Today, business cards can be produced on pretty much any material. Some of them are quite durable. Our customers frequently ask us which of our materials are the thickest or most durable. Since this question comes up so often, we decided to make a brief video that demonstrates the durability of our more popular materials. We focused on the thicknesses that are most commonly requested.
Our method for testing the durability of these materials was to line up 15 business cards (one in front of the other), and shoot them with a pellet gun. This strategy was surprisingly effective in displaying the subtle differences in the durability of these business cards. We thought about the problem for a while and came to the conclusion that there isn’t a more effect way to illustrate this, at least with the resources that we have. Hey, we have no complaints about that either! These tests were definitely fun to carry out.
We frequently have visitors in our NYC print shop asking for some sort of 3-dimensional effect on their business cards. They usually want the ink to rise upward off of the surface of the business card. Being that they aren’t print professionals, they tend to incorrectly refer to this effect as embossing. Granted, embossing by definition would fit the description, it’s rarely what the consumers really want. This blog post is dedicated to describing the differences between the most common types of 3-dimensional effects.
For starters, the effect that people are seeking is “Raised Lettering”. This can be described as lettering (or any print on your design) that projects upward off of the surface of the paper. When the business cards are held, you can actually feel the raised letters or other print when you rub your fingers over the surface. This effect is very impactful, and it makes business cards really stand out. Its also something that isn’t offered by all print shops here in NYC, or anywhere else in the country for that matter. Maybe as little as a third of commercial printers care to offer this service. So in a nutshell, not everyone can do it.
There are 3 ways to make your printed elements raise upward off of the paper: Embossing, Engraving, and Thermography. Each of these methods offer similar 3-dimensional effects, but they are produced in totally different ways. As a result of their different production methods, their costs rage quite dramatically. They also have unique features that make them more appropriate for certain situations.
Business cards have been around for a long time. We’ve covered this topic in detail on our past blog posts. In a nutshell, they’ve been widely used for around 5 centuries. During this period of time, many styles have come and gone. In our small NYC print shop, our customers frequently ask us for consultation on how to style their business cards. Many customers like certain finishes, but they aren’t confident enough to actually move forward with them. They end up getting something more conservative and safe, despite the fact that they prefer another finish. Knowing which types of business cards are going out of style would really be helpful in these situations. Nobody positively knows what will last, but we can surely offer our opinion.
When we talk about styles, we’re referring to multiple things. These things can be the look, effects, finish, or even material. Style can be summarized as the overall appearance of a business card, though there isn’t really a textbook definition. An example of a business card style could be raised ink business cards. Since raised ink is typically printed on uncoated papers, with less than 4 colors, a certain type of card immediately comes to mind when you mention the name. Another example would be silk laminated business cards. Since these business cards all share a plastic laminate coating and flat printing, its easy to envision how most of them look. Hopefully these two examples help shed light on how we define style in the context of business cards.
As an established supplier of business cards in NYC, we are lucky to come across many exotic business card designs and finishes. In many cases, we hear about new products and finishes before other people do. This is strictly because of our location in NYC as opposed to other parts of the country. Sometimes we incorrectly make the assumption that our customers are aware of certain products that might not be mainstream yet. This is definitely the case with clear plastic business cards. Lately, I’ve found myself being asked if we can do them quite often. I think this amount of attention warrants a dedicated blog post.
A clear plastic business card is defined as a plastic business card that is completely transparent. These clear business cards are just like a window, meaning you can see right through them with minimal distortion. Its important to note that there are other plastic materials that are similar, but not the same. The best example would be translucent plastic business cards. Those business cards are transparent as well, just not to the same degree. Translucent business cards allow some light to pass through, but objects are not clearly visible when looking through the cards.
Can I put a picture on my business card, and should I do it? This is a question that I encounter quite often at our print shop in NYC. Many people seem to want photographs printed on their business cards or other printed items. Although it isn’t difficult to do, there are two really important issues that need to be addresses every time. These issues have to do with technical limitations and design considerations. Since I find myself spending a decent amount of time discussing this topic, I figured it makes sense to blog about it.
First off, lets clarify exactly what we mean by printing a picture on a business card. When we refer to printing a picture on a business card, we mean a photograph. A common example would be a headshot for an actor. Many people in certain industries tend to request having pictures of themselves on their business cards. This is especially true in the entertainment industry. Another example would be putting a photo of a given product on a card. Many companies do this as well. They will typically include a color photo of a popular piece of merchandise and add it to their business cards. One last example would be photography. Many photographers try to include an example of their work on their business cards. These three examples are just some of the instances where we see pictures on business cards.
Over the last few decades, technology has advanced at an unprecedented rate. This level of advancement is a wonderful thing. It’s been disruptive to many industries, but I still think its an incredibly good thing. You might be surprised to hear that from me (as a printer in NYC who has experienced a huge level of disruption) given my industry, but I absolutely love change when its for the better. In this case, for the everyday consumer its definitely been for the better (i.e. going paperless).
Furthermore, you would think in this day and age that using small pieces of paper with your contact information on them for networking purposes would be slightly outdated. After all, almost everything in our lives has gone digital to some extent, particularly the things that used to be printed on paper. So why are business cards still so widely used?
There are many explanations for why business cards remain relevant today. Some reasons might be more obvious to most people, while there are others that might be very difficult to notice. We will start with the obvious ones and move on to the other, more substantial ones after.
When people order business cards from our NYC print shop, there are some requests that almost everyone seems to want. Some of these common requests include printing on a nice material and adding some sort of effect such as spot gloss or raised ink. Of all the requests that we encounter, having a thick and sturdy business card is by far the most popular.
To some degree, I am not surprised that people would want thicker, more substantial business cards. However, I didn’t expect to see just how thick people wanted them. This unexpected demand has caused us to alter our production strategy and cater to a different set of priorities. Printing on heavyweight stock is not easy, and I’m not kidding when I say that. That being said, its worth the effort. We are one of only a handful of business card suppliers who can do things like that.
First of all, lets look at what the average business card thickness is. Most business cards are printed on #100-110lb stock, which is equivelent to 12pt cover for those who use the point system. Although you will never be criticized for using the standard weight, those business cards are not exactly memorable (unless they have a great design). We’ve found that it doesn’t make much sense for us to offer the standard weight because our customers never order them after seeing heavier business cards. We start at #130lb or 16pt cover, and go up from there.
There are many finishes that you can opt for on your business cards and I’ve covered some of the possible options in an earlier blog post. This topic is actually brought up quite often when people are shopping for business cards in NYC, and I presume its probably the case for most parts of the country. Though this may surprise some people, it doesn’t surprise me at all. The texture of a business card is an excellent way to differentiate your card from many others, not to mention the appeal that some textured stocks offer.
When people approach us about printing textured business cards, its usually over the phone. This presents a very fundamental problem in that a texture needs to be seen and felt in person in order to be fully aware of its characteristics. We are a small print shop in NYC specializing in business cards, and we don’t have other locations outside of New York City. We do however receive regular inquiries from outside of NYC. So we are tasked with the challenge of trying to educate our potential customers about the subtle characteristics of the numerous textures that we can print on. Needless to say, its really tough. So I figured I’d blog about it. Maybe this writing can help answer a few questions that people might have.