99% of designers don't know these printing problems

May 2, 2023

From the basic printing process to the creative structure and production of luxury packaging, they shared super "dry goods" printing suggestions and skills, let's read it together!

hen a design client comes back to you complaining that their printer says that the files you gave them are unusable, it’s pretty embarrassing. As the professional, it’s supposed to be your job to take care of the technical side of things, not the client’s. To help you avoid these types of situations, we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common print file mistakes and how to fix them. For the purposes of this post we are going to open up PDF files (a common file used for printing) in Adobe Illustrator to demonstrate common print file mistakes.

Can't Ignore the Creativity of Printing Houses

Dialogue with printing technology engineers with 20 years of experience

Do you think that after the designer conveys the printing requirements, the design file is handed over to the printing factory? Of course not, when the work is in the hands of the printing craftsman, the craftsman will have a process of performing tasks, such as: checking documents, layering and grading different processes, and considering the size and characteristics of the paper. There will always be errors between the imagined effect and the reality. If you fully communicate every detail with the craftsman before printing, the error will be reduced.

professional designers
Do not know at all
These printing problems

You must think more and study more, and don’t give up easily just because you haven’t done it before, just saying “I can’t do it” or “I can’t do it”

designer animator GIF

Q: As a process technology director, what is the biggest challenge you face in this job?

A: I think the challenges facing the luxury packaging and printing industry are actually very unfair. First of all, luxury brands pursue the ultimate craftsmanship. Even product packaging must be made entirely by hand and made of paper materials. Screws, glue, magnets, etc. cannot be used as auxiliary materials, and non-environmental materials such as plastics cannot be added. The packaging is all the same. Second, the structure has to start almost from scratch. Customers generally only give a floor plan and say a very vague concept, such as "I only want it to turn", "I want an unprecedented package", and rarely mention the specific structure. What's more, big brands don't like to repeat their ideas, they always have to innovate and subvert.

The most important thing is that in addition to thinking about the specific structure, you also need to think about how to complete the production according to time and quality, which involves product development and engineering design. The time given by customers is relatively short, usually only two months. In addition, the competitive pressure in the industry is still very high. Brands will send projects to different manufacturers and choose the best ones for cooperation.
Q: Every packaging design requires close cooperation between the designer and the printing house. What problems do you often encounter in cooperation?

A: Designers have very good ideas, and we are familiar with how to implement ideas. Every time we can successfully cooperate to produce wonderful works, we will be very happy. However, apart from structural design and production process issues, we seldom interfere with designers' own designs, but try our best to meet their demands and realize their ideas. Designers are sometimes unconstrained, and don't know much about the development and production of actual products. They don't know that some design concepts cannot be realized, and some concepts require a lot of manpower and material resources to realize. Hennessy once collaborated with the well-known artist Liu Wei to design a wine box. The biggest problem at that time was that the back of the box could not be seamlessly closed after opening. In fact, this is limited by the structure itself. We have to think of many ways to solve this problem, and we have created many samples.
Grrrl Zine Fair feminism print publishing doityourself GIF
print leopard GIF

Rather than saying that printing errors will bring unexpected surprises, it is better to say that problems that are avoided as much as possible in printing may bring surprises.

Q: As the manager of the technical engineering department, please share the role of the department in the printing process and the challenges you face.

A: As the name suggests, the Technical Engineering Department considers how to ensure product quality by controlling process standard parameters from a technical point of view. The challenge we face is that we have relatively high requirements for technical engineers. In addition to being familiar with the product structure and processing characteristics of each process, we also need to understand the suitability of materials, machining dimensions, cost, and efficiency. Because there are many links in the operation, which are interlocking, any link that is not smooth will affect the product quality or increase the cost. It is worth mentioning that the higher the quality, the better, because high quality will inevitably lead to an increase in cost and an increase in the rate of defective products, so it is necessary to comprehensively measure the benefits.

Q: In the combination of printing process and materials, what problems are prone to occur for designers? How can bad prints be avoided, especially when choosing new materials or unconventional process combinations?

