Choosing the right paper stock is an important consideration for any direct mail campaign. It may seem like a simple task, but there are a number of variables that enter into the equation. It’s important to take into account the type of printing and ink coverage, as well as all processes the paper will go through. These include scoring, embossing, stamping, folding, affixing and inserting, just to name a few! Often times these processes call for special paper, and you also have to factor in the purpose of the final product and the mailing requirements of your campaign. It’s always wise to consider the substrate early in the process for best results!
Fortunately, our sales team works closely with our clients to understand their needs and makes recommendations for appropriate stocks to use in their campaigns. However, it’s always important to have a high-level understanding of the paper market, so here are a few of the trends to be aware of:
- Pricing Pressures. Like most things, the cost of paper fluctuates. Changes in input costs can impact pricing and weather can impact these raw material costs. We’ve already seen an increase in coated products this year and the industry may experience another increase mid-year. The timing of potential capacity reductions may determine increases for uncoated later this year.
- Increase in Supporting Sustainability Initiatives. We are seeing an increase in demand for environmentally-friendly stocks. As the economy continues to pick up, there are more opportunities to utilize recycled paper and/or products sourced from well-managed forests.
- More Options for Inkjet Devices. There continue to be new paper stocks available for production on inkjet devices. The mills work closely with equipment manufacturers to develop an initial product. Once successful, they can begin to broaden their product offering.
Be sure to check out the digital paper recommendations in The Designer’s Guide to INKJET, recently published by our partner Canon Solutions America. Chapter Six, “Media Is Your Canvas – Choose Wisely,” has excellent advice for paper characteristics to consider in order to achieve the best color reproduction.
While there are still limitations when compared to the range of offset printing grades available, there are more mills including treated products to satisfy inkjet production needs. In addition, inkjet manufacturers are developing new devices, like the Océ ImageStream® 3500, that expand the range of paper stocks that can be used for inkjet.
If you have any questions about how these trends will impact you this year, or have any questions about a certain stock for your campaign, please contact your IWCO Direct account team.
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