Archive for category Paper

Curious About “Greening” Your Mail?

The USPS Asked In a Sustainability Campaign,

“How Green is Your Mail?”

Mailers have opportunities to decrease their environmental impact and any organization can implement these strategies. Oce Business Services shares these tips: images

  1. Manage Ink: When designing your mailpiece, choose fewer colors and less ink coverage/usage. This reduces chemicals used during the printing process.
  2. Think TransPromo: Create a document that combines transactional printing (think statement or invoice) with a marketing piece – all in one document and one envelope. In fact, USPS will have a 2015 promotion encouraging the use of TransPromo marketing.
  3. Paper Usage: Use a smaller font and/or decrease the margins in order to keep to a single page document. Can’t do it? Default to printing both sides (duplex). Going duplex can save you up to 50% on paper costs while serving the environment as well.
  4. Sourcing Paper: Choose paper stocks that come from managed forests. The Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certification supports responsible forestry; forests are audited for best practices and must meet strict guidelines. As well, this sends a clear message to your customers that you care about forests.
  5. Utilize Print on Demand: This concept has been around for years and centers on printing only what you need/when you need it. This eliminates waste caused by document obsolescence. As well, you could select a printer at or near your point of consumption, reducing or eliminating transportation costs.
  6. Mailing Lists: Updating your mailing list may be a challenge, but the cost savings and environmental impact is significant. It is estimated that 15% – 20% of individuals and businesses move each year. Reduce waste and eliminate the printing and postage costs of mail that is non-deliverable.

Has your organization implemented green initiatives in their mailing practices? What outcomes did you experience? We’d love to hear your stories!

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Paper | Coatings and Crackings

Coatings and Crackings

paperfoldtestEver received a brochure, booklet or other piece of mail that appears to be cracked along the folded edge? This sometimes occurs with full coverage ink or digital toner when the document is folded unless precautions are taken in advance.

There are three items to consider: Coated papers, toner vs ink and paper fiber orientation.

The Paper Factor

Ink soaks into uncoated paper and digital toner adheres to its rougher surface. Adhesion ability is reduced with a coated paper for both ink and toner. You may get the glossy or satiny finish you like, but you may also experience cracking through both layers – coating and ink or toner.

Specially coated papers will work with non-water-based inks and there are specific papers used with toner based printing.

Should I Choose Toner or Ink?

Most digital toners are made of plastic or wax powders that are fused to the paper using heat. Water or alcohol based inks are commonly used on home inkjet printers; these inks soak into uncoated paper before drying. Glossy printing on a home inkjet printer can only be done using specially coated photo papers.

Commercial printing presses use oily inks that adhere to the paper much like paint.

The Big One: Grain Orientation

Paper is made of wood or cotton fibers and are directed in one direction, although papers such as tissue or the 20# bond you probably use in your office are non-oriented.paperteartest

To determine the orientation of your paper do a tear test. Tearing with the grain produces neat, parallel strips, against the grain ends with ragged and unpredictably shaped pieces. Take a piece of paper and tear it both on the short end and the long end of the paper to test.

How to Reduce Cracking

For short print runs you will most likely want to choose digital printing. The first line of defense to prevent cracking of toner based pieces is to design without full toner coverage where the fold is to occur. Heavier stock such as card or cover, should be scored whether or not there is toner at the fold line.

Ask your printer if they have a stock that can be run with the grain oriented to fit your fold configuration. Often times a larger sheet paper can be used although the price may be a bit higher.

You could also employ the use of special coatings such as UV, varnish or aqueous. UV coating requires the use of a special ultraviolet light. All three options are available as either “spot” or “flood” coating.

Make sure to use your vendor’s expertise during design and paper selection. They will be able to steer you to the best possible outcome!

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USPS | Paper | Direct Mail – All Working Together!

Selecting The Right Paper When Designing Direct Mail!

When designing your fabulous direct mail piece, have you ever just fallen head-over-heels in love with a particular paper only to find out that it doesn’t meet certain USPS requirements? Or, worse, that you will have to pay increased postage just to mail it?

Selecting the right paper can make all the difference in how your mail piece is perceived and how well it travels through the mailstream.

There are a plethora of papers out there to choose from. Work with your designer, printer and mail house to choose a stock to make the best impression with your mail. Each of these people should provide insight into why a paper works or doesn’t work and how to effectively produce your job.

You should be aware of light reflectivity – there needs to be enough of a difference between the ink and the paper for USPS MLOCR equipment to read the address and barcode. This means no dark stock. And stock with fibers throughout, including some recycled papers, can cause problems with reading address as well.

A big decision will be whether to use coated or uncoated paper. 

