The customer’s request was actually quite simple: a folding card, 4 pages, 1/2-coloured with special colour HKS 13, 350g / m² chromo card, trimmed, creased, folded and inserted into suitable envelopes, labelled and subsequently shipped. No problem at all, that’s our daily business! Or so we thought. But there was still the specification of the dimensions: closed: DIN A2, open: DIN A1. Certainly a spelling error. We called the customer to ask if he knew how big DIN A1 was? 59.4 x 84.1 cm! Indeed he knew.
Planning the job
There are probably only very few printers who have ever produced a postcard this size, few that can do it at all. To us it is always a challenge to make the unusual possible. First the entire production process had to be thought through to determine if there might be any insurmountable obstacles arising due to the large format of the card. The printing press can handle these dimensions easily… it’s a standard sheet size, so no problem. Likewise our guillotine cutter. But a folding card still has to be creased so that the spine doesn’t crack…!
Creasing machines are usually not designed for print sheet dimensions as the paper is normally trimmed to the final format before it is creased. So was our project doomed to fail just because of a simple crease-line? We considered grooving instead of creasing. (A groove is an incision in the substrate that is made with a blade whereas a crease is an embossed line). But we quickly discarded the option for technical reasons. Finally the saving idea: We still have a historical hand creasing machine in a back corner of our basement: cast iron, weighs half a ton, made by Maschinenbauanstalt Karl Krause Leipzig, constructed approx. 1910! A museum piece actually. But such machines don’t ever break. Creasing width: 60 cm. The card is 59.4 cm.
We sometimes have to re-learn what was everyday routine for our colleagues back in 1910: working with our hands and our feet! One by one(!) each card had to be shoved into the machine and aligned in the correct angle. And because machinery wasn’t electric a hundred years ago, a strong step on the foot pedal is needed to create an even crease-line. And then? Is there a folding machine for 350g cardboard in DIN A1? No. So in the next step, each card had to be manually closed. With 1,000 cards of this format, this also is an effort that should not be underestimated.
Yet another problem had to be solved: inserting the cards into envelopes. There are virtually no DIN C2 envelopes on the market. Only packaging for calendars, but those have a technical filling height of 10mm. That would be too bulky for a “simple” folding card. Apart from that, 1,000 such boxes would have resulted in a stack 10 meters high… But finally, we found a supplier who could offer envelopes made of corrugated cardboard in the format in question. The necessary quantity had to be drawn from several warehouses in Germany because the product is so rarely in demand that no single warehouse had sufficient stock. Enveloping itself was of course again… a manual procedure! No inserting machine can do this, no letter shop, no mailing centre, no shipping service provider has any technical equipment for this task. But we had our hands…
We enjoy such extraordinary challenges! We never stop learning. And… Eigentlich ist es einfach – It’s easy actually!
© Copyright Bilder: Johannes Albrecht