Cutting | Trimming | Perforating
| Scoring | Folding | Nesting
| Stitching | Affixing | Labeling
| Sealing | Bursting | Stamping/Metering
The lettershop is responsible for doing many of
the finishing processes necessary to complete your direct mail project. Some
of the processes handled by a lettershop are personalization,
cutting, trimming, perforation, scoring, folding, nesting, stitching, affixing,
labeling, sealing, embossing,
bursting, stamping, metering, and inserting. Some of these processes are briefly
Cutting of a direct mail piece may occur due to
the piece being produced two or more up. At some point through the
finishing process the multiple up piece will have to be cut into individual
pieces. Cutting is generally performed on a guillotine cutter and
has to be accomplished before the direct mail package is assembled.
The cutting process may also be accomplished inline with another finishing
process if the equipment has a slitter at the end of the unit.
Trimming involves cutting off excess
waste from the manufactured piece. Trimming is necessary when the
press run size is different from the finished product size. An item
may have trim allowed for printing due to copy bleeding or the need
for a gripper area. The extra paper allowance then needs to be trimmed
off so that the product will be the correct finished size. Trimming
is generally performed at a guillotine cutter.
Perforations are sometimes added to
the mail piece to allow a section of the piece to be detached. Some
perforation can be added on the press when the piece is printed but
at times, due to the number of perfs or the location, the perforation
has to be added offline as a finishing process. For more details on
perforations, see the perforation feature for the different types
of components, such as Continuous
- Perforations, Single
Sheets - Perforations, Laser
Sheets - Perforations, Envelope
- Perforations, and Mailers
Scoring is accomplished in basically
the same way as perforating. It can be performed on the press or offline.
Perforating actually makes cuts into the paper to allow it to detach,
scoring is applying a crease in the paper but does not cut through
it. A score is generally used to allow a section to fold more easily.
Folding can be accomplished inline if the press
has folding equipment at the end of it. But many times folding is
a finishing process that is provided by a lettershop. Folding may
be required on several pieces of the mail package, such as the letter,
brochure or other inserts. Sometimes they are folded separately and
at times the pieces are first collated together and then folded at
the same time. The pieces may have parallel folds only or they can
have parallel folds with the addition of a perpendicular fold. If
the piece is personalized with the mailing address, the folds may
need to be adjusted to allow the address to show through the window
properly. There are many different types of folds available. For additional
information and styles of folds available, see Finishing
Nesting is when one piece is placed inside part
of another piece. An example of nesting would be when you have two
or more individual pages of a letter that need to be folded and then
but together as one unit. Another example would be when an insert
gets placed in the fold of a letter or brochure. Putting the pages
of the letter together and placing the insert in the letter or brochure
are the nesting process.
Stitching is the stapling of multiple pages together.
A booklet would be saddle stitched, which is stapling the pages on
the fold of the booklet from the back side through to the center.
Pages can also be stitched in the upper right corner or along the
Affixing is the attaching of an item on to a mail
piece. The item can be attached by several different types of adhesive.
It may be attached with an adhesive that covers the entire back of
the item or by small glue spots. How it is attached will depend on
- How well it needs to hold to the piece
- How it will be handled after it is affixed
- How easily does it have to detach
- The capabilities of the lettershop
Some of the items that are affixed to the mail pieces
are labels, membership cards, business cards, credit cards, coins,
pens and product samples.
Labeling is used for several different purposes.
The most common use is to apply the delivery address to the envelope
or mailing package. They are also used as decorative seals or for
advertising a special deal or to make a special announcement. They
are not only used on the outside mailing package but can also be used
on the inside mail pieces. Some of the common types of labels are
Cheshire Labels - Cheshire labels are made
of a non-adhesive type paper. They are manufactured as three, four
or five wide on continuous paper. each labels is approximately 3 5/16"
x 1". Addresses are printed on the continuous paper and then
a Cheshire machine applies glue to the back of the paper, cuts the
label and then affixes it, all in one pass. Cheshire labels provide
a fast and inexpensive way of labeling.
