Posts Tagged ‘commercial printing’

Environmentally-responsible printers

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

Mix Creative has relationships with several environmentally responsible printers that participate in the Printing Industry of Minnesota’s Great Printer Environmental Initiative, a voluntary effort by printers to demonstrate their commitment to minimize their company’s impact on human health and the environment while producing quality printed products for their customers. According to the Printing Industry of Minnesota’s website, Great Printers go beyond what is required by government regulatory agencies in environmental, health and safety compliance. Great Printers are green printers, and must meet the following criteria:

1) Sign the PIM Great Printer Environmental Initiative Principles.
This commits the company to:complying with all applicable environmental, health and safety requirements; going beyond compliance by minimizing wastes, reusing or recycling waste that cannot be prevented and maximizing energy efficiency; and pursuing continuous environmental, health and safety improvements.

2) Complete an Environmental, Health & Safety Compliance Audit annually or once every 36 months if they have a written and effective environmental management system ( EMS) in place that meets the PIM Great Printer Environmental Initiative EMS Plan Requirements.

3) Pursue Beyond Compliance Projects:
The company must have completed at least one beyond compliance project within the last five years and must currently be working on at least two other beyond compliance projects, one beyond compliance project if a company is renewing their participation in the initiative.  Beyond compliance projects are those projects that a company undertakes that have either an environmental
or an employee health or safety benefit to them.

To read more about the Great Printer Environmental Initiative, and to find additional printers not listed here, please visit the Printing Industry of Minnesota’s website:

Mix Creative recommends the following printers, all of which are FSC certified and voluntary members of the Great Printer Environmental Initiative:

Bolger Vision Beyond Print
Minneapolis, MN
Rep: Tammy Sly, 651.334.0739

Shapco Printing
Minneapolis, MN
Rep: Dana Hackett, 612.278.1534

Visions Print Communications
Plymouth, MN
Rep: Stuart Weeldryer, 612.701.7769

We also recommend:
Upfront Printing
In addition to being FSC certified, UpFront is innovative in finding ways to reduce waste throughout the printing process, while also using sustainable fibers and inks.
Minneapolis, MN
Rep: Mark Toskey, 612.884.0204

An addendum:

Yay! Since I wrote this post, I received an e-newsletter from—one of my go-to sites for inexpensive printing—saying they are now a green printer. You can read more about it on their website. This is great news to me, because it means that environmentally-friendly printing doesn’t just need to be for premium press jobs.

Printing Revolution: Digital and Online Printers

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

It used to be that if you wanted to have something printed, you would either have to go to a commercial printer, who would print it on a 4-color press, or you’d go to Kinko’s and have it copied. This worked well for large companies with big budgets, or for community groups who didn’t have a need for an upscale brand, but where did the small business owners fit in?

Two major changes have occurred in the printing industry that have suddenly given small business owners the tools to create marketing materials that are comparable to expensive commercial printing: digital printing and online printers.

First is the development of digital printing. This process doesn’t require the creation of printing plates and multiple runs through a press, greatly reducing staff time and resources to print. Instead, much like a desktop printer, the digital file is received by the machine, which then churns out the printed piece. Digital printers either use ink or toner that forms a thin layer on the surface of the paper (unlike lithographic inks, which absorb into the substrate). More advanced digital machines closely mimic the look of a press-printed piece, using four color dot patterns. And more and more digital printers are accommodating larger sheet sizes, to allow for printing of longer brochures and folded pieces. Unlike commercial presses, they are great for low quantities—which can mean significantly lower prices for small business owners. These are a great option for small businesses printing less than 1000 of business cards, brochures, or postcards, for example. And because every printed impression comes from a file, and not a plate, digital printing can accommodate variable data, allowing for customization.

A few years back, online printers became another huge asset to small business owners. Many use digital printing to keep prices down. Others specialize in certain products, which allow them to keep standard die cuts (ex. for folder printing) on hand, eliminating the need for custom plates to be created. Other online printers use gang runs, combining multiple print jobs of small quantities on the same press to pass along savings to everyone. All of this means savings, smaller quantities, and more choices for small business owners.

All printers are not created equal, however. One client discovered that business cards are a fraction of an inch smaller on each side than standard business cards. His cards were lost in card holders among his competitors!

Ask for samples of digital printing from commercial printers before you buy. Many will even run a proof of your piece for you to approve before you print. Call ahead to make sure a commercial printer offers digital printing. Many are beginning to specialize.

For online printers, it’s much the same. Request samples from the printer by mail before you use them. Or, order a small quantity the first time and see if you like it. Check their customer satisfaction policy and make sure they’ll reprint if you’re not satisfied with the outcome. Pay attention to paper weight, coatings, and sizes. Use the templates they provide and request a digital proof.

Here is a brief list of online printers I’ve used and recommend: (business cards, postcards, and brochures) (love their business cards) (great for folders!) (upscale busines cards).

For large runs, special finishes, and unusually-shaped pieces, the commercial printing press is still the best choice for quality and economy. Think about your audience when deciding how to print, and plan for the printing budget at the start of the project. Your designer can help you weigh the different options, provide the print-ready files, and facilitate communication with your printer.