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Choosing Paper Stocks for Offset and Digital Printing

Karen Weil

Choosing the best paper stock for direct mail campaigns can be a challenging process. While there’s no universal answer to which paper is best for your direct mail package, one thing to keep in mind is the type of press it will be printed on.  There are specific considerations for both offset and digital presses.

Offset Presses

Generally speaking, there are fewer concerns about paper stock with offset printing. They can more readily accommodate a wide range of stocks, both coated and uncoated. They can also handle all types of paper finishes without running into challenges – something which cannot be said about digital presses.

Digital Presses

Choosing the right paper stock for digital printing gets a bit more complicated. All paper choices must be individually qualified and profiled. Digital presses have different capabilities, which means multiple variables should be considered before choosing your paper stock. There are two types of digital printers – laser and inkjet. Most laser (toner-based) digital presses, such as our Xerox iGens, handle a wide range of papers, including coated stock.

Most inkjet devices require paper stocks that are treated to better support the type of ink being used (pigment- vs. dye-based). And you’ll typically want to avoid coated paper stocks unless the inkjet device uses UV-curable ink. Some digital press manufacturers offer a pre-treat unit, which provides a special coating that is applied prior to digital imaging and makes the paper stock perform better. Our own Océ ColorStream 3500 (continuous) digital press uses inkjet technology and runs best with stocks made especially for inkjet printers.

Here are some other things to keep in mind when working with your printing rep to choose the best stock for your campaign:

  • Determine the paper stock early in the project and understand the processes that will take place after initial printing (i.e. digital personalization, folding, foil stamping, embossing and inserting).
  • Determine the expected shelf-life of the product. This will influence your choice.
  • Keep stock thickness in mind when evaluating USPS mailing requirements for post cards or reply cards. Other considerations are the process/machine’s capabilities and whether the package will be printed on one or two sides.

As you can see, choosing the right paper stocks requires an assessment of several variables. Our customers continue to rely on us for our expertise in direct mail production. Stay on the lookout for more information on paper stock considerations in the future and don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d love to make the decision process easier for you.

link https://www.iwco.com/blog/2012/10/05/paper-stocks/
Karen Weil


Karen Weil

Director of Procurement and graduate of Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University, Mankato). Bringing the “together we can achieve excellence” philosophy to IWCO Direct for more than 15 years and the direct marketing industry for nearly 35. Favorite award or recognition: Raising three terrific boys. Enjoys photography, reading, and watching Minnesota Wild, Gopher Hockey, and Minnesota Loon games.

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