper much more effectively than with digital printers. The finish is also quite smooth.
Advantages of offset printing include:
- Cost-effective for printing large quantities
- Can be used with different types of paper for custom finishes
- Ability to use custom inks, including metallic and Pantone colours
Exceptional printing quality with superior colour fidelity and detail
With lithography, you must remember to convert the files from RGB to CMYK for high-quality offset print job. This is to match the standard number of plates for each colour used: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black — or CMYK.
Digital printing is just as popular as lithographic printing, though it is more economical for producing small quantities of between 500 to 1000 copies. This method is also ideal when looking to print variable data, for example, when you have to change the name, address, or promo code for each piece. Offset printing does not offer such flexibility.
However, the biggest challenge for digital letterhead printing is that it’s limited by the type of printers that can be used. Digital printing relies on heat to fuse the toner to the paper. Although this does not pose any problems when printing brochures and flyers because they’re in their finished state, the fact that letterheads will be fed back through a printer to produce invoices, memos, and other business documents means that the paper will get reheated.
Reheating a letterhead that has been digitally printed could lead to serious problems, such as the letterhead getting smudged or stuck to the toner and damaging the printer mechanism. Fortunately, these problems can be avoided by choosing the right printer. For instance, you can use dot matrix and inkjet printers that don’t rely on heat for the printing process and avoid laser printers that are found in most office environments.
Some advantages of digital printing include:
- Fast turnaround
- Low set up costs for short runs, including 1, 2, or 50 pieces
- Flexible production, where you can print small amounts when needed
- Low cost black and white digital printing
- Variable data capability
Although digital printing is a newer approach, it can only be used with a few paper types. It also has less colour fidelity because the printer uses standard inks that may not necessarily match all the colours in the design.
Raised Printing or Thermography
As the name suggests, this printing technique produces raised print images, giving your stationery a distinguished look. This method is typically used for printing certain types of graphics where the raised image stands out on the letterhead, giving you a textured graphic similar to an engraving.
In thermography, designs are created using wet ink. A powder is then applied to the paper, after which the printer attaches the powder to the ink using resin. Next, the stationery is heated and allowed to cool as the powder and resin set, producing a raised design.
Choosing a Printing Technique
There are other printing techniques that can be used, including engraving, embossing, foil stamping, letterpress, and screen printing.
When choosing a method to print your business or commercial letterheads, you should consider the pros and cons of each technique. Most small businesses only need small quantities of letterheads, so digital printing may be the most viable option. But you may need to consider other options depending on the number of pieces required, design colours, available time to print, size of the image, available equipment, after-print requirements, and your budget.
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