Once a leaflet design is approved, all you have to do is sit back and wait for the perfectly printed copies to arrive on your doorstep a few days later. However, this simple wait hides what is quite a complex and technical process. The printing.
Far from sending something straight from the computer through a printer like at home, the commercial printing process for printing leaflets, flyers, brochures, catalogues etc contains many stages – each prone to technical and human error. Here is the typical journey of an Add Design leaflet from customer approval to delivery.
Once a design has been approved, our graphic designer needs to convert it from a draft file suitable for the customer to view to a print-ready file ready to go to press. This can involve a number of alterations including; the enhancing of images (to make sure they come out perfectly in print), the wholesale change of colour from RGB to CMYK (the colour mode required for printing), the addition of bleed around the artwork (to avoid white edges on the final copies), the conversion of text to vector lines (to make sure text is reproduced perfectly), and even the creation of a template if unusual cutting, punching or finishing is required.
This preparation process has to be meticulous to make sure nothing in the leaflet design is moved and that no mistakes are made which will affect the quality of the final printed leaflets
As soon as the file reaches the print stage it is put through the RIP. The RIP converts the artwork file into the language which the printing presses will understand. After the RIP a proof may be requested and checked by our designers to make sure that the artwork has converted properly and that no data has disappeared during the translation process.
Now comes the printing. We use two primary print methods – Lithographic Print and Digital Print. Each process is very different, and can produce very different results – even from exactly the same artwork file.
Lithographic is usually used for longer print runs and multi-page documents as it is much more cost effective for larger print jobs than digital. It is also a much more complex process. For lithographic prints individual printing plates have to be made for the leaflet – one for each of the 4 colours used in the printing process (Cyan-Magenta-Yellow-Black). Using ink, water and other chemicals these 4 plates are rolled through the printing presses, transferring the ink perfectly on each pass from rollers to paper.
Obviously to ensure quality everything has to be precise – the creation of the plates, the quantity of the ink, the position on the press, the way that it is dried. Even too much dust in the atmosphere can negatively effect the end result. The colour is also difficult and cannot be guaranteed. With lithographic printing it is not practical to put through one copy and see how it turns out. Everything must be set-up and then the print-run completed. The smallest variation in the amount of ink on one colour can change the colour on the final item dramatically.
The Digital Printing process is much closer to printing at home – except the machines are a lot bigger and work a lot faster. Unlike the lithographic process there is minimal set-up and less can go wrong – although digital presses are always liable to technical problems as well as mechanical ones. Without the costly plate creation process of Lithographic print you can also do short print-runs and do individual customisation on every copy. However, the finish is not as smooth as traditional printing and once the print-run increases it simply can’t match lithographic print on price.
If the leaflet requires a finish such as lamination, spot UV or die-cutting then this is usually a whole additional process requiring specialist machinery. If the requirements are complex then an order may be sent out to a Finishing House for finishing before being brought back to the print shop for cutting and packaging.
Cutting & Packaging
Now the leaflets are printed, and finished, but are still on the giant sheets which are fed through the printers. An industrial guillotine is used to trim the leaflets to their final size. The cutting has to be absolutely precise to make sure that all the leaflets are perfectly square and that the edges are perfectly clean.
Dispatch & Delivery
Each order is then checked and hand packaged into boxes ready for dispatch by courier or directly to the customer by van.
Leaflet Design Printing – Add Design specialise in leaflet design and printing. Our excellent value graphic design packages include bespoke graphic design work, high quality colour printing and UK wide delivery. We can also deliver to international destinations for a small additional charge. Click here to read more about our leaflet design service.