Add Mind Reading to Your Skill Set

“I need a reliable source for raised-print business cards.” Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? But wait…“The raised print is a design and not lettering.” Now we are narrowing it down.

And still, some of the offers of help in this discussion centered around Thermography. Really, did you not read what I read? Others offered to print the cards in China. Hello, we are talking 5,000 business cards here.

While my initial frustration focused on the fact that the print buyer asking for help did not clearly describe what she needed, I ended up being even more frustrated with some of the answers she received.

“Still, this was a much clearer description than many others I get,” said Louise Kralka, vice president of sales and marketing at PDI Inc. Her suggestion in this commotion was clear and precise, and right where I thought the print buyer ought to go.

“PDI can print a raised dimensional varnish inline on our NexPress SX3300,” Kralka suggested. “The NexPress prints CMYK and the raised varnish is laid down inline with the 5th unit.” Exactly.

There are several benefits to the dimensional clear varnish:

  1. NexPress (as well as HP Indigo) are offering this option with a separate unit inline.
  2. You can determine the height of the raised varnish…Granted, it will take several clicks (“hits” for those among you who do not speak digital press), but you have the option to stay flat or go really high.
  3. You can lay the clear varnish over type, thus mimicking the thermography effect, or you can use it to create intricate patterns.
  4. Thermography needs a plate, while the digital process can even utilize variable data to personalize the raised ink. “You can spell the person’s name as a pattern in the background if you wish,” mused Kralka.

While these options are compelling, one thing has become crystal clear: 95 percent of your clients are not precise in what they want; they probably do not know the terminology. Nor are they aware of what is on offer, what the newest technologies are, and why one will work better for them than another.

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

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