MorningPrint Hint: Understanding the Margin of Error

Good Monday morning world! Today we wanted to talk about a common issue we hear about from our clients in the offset gang printing industry.

You set up your artwork for print. You use the guideline set up, your text is within the safezone.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.54.19 AM

you submit your order and when you get it back the text is touching the edge of the document and the whole design looks off-center.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 11.58.08 AM

What happened? The file was set up so the text was in the safezone and there seemed to be enough space between the text and the edge of the document. Within gang printing there are certain margins of error. When you are looking at the template, the cut line and safezone these are approximate, not exact. Due to cutting processes the cards can shift any direction 1-2mm. So while your text is within the safezone, the only thing the safezone actually guarantees is that everything within the zone will not be cut off. However slight shifts can occur anywhere from 1-2mm. So as you can see the text in the above example was not cut off but a shift of 2mm did occur.

So how can we improve the outcome? Considering we cannot eliminate the 1-2mm margin or error to reduce the appearance of the design being off-centered, you will want to move the text and graphics you wish not be cut off, further into towards the middle of the design.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 12.08.45 PMIn the above example you can see there is ample space between the edge of the safezone and the text, so now if a shift occurs it will be less noticeable.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 12.11.47 PM

This 1-2mm margin of error is an industry standard in gang printing, and it is also why we do not recommend creating borders within designs as a shift can cause the whole design to appear to be off center. Keep in mind that a possible shift can affect a few, some, most, all, or none of the cards. So it is possible that you can print the same file at 2 different times, and one set can look perfectly center while the second run, there may be shifts etc. This is due to the process of cutting in which the cards are stacked and cut all at once, the pressure of the blade, the character of the stock etc. can cause these shifts.

So give the safezone some space and allow room for slight shifts and the end result will be much more favorable! So now that you know, design with confidence. And as always, print responsibly.

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