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Why Print is Thriving in an Increasingly Digital World

Why are consumers still attracted to print, and how has this time-tested medium evolved in today’s digital consumer landscape?

The fact is, printed communications continue to have widespread appeal, even as the digital revolution takes hold.  Recent research reported in Science Daily shows that newspaper readers overwhelmingly prefer paper – 89 percent of the total amount of time readers devote to newspapers goes to the print edition, versus four percent for online and seven percent for mobile formats.

The same can be said for book readers. Pew Research Center recently found that 65 percent of Americans had read a print book during the previous year – more than double those who have read an e-book (28 percent), and more than four times those who have listened to an audio book (14 percent).

Even though CNN reports the average American adult spends more than 10 hours a day consuming digital media, research supports the fact that that people are naturally drawn to print. Below are four reasons why:

Digital Fatigue

According to Daniel Dejan, print and creative manager for Sappi North America, the volume of digital communications consumers encounter daily is astonishing.

“I often refer to it as a tsunami,” he said. “And there are no boundaries with digital communications. Anyone with a computer and access to Wi-Fi can upload. So, we have this plethora of information, data, communications, video, music, opinion and rumor.”

In addition, printed communications undergo a review process before they reach consumers, giving them credibility. “If I write something that is going to be printed, there’s a copy editor – or it has to be approved by legal,” said Dejan.

Jay Sheffield, account executive for Continental Colorcraft, attributes some of print’s staying power to new eco-friendly solutions that consumers – especially younger generations – value.

“People are getting more interested in what a brand stands for and how it impacts the environment,” he said. “So, we get more requests to print on recycled media, and we only use soy-based inks. Most of the papers now are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified.”

Versatility and Reliability

Dr. Gillian Hayes, a Kleist professor in informatics at the University of California, Irvine, emphasizes that it is the flexibility of print that makes it so valuable to consumers.

“You can print something and set it on a table, and that table can be inside in the dark or outside on a boat, and it will work,” she said. “And you can take out any pen or pencil and make notations, and that will also work. Digitally, we are just not there, yet.”

According to Marcie Obstfeld, president of Power Promotions, print remains in demand today because there are so many applications for it.

“There is a way to imprint virtually everything,” she said. “It may be some sort of attachment to a product, but now our answer to clients is almost always ‘yes.’ This is made possible by the different techniques available now, which can create everything from edible imprints to tiny prints on the side of your eyeglasses.”

Print also offers a measure of security that digital lacks. “Pilots are moving to iPads and apps for their maps and avionics, but they still use printed logbooks and other documents because it is safer to have that paper as a backup in the air,” said Hayes.

Investing in print delivers big pay-offs for brands.  Direct mail and brand packaging can provide a significant return on investment. Consider the perceived value of print for brand packaging with such brands as Apple and Nike, for instance.

Sensory Appeal

While consumers are drawn to the depth and relevance of print, Dejan explains that our connection with the medium goes well beyond form and function.

“Print stimulates our senses,” he said. “A perfect example of this is how we have recorded the scent of printing. If you close your eyes, you can recreate the smell of a library, or a bookstore, or textbooks when you crack them open. It is an important aspect of our relationship with print, as is the sound of paper – how newsprint sounds when you are turning the pages, versus a magazine. These all contribute to a strong reader experience that is not recreated in a digital environment.”

In addition, a wide range of specialty finishes is mind-boggling. According to Dejan. “There is a lot of research being done now involving retinal scanning on how the eye is attracted to the special effects of printing. Pearlized inks, metallic inks and foil stamping are not duplicated readily digitally, and they capture the consumer’s attention.”

What truly separates print from digital is the sense of touch. “We have learned how to produce beautiful coatings with a soft touch, as well as sandpaper – everything from very, very light imprinting to heavy effects,” said Dejan.

Research also shows the more unique the print is, the more likely it is to find its way into digital channels. “Brands are trying to draw customers in to be loyal through social media; everyone is talking about it,” said Obstfeld. “One way you get more bang for your buck is to get an image of your printed product on Pinterest. If it is an interesting and unusual image, it will get retweeted, it will go viral, and have wider appeal.”

Striking a Balance

It appears that print is here to stay, much like the invention of the lightbulb and the wheel. However, don’t overlook the impact digital experiences are having on consumers today.

“You see this best in kids,” said Hayes. “They are born into a world of touchscreens, and that is how they see the world. They walk up to a big screen TV and touch it. They try to swipe paper books. They struggle to see the differences.”

Digital experiences also impact older generations, she adds. “We expect higher fidelity graphics in print today and interactive experiences. All these things work within an ecosystem, though; they work together. We tell our students to think about the whole ecosystem when they are designing because there is going to be a role for all platforms.”

Dejan notes, “If it’s a question of looking for data or information, then digital communications play a very important role. But if I want you to have a deep understanding of, appreciation for, and relationship with my company, brand, product or service, I want you to read ink on paper because you will remember what you have read, and you will value it.”

