From concept to completion, there are many complex and technical print project processes at play behind the scenes at Badger. You may never notice the process, but it’s critical to ensuring timely, accurate, and cost-effective results.
Keep the following steps in mind when planning your next print project to help you stay on schedule and budget. Proper planning is key to avoiding unexpected surprises.
Step 1. Concept and Quoting
Discussing concept and pricing before you begin to design your print piece can help you avoid production issues that impact timing and cost later in the process. Your finished piece will be affected by such as how a project will finish and what type of paper to use may affect the design. Upfront planning with your Badger representative will assure you reach your goals for the project.
Step 2. Design
Once the concept and quoting process is complete, we begin the design process. If you choose to design your piece — whether it’s an in-house graphic designer or your favorite freelancer — Badger can supply you with the file specifications that work best with the printing process. We also have a graphic designer on staff to help with your design needs.
Common design applications are Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, and InDesign. Single page high-resolution PDF files allow us to easily lay out the project as required for our equipment. It’s important that we have your approved fonts, photos (minimum resolution of 300 dpi), and files (saved CMYK and at the correct final size for printing) so that your design follows your brand guidelines and your printed piece is high quality. If design elements carry off the edge of the sheet, bleeds of .125 inch should be included. Design files that are set up properly will save time for alterations and cost for additional rounds of proofing.Read “Designing for Print Marketing: What Is Bleed?”
Step 3. Prepress and Proof Approval
Now that the design is complete, the print files go to the printer. Print files are often quite large, so there are several ways they can be sent to Badger. If they are too large to email, then files can be uploaded to our FTP site or shared through applications such as Dropbox and Google Drive.
Badger offers the Kodak InSite Prepress Portal System, which allows you to upload high-resolution PDF proofs and instantly review and approve them online. InSite is a great tool that cuts out the need for hard-copy proofs and cuts down the time associated with the proofing process. It also allows multiple users to collaborate on changes using annotations throughout the approval process.
Some projects still require hard-copy proofs. High-resolution Epson proofs match the quality and color reproduction capabilities of the offset printing press. We also offer a low-cost/low-resolution Plotter proof used to check content and layout. The Plotter can be a more cost-effective option for multi-page projects. If the project prints on one of our digital presses, we simply do a proof on the same machine that will do the actual production run. Our customers are welcome to visit and do a “press check” on large projects, allowing you to see the first sheets come off the press.
Step 4. Printing
Once proofs are approved, we go to press. We inventory many different thicknesses and finishes of paper at Badger, but sometimes we need to order specialty stocks that may require a longer lead time. Most of the time, we discuss scheduling during the quoting process which allows us to plan around a press schedule that varies from day to day. Depending on the scope of a project, a turn time can vary from three days for a simple project to three weeks for a project with multiple components.Read “How to Choose the Right Paper for Your Print Design”
Step 5. Bindery and Finishing
Bindery and finishing are where the project all comes together. Folding, collating, stitching, trimming, drilling, die-cutting, shrink wrapping, plastic coil binding, round cornering, and padding are just a few of the many bindery options. When necessary, we also outsource to a few trusted partners for specialty operations that may affect the delivery schedule.
Step 6. Mailing and Delivery
The mailing process can be intimidating. Badger makes it easy by keeping the mailing process in-house. We specialize in data analysis, purchasing lists based on target audience, NCOA and CASS certification of mail lists, and strategizing for postage savings. Also, we can do black or full-color variable data printing, tabbing, soft-spot gluing, stamp affixing, and metering. For more complex mailings, we offer letter inserting with the capability to verify matching on three pieces. Other money saving options include commingling, drop shipping, and Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM).
Our Fulfillment Services include pick and pack, kit assembly, and hand assembly. Our trucks can be scheduled to make local deliveries, and our Shipping Department works hard to keep freight costs down and deliver on time.
Throughout the print project process, a dedicated Project Manager manages steps to ensure a successful project. They are the hub of communications between departments — from Marketing to Prepress to Production — and with you, the customer. We understand that for our company to be successful, we need to help our clients be successful. If you have questions or concerns at any point in the print project process, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Ready to get started on your next print, direct mail, or marketing project? Contact us today!