For images with lots of detail, a coated paper offers a sharp, clean look. Coated paper also makes color “pop”. Think about the end use of your printed piece.  If it needs to be addressed after printing, make sure that the coating will not interfere with high-speed inkjet printers used by your mail house. 

Uncoated papers have become increasingly popular. They can “feel” formal, or very contemporary. If you are hand signing a card, for example, you want to use an uncoated paper. Uncoated paper also scores and folds a little better than coated papers and some digital presses “prefer” uncoated stock.

A visit to the local paper supplier is always fun; you’ll be bowled over by the shear number of papers available. But make sure to get input from your printer and mail house before you get too attached to a stock that won’t convey your message well or, worse, won’t look great in your recipient’s mail box!

For further details visit USPS® paper regulations for direct mail.

What are your favorite papers and how do you think they enhance your mail piece or company image? Or just share your war stories on paper choices gone awry. We’d love to hear them.

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Eliminate The “Paper Weight” Confusions!!

Let’s End the Confusion

In an effort to help eliminate the “Paper Weight” confusion problem, we have compiled the comprehensive table listed below. Now you can compare various types of paper and their “Equivalent Weights.”

Definitions:

  • Basis Weight The basis weight of a paper is the designated fixed weight of 500 sheets, measured in pounds, in that paper’s basic sheet size. It is important to note that the “basic sheet size” is not the same for all types of paper.
  • Caliper Caliper refers to the thickness of a sheet of paper expressed in thousandth of an inch. This measurement is taken with a micro meter. Normally, paper caliper should not have more than a + or – 5% variance within a sheet. Generally, the relation between caliper and basis weight…the greater the caliper (the thicker the paper), the greater the paper weight.
  • Equivalent Weight While different paper types have different basic sizes, papers can still be compared by using equivalent weight.

The Values in the table below are intended to serve as a guide only. They should not be used as specifications because there are variances within the same basis weight due to other characteristics of the papers. Similar weight papers may vary between different paper manufacturers.

  • The darker colored boxes above represent the “most common paper weights” for that category.
  • Normalpaper manufacturing tolerance within a paper production run is + or – 5% to 7% caliper
  • This Table was compiled by Micro Format, Inc.
  • Copyright 1997-2011 Micro Format, Inc. –Wheeling,IL 60091

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Got Freemium?

FREEMIUMS! GET YOUR STRAHM FREEMIUMS!

SF-Enjoy-LongThe term freemium is coined using two powerful words ‘Free’ and ‘Premium’.

What is Strahm offering? Click here to find out!

From time to time, we like to ask customers if we’re delivering the highest level of quality on jobs and service. As part of the Freemium program, we’ve put together a quick, three question survey.

Once you complete the survey you will then be given access to our online store. Here you can choose your favorite Freemium, Accordion Pix or the 3-D Cube. They both allow you to upload your personal images to display and showoff on your desk!

SF-ApixAccordion Pix: An irresistibly fun way to display your photos at work. Accordion Pix allows you to upload seven images so you can show off all your favorites!

SF-3Dcube3-D Cube: A playful alternative to the traditional ways of displaying your photos at work. With this 3-D Cube you can display five images so you’ll have more of your favorites in view. Customize and express yourself in 3D!

(Ask how Strahm can help you with a Freemium Appreciation for your clients)

On Thursday, September 19th Strahm sent out a self-mailer to everyone on our mailing list. The self-mailer contains a QR code to scan, and a pURL you can use in your web browser.

On Monday, September 23rd Strahm sent out a blast email to all of our email contacts. The email contains a link to their pURL. They will simply click on it and go to their personalized page.

Make sure you’re on Strahm’s mailing list to take part in our next Freemium. Visit our website to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, or just send an email with all your contact information to webmaster@strahm.com.

Today is your chance to participate! Act fast, only 500 Freemiums available!!!! CLICK HERE NOW and check out the Strahm Freemium campaign for yourself … Enjoy!

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Direct Mail Marketing Program | Postcards

Direct Mail Postcards

LandScape_growth-LOGOIt’s Spring, except in Kansas City where it’s snowing today, and a good time to think about your direct mail marketing program. Especially for spring/summer seasonal businesses (think lawn service, tree trimming, wedding planners, nurseries) your time to act on a mailing is now.

A terrific way to get your message into customers and prospects hands is with a well crafted postcard. Postcards are inexpensive to produce, have a short message for a quick review by the recipient, and convenient for the recipient to keep/store on refrigerator or cork board for example.

As with all direct mail marketing, you should carefully consider your message (clear, concise), your offer (free trial, time limited discount) and your mailing list (clean out those undeliverable addresses before you mail, ask your mail provider to run an NCOA process to update addresses).