Click here to read the article in its entirety by Laurie Weller.


RGB vs. CMYK vs. PMS

It’s time to send your design to print, but you’ve got one big question: RGB, CMYK, or PMS? Choosing the right color profile can make all of the difference in the world when it comes to how your design will appear in print. Pick the wrong one, and your colors may not look the way you want. Here’s a simplified breakdown of each of these three color profiles and when you should use each in your marketing designs.


RGB stands for “red, green, blue” and is often used in digital design to accurately represent colors on computer screens. To create a color pallet, this profile blends red, green, and blue light waves to give you the exact shade you’re looking for. RGB is best for projects like:

  • Infographics
  • Websites
  • E-Newsletters
  • Online Catalogs

A viewer’s monitor settings can change the way RGB colors are displayed on the screen, so your digital designs might vary slightly on different computer screens.


Similar to RGB, the CMYK color profile blends multiple colors together to achieve the right look. The colors used in CMYK are cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black), and each color is applied in layers during the printing process to match your chosen hue exactly. You would use a CMYK profile for:

  • Most everyday print materials

This profile is ideal for printed materials, but you should expect very slight variation in your colors throughout the printing process. This is a result of differences in paper, ink levels, temperature, and the process of mixing inks itself. While this variation is barely noticeable, it should be a factor when considering which color profile to use for branded materials.


PMS, or Pantone Matching System, is the most accurate color profile for printed materials. RGB and CMYK colors are blended in real-time during the printing process, which can create inconsistencies in your color. PMS colors are pre-mixed before printing and each color is applied one by one to maintain consistency throughout the print job.

Given its unique accuracy, the PMS color profile is most often used for:

  • Corporate Branded Print Materials

You also have the option of using PMS and CMYK together to achieve a full color palette for full-color photographs and other multimedia printing projects.

Each of these color profiles has its strengths and weaknesses, and it’s important to choose one that meets your specific printing needs. Discuss the possibilities with your printer to accurately display the colors of your design and capture the essence of your branding in the printing process.

Benefits of UV Coating

Printed marketing materials are often your business’s first contact with new customers, and it’s important that they make a great first impression. UV coating is one way you can make your postcards, business cards, catalogs, and other products stand out and draw attention to your brand.

But what is ultraviolet (UV) coating? This finishing technique involves the application of a wet compound to paper that is cured and dried with ultraviolet light. This process results in a glossy sheen that is as attractive as it is durable.


What are the benefits of UV coating?

UV coating creates a stunning, dramatic visual appeal with a wide variety of mediums, whether you’re sending out postcards or designing presentation documents. But in addition to its aesthetic value, this coating process has several additional benefits.

  • High-Shine: UV coating adds a truly unique shine to your printed materials, deeply enhancing colors and creating a slick visual effect. This coating is great for photographs and high-color documents like catalogs and folders.
  • Customizable: Your printer can adjust the reflectivity and thickness of your UV coating depending on your unique needs. You may opt for a glossy coating or an understated matte for maximum effect.
  • Fast Drying: Production time can significantly slow down your marketing campaign, but using ultraviolet light, these materials dry instantly to save you time.
  • Durable: When you’re mailing or distributing your materials, they can often get scuffed or scratched in transition. UV coating keeps your materials looking fresh off of the press for much longer, allowing you to design mailing pieces, business cards, and brochures with a durable, abrasion-resistant design.
  • Environmentally-Friendly: Many coatings use harmful solvents, but the compound used in UV coatings are free of solvents and don’t emit volatile organic compounds during the curing process.
  • Affordable: The process of applying UV coating is very affordable, particularly when you consider the return on your investment. High-quality printed materials can inspire confidence in your brand and impress your customers and clients.

When is UV coating not a good option?

There are some instances in which UV coating is not your best option for your printed materials. These occasions include:

  • When you’re using lightweight paper (under 100#): UV coating may crack or curl if used on lightweight paper. Heavier stock is recommended for this coating process, such as paper stock used for business cards, booklets, flyers, and catalog covers.
  • If the material needs to be written on: Writing with ink on coated paper can take a long time to dry and result in unflattering smudges, so it’s best to opt for uncoated paper if it needs to be written on. For materials like business cards that may be used for visual and functional purposes, you can coat one side and leave the other uncoated for writing.
  • If you’re using metallic inks or foil stamping: Unless your metallic ink is sealed, its naturally flaky surface can cause the UV coating to peel and flake. Additionally, the UV coating on your materials may not allow for a foil stamp, so discuss this possibility with your printer before deciding on coating or stamping.

UV coating is a great option for marketers, advertisers, and small business owners alike. By using this coating on your printed materials, you can create eye-catching materials that promote your brand and attract customers—without breaking your print budget.