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Thermography & Embossing - In-house vs. Outsource

August 1998
According to the Quick Printing Industry Profile of 1997, 80.8 percent of quick printers broker out thermography work. Why?

"Quick printers would need an awful lot of thermography on their plate to bring it in-house," answers Tim Rice, vice president of sales and marketing at Sunraise, a Lexington, MI-based manufacturer of thermography equipment. "For the most part, quick printers would be best off to send it to their local wholesaler."

Does that mean quick printers shouldn't even consider investing in thermography equipment? Not exactly. Rice simply suggests that you consider the degree of demand before adding thermography capabilities.

Rick Short agrees. Short makes his living as director of national printer accounts at Riso, a Danvers, MA, company that sells the Digital Duplicator GR3770, a machine that lends itself to thermography.

"If the volume is such that [quick printers] feel they can justify the addition of a thermography unit," he says, "it would warrant putting one in."

Sometimes one account can provide all the justification you need to add a thermography machine. Such was the case at Docuprint Imaging in Englewood, CO.

This single account sends Docuprint 150 to 250 business cards per month, each with a run length ranging from 500 to 1,000. Rather than spread this work among trade thermographers, Docuprint invested in a machine to handle the business cards personally.

While Ted Van Pelt, president of Nokomis, FL-based Therm-O-Type, encourages quick printers to invest in thermography equipment, he doesn't discourage them from using trade thermographers. According to Van Pelt, quick printers are better off handling PMS and other specialty thermography jobs themselves, leaving typical work to trade sources.

Van Pelt notes that wholesalers prefer to keep the workflow constant, moving at top speed. "It's bang, bang, bang," he says.

In addition to thermography equipment, Therm-O-Type markets foil-stamping equipment. "The thing with foil stamping and embossing, anybody can put in a press and make a small fortune," Van Pelt says.

Still, before you add any embossing equipment (or thermography equipment, for that matter), consider your limitations. Certain trade printers have a tight lock in specific niches. Stephen Fossler Co., a Crystal Lake, IL, company specializing in embossed foil seals, is a good example.

"We're using old technology," says Bob Sandidge, corporate marketing manager. "You need the really heavy presses to smush the foils. It's a process that's a little bit different than the normal printing process.

"We have 20 presses running," he adds. "If you had one press running, I don't know how you could make it work."


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