Selecting paperboard for graphical applications
- Greetings cards
- Point of sale cards
- Business cards
Messages in time and space
The purposes for which cards are used are many and varied, fulfilling all imaginable needs, expectations and intentions. Cards often convey holiday messages from travelling friends, birthday congratulations, greetings for Christmas or just considerate good-wishes. Cards may contain photographs as well as a variety of graphical decorations and printed texts; the design and the paperboard constitute the product.
Every purchased card is selected with the utmost care to ensure that it is suitable for the addressee - from simple messages to those which will preserve life time events from one generation to the next. Cards have conveyed messages between ordinary people since the 19th century - and will undoubtedly continue to do so in the future. Good graphical and protective paper board properties will continue to be necessary for the preservation of this form of communication.
Choice of paperboard
Postcards and greetings cards are usually purchased over the counter or from self-service displays. Cards for business purposes are bought commercially from advertising agencies and printing-offices. The visual impact at the point of sale is crucial. Use is made of a variety of decorative means, such as printed illustrations and photographs, embossing, lamination or hot foil stamping. Skilful printing and converting techniques enhance product appeal and contribute to the message. Complex creative shapes in three dimensions, such as pop-ups or cutouts, or the use of special surface textures may also highlight the uniqueness of the product.
Important promotional characteristics of paperboard for cards are whiteness, smoothness and surface finish, often required on both sides. Very high print quality is required, with good contrast between the surface and the print, to achieve excellent presentation of photographs and sharp half-tone illustrations or bold, strong colours in large solid areas. Embossing, lamination and hot foil stamping require surface strength. The creative and functional shape of cards call for a strong and tough multiply paperboard. For written messages on greetings cards and postcards, good ink acceptance of the reverse side is necessary. Paperboard used for postcards needs to have good flatness and dimensional stability to withstand the varying relative humidities often experienced at the point of sale.
The protective characteristics of paperboard for cards should initially last up to the point of sale or issue. Even though this is not a primary concern, a card might be subject to rough handling during postal service. Depending on the circumstances, the protection characteristics may thereafter be needed for it to last for generations. The protection required applies to both the card itself and the motif - not to mention the written message.
To protect the card from physical damage throughout all stages to the addressee and thereafter, a strong, tough, flat and stable paperboard is required. Folded cards require durable creases. Protection of the motif and the written text from fading or yellowing is vital. The use of virgin fibres, together with selected coating ingredients, ensure good light stability. A smooth surface provides for ease of handling and good rub and abrasion resistance, thereby preserving the graphical presentation and the writing.
Printing and conversion
To obtain efficiency in printing and conversion a flat, stable and dust free paperboard is required. Good absorption and drying properties, as well as good cutting, creasing and gluing properties are important. Thus high quality is ensured, whilst process stoppages and material waste are minimised. For cards with exclusive and advanced designs, multi- step processing may be needed, requiring good dimensional stability and exact sheet squareness.