Trade printing’s evolution over the last few decades means the process involved has become a seamless and extensive one. However, the many forms that fall under the umbrella, and the number of options available means understanding what’s on offer can be tricky. We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide to all you need to know about trade printing, from the processes involved, to the items that can be produced – learn what type of paper suits your project best, the procurement journey and even how to locate the right trade printer in your area.
1. Product: knowing what’s on offer
A good trader printer can accurately pinpoint what options will be available within your budget. Whirlwind Print’s sophisticated online quoting system can accurately quote around a million product options. Trade printers equipped with the right technology can help outline the best price for the restrictions you’re working with. Moreover, the number of formats that we can take on as professionals gives you plenty of flexibility to work with. Some of the most common forms of trade printing include:
- business cards
- custom notepads
- custom packaging
- custom letterheads
- presentation folders
- magnet printing
- tent cards, and
- compliments slips.
The plethora of formats a trade printer can take on is significant, but as a business, you’re likely to need your daily essentials taken care of.
Your business card is the mirror to your brand. While your website may put your offering on show, your card is likely to still be the first impression to many prospects, stakeholders and partners that you come across along the way. Think of it as putting your company image in someone else’s hand. Ensuring you have a quality trade printer to craft you appealing business cards at an economical price is critical to your overall brand strategy.
Suitable for events, special announcements, internal communication and amplification of your primary messages, posters are a go-to for all businesses. Custom posters are available at Whirlwind Print from size A1 to A4, with options to be printed on paper or artboard.
A perennial office need, trade printers are able to create envelopes in a huge array of sizes. Choose from standard –whether window, plain face or flap style – or even opt for a complete stationery set on coordinating paper to match.
Metallic and gold foil printing
Bling is now a thing, rising with popularity over a number industries in the professional world. Mostly used for promotional purposes, gold and metallic foil printing is perfect for adding that extra edge to promotional products and other printed items. A little ‘wow factor’ goes a long way in the marketing field, so why not show off what you’ve got to say?
When consumers are faced with two brochures offering the same service at the same price, yet one has put thought and effort into the brochure itself, the conversion is likely to go towards the latter. Brochures that are visually attractive are far more likely to garner the attention of prospects, creating long-lasting influence and potential loyalty. Moreover, you’re representing the effort your brand puts into its own image, so coming off as professional, appealing and trusted is paramount. Your aim? To not land in the bin.
2. Process: choosing the right method
There are two main printing methods you can choose from: offset printing and digital printing. However, the choice you make between these methods will be determined by your project needs. Both choices provide high-quality finished products, but each approach is best suited to certain jobs. Here’s what you need to know:
Offset printing – sometimes called offset lithography or litho-offset – is the traditional method of commercial printing that most people are familiar with, and has been around since the UK first patented it in the 1870s.
The process involves the use of aluminium plates, which transfer an image onto a rubber ‘blanket’ before it is rolled onto the stock, delivering the image onto it. The printing is called ‘offset’ because it doesn’t involve the ink being directly applied to the paper. Due to the plates being used to transfer the image countless times, offset printing is great for large print runs, offering economies of scale.
It’s also a very flexible method of printing, enabling the use of a wide range of paper types, and even allowing production onto surfaces such as cloth, metal or wood. Printing onto materials with custom finishes can also be easily handled. Apart from the ability to print on custom papers and materials, specialty inks such as metallics or fluorescents can also be used, as well as Pantone colours – great if you have a brand-specific Pantone colour you wish to use. Colour fidelity is accurate, and the print job achieves a sophisticated, professional presentation with the highest possible printing quality.
As technology has advanced in leaps and bounds over the past few decades, so too has the quality of digital commercial printing. With digital printing, there are no plates or rubber blankets involved. Instead, either toner or liquid ink is applied directly to the paper. It’s a more inexpensive option than offset printing, and is often more suitable for small businesses because it allows a lower minimum print run.
The biggest advantage of digital printing is that you can individually customise products during the process. For items which need to be personalised (for example, those requiring a unique code or number to be printed on them), digital printing is the best option, as offset printing doesn’t offer this flexibility. It’s also the most cost-effective choice for black and white projects.
