Free App Helps Printers With Unraveling the Mystery of Roll Paper Calculations
When I started in the printing business, figuring out "paper" was easy. We were a small-format sheetfed shop and our largest press was a half-sized, two-color Shinohara. Being the youngest guy in the shop back then, I was always relegated to running the good ol' AB Dick. Job tickets would go into my box: letters, 11x17˝s, and business cards … my daily bread. I’d check the quantity and the plate to see how many up I was running. It was simple — even a high school student could do that math.
Fast forward three decades and for the last six years I have been working with high-speed, roll-fed inkjet printers. And one thing I’ve learned is that roll paper is very different than sheets. It’s not sold at a specific size or number of sheets. It’s sold by the pound or ton; you get different yields based on the width of the roll and weight of the paper. 1,000 pounds of a text-weight letter stock gets you more feet of paper than 1,000 pounds of postcard stock. It’s a simple notion to wrap your head around but the harder, more important question is … by how much?
Calculating for roll paper is not easy.
Another aspect of today’s paper market is that not all paper is measured using the same units. You have text weights, cover weights, book, tag, news, index and bond, not to mention grams per square meter (GSM).
I know there are some who are waiting for the day when we no longer have to deal with that pesky "passing fad’ for measuring paper, GSM, but I am sorry to be the bearer of bad news. It’s here to stay. We either need to understand it or know how to convert it.
Some of the paper mills and merchants have charts or even little widgets on their websites that help you convert GSM to pounds, figure out how many 8.5x11˝ sheets I can get out of 100 pounds of paper and more. Those are good tools but they’re really only useful when we remember which site helps with what calculation and when we’re sitting at our desks.
But it’s TODAY. You’re always on-the-go. Your cell phone is your new desk. You store reminders, send email, set up conference calls, do math, check on job progress, and just about everything else by using your favorite apps on your phone.
When you’re not at your desk (the old school one) and questions like these come across that new desk in your pocket, you need the answers to be at your fingertips for quick decision-making.
Quite simply, you need an app for that.
- How many pounds of 60-lb. offset do I need for 1.2mm - 8.5x17˝ mailers? And what is that going to cost?
- What’s the cover weight equivalent of 249 GSM?
- What’s my yield on a 67 GSM matte for this catalog work?
- How long will it take for my roll-fed inkjet printer to run this odd-size, 14x17˝ job?
- How much can I save if I buy a 16˝-wide roll instead of an 18”-wide one?
Questions like those were coming across my desk, too. With no easy tools and no apps at all to provide answers, I discovered a gaping hole where there should have been answers. That’s when I decided to develop the PAPERInformant app.
The PAPERInformant allows you to quickly calculate important information about roll paper. It can help you convert cost per hundred pounds (CWT) to cost per foot. It can help you determine how many records can fit on a given roll (even if the roll label has been removed). It can convert pounds to GSM, vice versa and many other paper-related calculations.
The PAPERInformant is a free, easy-to-use, quick, unbiased tool to help my industry colleagues and customers to put those answers and calculators at all of our fingertips.
My hope is it will help you as much as it has me.
You can download PAPERInformant from the Apple AppStore (PAPERInformant).
I sincerely hope it helps you in your day-to-day business with roll paper.
I welcome questions, ideas for app add-ons and feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aron Allenson started in the printing business with an after school job as a hand stripper and an AB Dick operator. A graduate of the Rochester Institute of Technology, he has held positions at service bureaus, financial printers, commercial printers, as a product manager of a major variable data publishing application and as a technical sales associate for Heidelberg / NexPress / Kodak. Aron is now a Sales Engineer with Screen Americas dedicated to the Truepress Jet 520 family of printers.