It is also important to make sure you meet the USPS rules for postcards in order to get that great postage rate. The current rate for a single piece postcard is $0.33 and you will want to work with your mailing service to get a discounted automation rate.

Here are some of the postcard basics –

  • Physical Characteristics postcards
    • Minimum size 3 ½” x 5”
    • Maximum size 4 ¼” x 6”
    • Minimum thickness .007”
    • Maximum thickness .0095”
  • Must be rectangular in shape
    • Length must be greater than height
    • Aspect ratio (length divided by height) between 1.3 and 2.5
    • Example: 3 ½” x 5” = aspect ratio of 1.4
  • Print Contrast
    • Preference is dark type on light paper
    • Recommend light pastels or neutrals
    • Avoid dark, bright or black papers
    • Avoid dark fibers
    • Avoid bleed through
  • No polywrap, polybag or shrink wrapping please!
  • Barcode clear zone
    • 5/8” from bottom edge
    • Extending 4 ¾” from right edge
    • This entire area must be kept free of logos, verbiage, etc
    • This is the conventional barcode placement although the barcode may be printed above or below the address block as well
  • OCR Address Read Area
    • Begins ½” in from left and right edges of mailpiece
    • Extends up 2 ¾” from bottom of mailpiece
    • Don’t forget to leave the bottom 5/8” of the mailpiece clear for the barcode!
  • Address Format

Sue Sample
ABC Company
123 Main Street
Anytown, MO  ZIP+4

  • Preferred Type Fonts

texts

 

 

 

Get started today and get those postcards in the mail!

  • Clean up your mailing list
  • Decide on a message – make it clean and simple
  • Come up with a great offer
  • Design your postcard to get the best postage rates
  • Consider the use of color, or even colored cardstock, and UV gloss coating for extra “pop”
  • Measure response rates – you may need to make adjustments to your list, message or offer for future mailings

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USPS | Paper | Direct Mail – All Working Together!

Selecting The Right Paper When Designing Direct Mail!

When designing your fabulous direct mail piece, have you ever just fallen head-over-heels in love with a particular paper only to find out that it doesn’t meet certain USPS requirements? Or, worse, that you will have to pay increased postage just to mail it?

Selecting the right paper can make all the difference in how your mail piece is perceived and how well it travels through the mailstream.

There are a plethora of papers out there to choose from. Work with your designer, printer and mail house to choose a stock to make the best impression with your mail. Each of these people should provide insight into why a paper works or doesn’t work and how to effectively produce your job.

You should be aware of light reflectivity – there needs to be enough of a difference between the ink and the paper for USPS MLOCR equipment to read the address and barcode. This means no dark stock. And stock with fibers throughout, including some recycled papers, can cause problems with reading address as well.

A big decision will be whether to use coated or uncoated paper. 

For images with lots of detail, a coated paper offers a sharp, clean look. Coated paper also makes color “pop”. Think about the end use of your printed piece.  If it needs to be addressed after printing, make sure that the coating will not interfere with high-speed inkjet printers used by your mail house. 

Uncoated papers have become increasingly popular. They can “feel” formal, or very contemporary. If you are hand signing a card, for example, you want to use an uncoated paper. Uncoated paper also scores and folds a little better than coated papers and some digital presses “prefer” uncoated stock.

A visit to the local paper supplier is always fun; you’ll be bowled over by the shear number of papers available. But make sure to get input from your printer and mail house before you get too attached to a stock that won’t convey your message well or, worse, won’t look great in your recipient’s mail box!

For further details visit USPS® paper regulations for direct mail.

What are your favorite papers and how do you think they enhance your mail piece or company image? Or just share your war stories on paper choices gone awry. We’d love to hear them.

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USPS Automation Compatible Mail Specifications!

Meet USPS Automation Compatible Mail Specifications!

You’ve made the decision to use a mail service provider to presort your mail in order to take advantage of lower postage rates. Good decision!

Automation Benefits:

  • Greater postage discount
  • Faster mail processing
  • Better, more consistent service

Now you need to know what specifications your mail must meet in order to be considered automation compatible by the USPS.