Decorative finishes give you the opportunity to pack a little more of a punch on your end-product. There’s a large range of finishes you can choose, all which are able to add value to your project and equipping them with a striking, premium appearance. Whether it’s adding aesthetic touches through embossing or foiling, or improving practicality and efficiency through binding, laminating or folding, the range of finishing processes at trade printers is expansive.
- folding (A7 to A1
- forme cutting
- round cornering
- shrink wrapping
- saddle stitching, and more.
A correctly chosen finish is an ideal way to add impact and go the extra mile towards bringing your product to life. Depending on your budget, the purpose of your product, and your own aesthetic preferences, trade printers can direct you into understanding which one will best suit.
3. Paper: what stock suits best?
Paper – also known as ‘stock’ – comes in a huge range of textures, weights, thicknesses and finishes, and it can be hard to know exactly which one’s most suitable for your needs.
Trade printers, like Whirlwind, offer a range of paper types to choose from, as well as stock selector kits which help you choose the correct option for your job.
While there are plenty of types to pick and choose from, the most economical choice is bond – which is great for stationery. However, there are also many different coated and uncoated paper types, which all deliver a stunning bright white finish. Coated stocks can come in gloss, satin/silk or matte options, and have a higher quality feel, making them perfect for promotional materials.
Trade printers can also produce work on artboard, for projects that require added durability. Or for a greener option, recycled paper can also be opted for. Options like plastic card, textured paper and metallic stock can also be added into the mix. Top it all off with some fridge magnets (also a form of stock) and you’re good to go.
Finding the right size
Apart from paper type, you’ll need to choose the appropriate size. Experts like ours can help you match the right fit to your project, but you’ll need to have the vision of your end-product in mind.
Similarly, you’ll need to make a choice about stock thickness or weight value. This is measured in GSM (grams per square metre) and the higher the GSM, the stronger and better quality the stock will be. For the most common business applications, standard paper weights are usually 75-100GSM. To put it in perspective, most newspapers are printed on 35-55GSM paper, while business cards are typically as thick as 350GSM.
Certain weights of stock are most suitable for particular types of printed items. For instance, brochures, flyers, envelopes and letterheads are best printed on a cheap, light stock (usually 90-100GS). Items like posters or calendars are usually best printed on 115-170GSM, while booklets achieve the best result on stock of 200-250GSM. Promotional cards and business cards are ideally printed on a durable stock of 300-420GSM.
4. Procurement: navigating the ordering system
As businesses, finding the time to get away from your desk is a challenge. But thanks to that nifty internet of ours, printing your job doesn’t have to be a huge hassle. Whirldwind Print’s fully online procurement process allows your to order from the convenience of your office 24/7, and provides a simple end-to-end suite for your project.
Manage your print order entirely online – from obtaining a quote and comparing prices, to placing the order, tracking it and organising delivery. Simply sign into your account, enter your print specifications, click ‘Get a Price’, add your margins and pop in your delivery details. Click ‘Checkout’, upload your artwork and finalise your order.
Once the job is in our system, you can sign in anytime to view the status of your order by checking the ‘View Orders’ area (in the top menu bar). Filter your jobs to view progress and status, the pricing and job quote, the date the job was accepted, and the despatch date.
Access to our file management system allows you to personalise your order, organise your files, customise your default settings and save favourite projects for ongoing tracking. You can view your order history and download it for reference or to make repeat orders or easy.
While our online printing system is user-friendly and intuitive, one of our Key Account Managers can also provide training and documentation to help you get used to using the platform efficiently.
5. Finding the right printer: oh, the places we’ll go
Discovering the right printer for the job can take you on a wide search. But as trusted trade printers offering solutions Australia-wide, we provide services to businesses, creative agencies and franchises from one corner of the country to the other. No matter your exact location, we’re able to service areas across Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth and Canberra, and everywhere in-between. Add to that our online ordering service and you can ditch the need to go on a hunt for a local printer to complete your job.
We’ve designed our business to be client-focused, provide outstanding service, affordable prices, personalised account management. As a result, we’re able to garner the highest quality digital imaging and colour management solutions for our customers, putting the finishing touch on the process with our tailored quotes and price transparency.