Pressure Sensitive - Pressure sensitive labels
have an adhesive applied to the back of them that requires pressure
be applied to get them to adhere properly. They are supplied on a
release liner that allows the label to be easily removed and affixed
to another surface. Pressure sensitive labels are available on rolls,
sheets and continuous carriers.
Piggyback Labels - Piggyback labels are also
pressure sensitive but actually consist of two labels on top of each
other. The bottom label is a liner only, used to hold the top label
which consists of a liner and pressure sensitive stock. The bottom
liner acts as the carrier of the top label and is discarded when the
top label is attached to the mail piece. When the top label is affixed
to the mail piece, it consists of the liner and the pressure sensitive
stock. The top pressure sensitive stock can then be pulled off the
liner and then reattached in another area. A piggyback label is used
as an action device where the prospect is required to peel off the
label and attach it to the reply device to receive a free gift or
a special discount. It can also contain the reply address to be applied
to the response piece for mailing.
The pressure sensitive and piggyback labels can be applied manually
by a hand held device, but are generally applied by a tabletop or
floor model applicator. The tabletop or floor model will greatly increase
the production of applying the labels. Some labeling equipment can
be included inline with other finishing equipment. This eliminates
the labeling from having to be attached as a separate process.
When the mail pieces are inserted into an envelope for mailing, the
envelope is sealed in the inserting process. If the mail pieces is
a self-mailer, it generally needs to be sealed in some way also. If
it is not sealed properly, it may not qualify for postage discounts.
Some of the different closure types available are tab/wafer seals,
line gluing and spot gluing. For more information on each type of
closure, see Promotional
Mailers - Construction - Closure Types.
Bursting and Stripping
Bursting and stripping is a process in which the
pinfeed holes are slit off from the continuous forms and the individual
forms are separated from each other. The individual forms can then
have any remaining finishing processes completed. Then they can be
assembled with the rest of the pieces of the mail package.
There are several options for applying postage to
your mail package. One way of applying postage is by the use of a
permit box (indicia), printed on the mail piece that will have the
delivery address on it. The permit box option is mostly used for Standard
Mail. Stamping and meter imprints are two other options that are used
for applying postage. Stamping involves the use of an actual stamp
which can be affixed by machine during the finishing process. Metering
is the use of a postage meter to apply the postage to a mail package.
Postage meters can be attached to the inserting equipment and the
mail package can be metered in the inserting process.
Generally what is involved in the inserting process
is the assembling of the components, opening of the envelope flap,
inserting the components, and sealing of the flap. Attachments can
be added to the inserting equipment that would add capabilities, such
as folding, stapling, gluing, metering and stamping.
piece in the mailing package should be coded. The code should be visible
without having to unfold any of the pieces. Give detailed written
instructions on what sequence the pieces should be in and the facing
of each piece and whether or not any of the pieces are nested. A sample
package should be provided to the lettershop.
If you are using versioned inserts
with your mailing, you will want to look for a lettershop that has
the ability to do smart inserting. Smart inserting is the ability
to insert the correct version of a pre-printed insert into the mail
package based on the code that is generated in the addressing process.
Each lettershop or service bureau has its own
capabilities. Certain service bureaus may be limited to the type of services
they can offer. You may have to utilize several different facilities to get
your entire direct mail project completed from start to finish. One facility
may do the design, copy and artwork, one or more facilities may do the printing
of the pieces, another facility may do the list processing, one the personalization
and finishing work, and another the mail processing. Some service bureaus are
able to offer several of the operations together. There are also complete direct
mail services, where all operations, from design to mail processing, can be
handled by one company.
Making a decision on who to use to service all
your needs is not easy. You will want to evaluate the costs, capabilities, delivery
time for all services, and the reputation of the service bureaus. Location of
the facilities will also make a difference in how convenient it is to work with
the service bureau, especially when it comes time to approve creative ideas,
designs, artwork, printed products and final processing.
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