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How Greetings Cards Are Manufactured

Mar 22, 2008
Traditional greeting cards are made from paper or cardboard onto which photographs, pictures, drawings are added. Often a greeting is written on the outside of the card congratulating the recipient on the event that they are celebrating. It is not uncommon to find a verse, rhyme or greeting also printed inside the card.

Greeting cards can be designed in many various ways and printed with a many different images. They are designed to cater for almost any occasion and in order to meet this requirement they have messages inside the cards to appeal to diverse audiences.

Some celebrate birthdays, other engagements or marriage, Easter, Christmas or any other event that is celebrated. They are also used in times of sorrow to express your personal feelings when some body has died.

Many greetings cards are now made out of recycled paper and the greeting card industry sells cards in retail stores in vast volumes. Over 1,500 greeting card manufacturers sell an estimated seven billion cards each year. Each household receives the staggering figure of an average of 70 cards annually.

Greeting cards are made of paper wood pulp or part "rag" (textile waste) and a growing trend is to use recycled paper. Many manufactures put a glossy aqueous coating consisting of water and a water-based acrylic coating on to the cards after printing when a photograph is shown on the card. Many different types of inks are used.

A recent trend has seen many companies move toward the use of soy inks, containing water-based solvents. These are more environmentally friendly as they are more easily cleaned, recycled, or disposed of than oil-based solvent inks. Soy ink composition varies with the printing process; cards are most often printed using sheet-fed printing and the soy ink for that includes between 20%-30% soybean oil, resins, pigments, and waxes.

During the printing process that before an entire run of cards is processed, a couple of examples of the cards are run off and checked. The cards are examined and checked to see that there are no spelling mistakes, that the design has not been smudged and to ensure the imprint is of acceptable quality. They will be particularly checking to see that no colour corrections or ink adjustments need to be made before the print run starts. When the proof is approved and signed-off, the printing process can begin.

It is not unusual for a printing run of up to 250,000 cards to be printed in one go. Large runs such as this are often printed using sheet fed offset printing that permits the printer to print between 5,000-15,000 sheets per hour. The printing press takes a single sheet of paper at a time, generally printing all of the black images and words first. It then moves quickly to the next metal plate (which applies a different colour) without allowing time for drying the just-applied inks.

While on the press, an aqueous coating (that provides shine) is applied to the just-printed card by another plate. The cards then left to air dry for up to five days. The cards are then cut to size, packaged and sent out to the shops
About the Author
Andrew Gibson is MD of The Card and Gift Company. It is one of the fastest growing on line greeting card websites. To see an example of why The Card and Gift Company is growing so rapidly have a look at Birthday Cards
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