Why are Stonehenge Designs cards so beautiful? Spoiler: We have an incredible printer.
For the past six years, we’ve worked with Don Youngman, printing and packaging specialist at Precision Graphics of Oregon. (Before that, we worked with him at another company, too.)
Don is our liaison and advocate. He makes sure that our cards, out of the many thousands of printed materials they produce every year, are spot-on every single time. His work is timely. He gives us a fair price. And the quality of the work they do is far above any other printer we’ve worked with. We promise this isn’t an ad for Precision. We just adore working with this company.
In the post on our design process, we walked you through each step we take when we’re designing cards in the studio. Once Sarah gets her (expertly formatted) art files to Don, he starts the process over at the press.
We usually print 15,000 cards at a time: 1,500 cards each of 10 designs. Ten of our card designs fit on a single printing sheet which allows for just one set of print plates—a big savings for us and our customers. Details like this help us keep our prices reasonable.
Other than Don’s kindness and expertise, a big reason we work with Precision is that they have the best printing presses anywhere. They own two Heidelberg presses which are, in the world of printing presses, the undisputed leader. A Heidelberg can print up to six colors at a time and up to 18,000 sheets per hour. They’re less finicky to work with and are capable of recreating rich, precise color, which is obviously of supreme importance to us.
Once Don receives our files, the press operators run proofs, a process that involves a set of four print plates and complicated computer programs that interface with the press.
The proofs are our chance to see a test run of what our cards are going to look like. Once we have them in hand, we give Don our feedback and make requests for color adjustments, if there are any. Then they deliver a second proof. Because we’ve been working together for so long, we usually only have to give one round of feedback before it’s ready to go to press.
Once we have a press date, we go to the printing facility for a press check to watch the first sheets come through. This allows us to make slight change requests on the spot. Can you believe they can do that?
If the color seems a little off or something needs to be darker or lighter, the press operator adjusts it with an online computer. Then they run a few more for us to see. Once it’s exactly right, they lock in the ink colors and run the whole batch.
Don tells us it’s somewhat unusual for clients to do regular press checks.
He said the other day that “Stonehenge goes way out of their way, over and above, to make sure the color is just what they want.”
Once the cards are printed, they run them through a die-cutting machine, which scores and perforates the cards. Then the cards go through a cutter, a machine that can cut up to 400 sheets of cardstock at a time. Then it’s on to the folding machine.
To get it right, this whole process requires a meticulous eye and years of expertise. Don is proud of the work the company does for Stonehenge. As a printer, he notices that “about 90% of the cards” he sees on retail racks in stores aren’t printed—or even cut—square.
Not so with ours. He would never let that happen. “These are,” he says, “very high-quality cards.”
Every time Precision delivers an order, we thank our lucky stars for Don and the team. They’re integral to the success and integrity of our work.