A: First of all, designers tend to only see the surface properties of materials, such as paper texture, pattern and color, without further understanding of paper strength, stiffness and other characteristics. We need to know that the leather cover of hardcover books must have sufficient strength, otherwise the grooves will be easily broken. The original color paper does not look obvious, but the dyed paper is easy to be found and affects the appearance; Consider the stiffness, which is related to the comfort of reading. If it is too thick, it will be hard, if it is too thin, it will be soft, and double-sided printing on thin paper will show through. Secondly, they sometimes don't think about whether the material is suitable for printing. For example, iron-on paper is only suitable for ironing and pressing. If it is used for printing, it is not strong enough and the color is easy to peel off. Thirdly, it is easy to ignore many details when choosing fabrics and leather materials, such as whether there will be burrs on the edges after hemming, whether there will be traces, whether the thickness of hemming is acceptable, especially the thickness of leather is generally about 0.5mm . In addition, the leather material is also relatively soft and has no stiffness. Whether the designer can accept this feeling. Finally, it is easier for them to ignore the color difference between the screen image and the printed object. The selected material may not be able to produce the desired effect. For example, the red picture seen on the screen will have a color cast when printed on blue paper. We must Be good at estimating.

As for how to avoid bad printing, in addition to paying attention to the problems mentioned above, if necessary, find colleagues with relevant experience to communicate more, and refer to relevant samples. If it is not possible, a sample should be made for testing. In the face of unfamiliar or new materials and processes, no one can judge the feasibility or printing effect at a glance. It is very important to communicate experience, summarize, share, and comprehend with peers.

4 printing errors that became creative trends | Pixartprinting
Multi Sized booklets
House of Print inc Grosvenor – Print & Design Blackpool

Error energy drinks – Packaging Of The World
Sherri Shepherd Lol GIF by NBC

Printed story?
No, it was an accident!

Ahead is the road section with frequent printing accidents
Please slow down

It is one thing to know printing theory, but quite another to be familiar with printing operations. Even if you can memorize printing knowledge back and forth, there is no guarantee that you will not "overturn" in the interlocking printing process, not to mention the innovation of printing materials and processes, and the constant inspiration hitting the ceiling of creativity. You can't help but want to carry out printing experiments hand. Therefore, in the design of printed works, the sharing of printing experience is very important, especially the warning signs erected by the predecessors on the roads where printing accidents occur frequently and the adventure strategies of extreme scenery.

We solicited their printing stories and accidents from designers and printing experts around the world, from how printing helped them realize their design creativity, to the "pitfalls" they stepped on in printing practice and the valuable experience they summed up, to the future A longing to print.

Mistakes lead to new ideas

Yes, sometimes we make mistakes, but those mistakes spark new ideas, the key is how we see beauty in imperfect print. At the same time, it is very important to consider the entire printing process when conceiving a printing scheme. Before mass production, we need to confirm the printing files, do printing test and make samples.

The Key to Guaranteed Perfect Print Outputs

Every printing method is unique. Like materials, colours, typography and graphics, printing can also give a project a unique look and feel. For example, the project "Buzz Soundart Galerie" uses screen printing, and its saturated colors are perfect for the bold image of the Soundart Gallery. The brutish-looking covers of my series on Antonin Artaud were handmade by me with printing cylinders, highlighting the beauty of imperfection that a machine cannot achieve. I have also experimented with marbled paper as a graphic element in other books.

Thumbnail for Did You Hear About Buzz, The Avant-Garde Sound Exhibition In Berlin?

For designers, the most anxious time is the moment when everything is printed, followed by the submission of final documents before printing. Printing accidents happen all the time, but sometimes funny things happen. Once, because of a misunderstanding between me and the printing house, the cover ended up using another process. It wasn't what I wanted until I received the finished product, but it worked surprisingly well! Sometimes mistakes and the unexpected lead you to discover new printing methods and process combinations.