Designing for Automation (First Class Letters and Postcards): 

    • Physical Characteristics Letters
      • Minimum size 3 ½” x 5”
      • Maximum size 6 1/8” x 11 ½”
      • Minimum thickness .007”
      • Maximum thickness .25”
    • Physical Characteristics postcards
      • Minimum size 3 ½” x 5”
      • Maximum size 4 ¼” x 6”
      • Minimum thickness .007”
      • Maximum thickness .0095”
    • Must be rectangular in shape
      • Length must be greater than height
      • Aspect ratio (length divided by height) between 1.3 and 2.5
      • Example: 5” x 9” mailpiece 9 divided by 5 = 1.8
    • Must meet rigidity and flexibility standards
    • Tabbing for Self-mailers and Booklets
    • No polywrap, polybag or shrink wrapping please!
    • Barcode clear zone
      • 5/8”  from bottom edge
      • Extending 4 ¾” from right edge
      • This entire area must be kept free of logos, verbiage, etc
      • This is the conventional barcode placement although the barcode may be printed above or below the address block as well
    • OCR Address Read Area
      • Begins ½” in from left and right edges of mailpiece
      • Extends up 2 ¾” from bottom of mailpiece
      • Don’t forget to leave the bottom 5/8” of the mailpiece clear for the barcode!
    • Return Address Area
      • Within left half of mailpiece
      • Top 1/3 of mailpiece
    • Preferred Type Fonts
      • Century
      • Arial
      • Univers
      • Trade Gothic
    • Address Format

Sue Sample
ABC Company
123 Main Street
Anytown, MO  ZIP+4

      • Address Tap Test (address readability through envelope window)
        • Mail using a window envelope must show complete address, with 1/8” clearance at top, bottom and both sides of window
        • Test address placement with two taps on bottom and two taps on each end – address should remain within window with 1/8” clear space

      • Print Contrast
        • Preference is dark type on light paper
        • Recommend light pastels or neutrals
        • Avoid dark, bright or black papers
        • Avoid dark fibers
        • Avoid bleed through

Is your mail automation compatible so that you take advantage of the best postage discounts?  Where could you make improvements?

As always, if you have questions or need more information, please contact one of Strahm’s Customer Service Representatives.  They can be reached at custserv@strahm.com or (816) 756-2733.

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USPS Approved: Two-Way ecoEnvelope

Cut your envelopes in half?

Don’t go grabbing for the scissors.  The ingenious, two-way ecoEnvelope is the answer.

Ann DeLaVergne, founder of ecoEnvelopes, and always environmentally conscious, was looking for a way to re-use envelopes she received in the mail.  Finding the practice difficult to say the least, she developed her own two-way envelope (she used a sewing machine, folks!).

More than 80 billion reply envelopes are used annually in the United States alone.  The ecoEnvelope is essentially an outer envelope with a reply envelope built right in.  Not only are you reducing environmental impact, but you should also see cost savings by eliminating the need to print BRE or CRE.

According to the Center for Environmental Innovation, each million ecoEnvelopes mailed results in the following environmental benefits:

  • Wood saved: 43 tons
  • Wastewater Avoided: 123,989 gallons
  • Solid Waste Eliminated:  14,809 pounds
  • Hazardous Air Pollutants Avoided: 14 pounds
  • Total Energy Conserved:  249 million BTUs

These envelopes are USPS approved, produced with FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) or SFI (Sustainable Forestry Initiative) material and are 30% post-consumer waste for the stock items.  They play well with inserting, remittance and USPS postal processing equipment.

Two-way envelopes speak volumes in your commitment to “greening your mail” while sending a clear message to your customers that you care about the environment.  Why not give them a try on your next mailing?

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How Green Is Your Mail?

Curious About “Greening” Your Mail?

The USPS asked in a sustainability campaign, “How Green is Your Mail?”

Mailers have opportunities to decrease their environmental impact and any organization can implement these strategies.  Oce Business Services shares these tips:

  1. Manage Ink:  When designing your mailpiece, choose fewer colors and less ink coverage/usage.  This reduces chemicals used during the printing process.
  2. Think TransPromo: Create a document that combines transactional printing (think statement or invoice) with a marketing piece – all in one document and one envelope.
  3. Paper Usage:  Use a smaller font and/or decrease the margins in order to keep to a single page document.  Can’t do it?  Default to printing both sides (duplex).  Going duplex can save you up to 50% on paper costs while serving the environment as well.
  4. Sourcing Paper:  Choose paper stocks that come from managed forests.  The Sustainable Forest Initiative (SFI) certification supports responsible forestry; forests are audited for best practices and must meet strict guidelines.  As well, this sends a clear message to your customers that you care about forests.
  5. Utilize Print on Demand:  This concept has been around for years and centers on printing only what you need/when you need it.  This eliminates waste caused by document obsolescence.  As well, you could select a printer at or near your point of consumption, reducing or eliminating transportation costs.
  6. Mailing Lists:  Updating your mailing list may be a challenge, but the cost savings and environmental impact is significant.  It is estimated that 15% – 20% of individuals and businesses move each year.  Reduce waste and eliminate the printing and postage costs of mail that is non-deliverable.

Has your organization implemented green initiatives in their mailing practices?  What outcomes did you experience?  We’d love to hear your stories!

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