Clubcard provides a complete range of printing techniques, from offset and digital printing to large format and flexographic printing, to produce business cards, postcards to stickers, brochures, fine art prints and more. Read below to learn how each of the printing methods works so you can choose the best option for you project.
With over a quarter century of experience and friendly customer service, our team is proud to serve clients around the globe since 1994.
How Printing Works
Offset Printing is a technique in which your artwork image is transferred through a series of ink reservoirs, solution fountains and rollers from a metal plate to a rubber blanket and then “offset” onto the printing surface. The process uses these rollers, plates and blankets to get the ink applied to the image carrier or "print areas" and a water based fountain solution applied to the "non-print" areas keeping them ink-free.
Offset presses are very large. In fact, a full color press with special finishing options can be 40 feet or more in length. Modern offset presses are marvels of technology and produce print work of incredible quality with amazing finishing options.
The press sheets for these presses range in size from 20 x 26 inches up to 20 x 40 inches and are not inexpensive to operate. For most small to midsize jobs, it would not be cost effective to pay the set up and running costs by yourself. At Clubcard, we use the club run printing method to leverage the advantages of these large offset presses.
What is Club Run Printing? Clubcard is able to offer low prices for very high quality printing using the "Club Run" printing method, where we combine your print job with several others at the same time (usually 40-60 different jobs) on the same press on a set of standard stocks and run in set quantities. Club-Run printing is where the Clubcard name originated. Combining jobs on club runs is a bit like crowd-sourcing as it allows us to gain efficiencies, offer special papers and unique printing methods while passing along the savings of the shared cost of set-up, printing and trimming to everyone on that shared press sheet.
The club run process requires a window of time to compile, map and position all the files, conduct pre-press technical procedures, make printing plates, print, dry and trim all of the jobs on the press sheet. Production times range from 4 business days up to 12 business days. Be sure to choose a production time that meets your deadline when placing your order. Once your job is mapped and positioned on a club run, it is not possible to change, rush or cancel your order.
When printing several jobs on a shared press sheet, we must adjust the color globally to get the best overall results for all of the jobs on that sheet. This means the color of club run printed items will vary from traditional color swatch books and color will also vary on re-prints. With these factors in mind, color critical jobs are not suited to the club-run printing method. We suggest choosing one of our digital or indigo printing options when color fidelity is a critical part of your project. We also welcome custom estimate requests.
Custom Project Offset Printing - we welcome custom, bespoke offset printing services via our online request form. Custom offset pricing reflects the fact your project will be produced to your unique specifications without the cost saving benefits of club run printing or shared set up and running costs.
Letterpress Printing refers to a technique of printing that creates an impression in the paper leaving a tactile feeling of depth. Invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century, letterpress printing ranks as one of the most revolutionary disruptive technologies in history and became the standard form of printing used until the introduction of offset presses in the 19th century.
The process involves an ink fountain reservoir filled with Pantone inks that feeds into a fountain roller wiped by a fountain blade that reduces and varies the ink flow. A ductor-roller transfers ink to the main ink plate where the ink is imprinted onto the stock being printed. Letterpress inks are thick and paste-like, similar to those used in offset printing. While most of us associate letterpress printing with a deep impression left in the stock where ink is applied, a true test of the skill of a letterpress operator is to print ink with no impression shown on the stock. At Clubcard, we are proud to be part of the revival of this beautiful art form, continuing this age old printing tradition with a modern twist.
Digital Printing is a process that sends a digital image of your artwork via specialized image processing computers to industrial grade lasers that fire electrically charged colored toners onto the paper or card stock you have selected for your project. Because lasers and toner are used to print directly on the stock, there is no need for plates to be created or replaced, making digital printing a green printing method ideal for rush printing and short run projects.
At Clubcard, we use environmentally safe polymer based toners to print your image in full color using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and optional White. Digital toner does not permeate the stock. Instead, it forms in a thin layer on the surface. Paired with one of our many recycled stocks, digital printing has the lowest environmental impact of any printing process.
Indigo Printing is a hybrid print process that is produced on a Hewlett Packard Indigo press (aka HP Indigo). The Indigo printing process encompasses the advantages of digital printing with near offset print quality. There are no metal plates required as a digital image of your artwork is sent to a photoconductor that transfers liquid toner ink to a heated offset blanket, which then transfers the imaged ink to the stock being printed. Indigo printing uses environmentally safe liquid toner to produce your image in full color using Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black and optional White. Many of the stocks offered with indigo printing are 100% recycled for eco-conscious printing.
Flexographic Sticker - flexography printing, also called "flexo", is a printing process derived from the letterpress method using a mirrored 3D image of your artwork created on a polymer plate. This three dimensional aspect allows the image areas that will be printed to be raised above the non-image areas on the plate. The ink is transferred through a series of rollers in order of the the fountain roller, anilox roller, ductor blade, plate cylinder and impression cylinder to imprint the image on the stock.
Before printing begins, the stock for your job is wound onto a roll that is mounted to the press, fed under tension through the press, and sandwiched between the plate cylinder and the impression cylinder where the final image is impressed onto the stock. (If you have ever loaded film into a projector, it is a similar idea). As a final step, the printed stock passes through a dryer so the inks are cured prior to any extra steps like foil stamping, cutting to shape or laminating, and then the roll is rewound and taken off the press to be given to you on rolls or cut into single stickers.
Latex Ink Vinyl Sticker Printing - we produce weather-resistant vinyl stickers, banners and retractable banner stands on large format piezo ink jet printers that use CMYK full color latex inks. Latex inks are safe for the environment, the health of our employees and our clients.
Latex ink printing emits no volatile organic compounds and the resulting prints are waterproof, making the process ideal for vinyl sticker and banner printing that can be used outdoors without the need for lamination.
Large Format Printing - just like the name says, this printing method is suited to large size prints and is ideal for photographic reproduction on a variety of papers card stocks and artist canvas. Large format printing is commonly referred to as wide format printing or giclee printing. We produce large format prints using an 8 color process printer with specialized jets that spray ink onto the stock to create vibrant photorealistic images.
Fine Art Printing is ideal for limited edition art prints, canvas printing and archival quality prints for gallery exhibits and portfolio pieces. Your work is printed using a special 8 color ink press to achieve a a wide color gamut range of vivid and vibrant colors. Clubcard offers a variety of archival art paper stocks and artist canvas to choose from.
Temporary Tattoo Printing - this print process uses hypo-allergenic inks printed onto a backing paper that has a silicone release layer upon which a transfer film is printed with your artwork. This allows the fake tattoos to slide off (release) from the backing and onto onto your skin when moisture is applied. A medical grade adhesive is applied over the printed tattoo to ensure adherence to the skin and, in the final step, a protective plastic sheet is placed over the tattoos before trimming. Temporary tattoos can be easily removed with baby oil or naturally wear off after 2-3 days.