Pedal to the Metal
For publishers that want to roll out new titles with thunder, fronting them with a heavy metal paper could be the answer. Used primarily to manufacture jackets and paperback bookcovers, metallized papers possess characteristics that more readily attract customer attention in the bookstore.
Metallized paper is often specified by the publisher in order to create a dramatic, livelier affect. "We use it occasionally on a lot of sci-fi type books," says John Carbone, chief operating officer of Phoenix Color (www.phoenixcolor.com). "Word Publishing, a religious group, also uses it quite a bit to enhance its crosses."
Carbone says publishers may also choose the metal paper when a larger area needs to be stamped and a high amount of heat and pressure are required. "You just don't get that with regular stock. What you get is a lot of picking [where the surface of the sheet lifts off during printing] from regular stock and it is not as clean or even as metallized paper."
Metallized paper is often easier to work with than foil stamping, says Chuck O'Shea, director of print management for Coral Graphics (www.coralgraphics.com). "Foil stampers will do a block on the front cover, which causes problems [during] printing and you don't get that with metallic paper.
"Basically we use the process to print on both metallized stock and foil."
Religious book publisher Multnomah Publishers of Portland is one of Coral Graphics' customers. The company's trade titles with metallized paper covers include The Veritas Conflict, Tempered Steel and Such A Time As This.
Metallic papers tend to take longer to dry than conventional stock because the inks are not absorbed into the sheet. Coral Graphics uses an oxybind ink with an oxidation process that dries overnight from the top down.
"Everything has to be dried in racks of 200 or 300 sheets," says O'Shea, "and you have to be careful because the inks are just laying on top of the sheet and are not being absorbed by the paper."
To avoid this, Phoenix Color uses ultraviolet inks, which dry immediately. "We generally print on [metallic paper] with UV ink. Due to the fact that it is a foil service, it takes a while for conventional ink to dry," says Carbone. "We don't have to rack it or anything like that. It comes out of the press bone dry."
Another consideration that goes into choosing what inks should be used is how well one can read the final product.
"When you are printing over film, your image becomes a little darker, because of the lack of opacity," says Meghan Shupe, a graphic designer with Phoenix Color. "I would put down an opaque white first to really make the logo stand out."
White or opaque colors would also need to be specified on areas of the print job where metallic paper is not specified, says Raymond Marziano, vice president of operations for Brady Palmer (www.bradypalmer.com).
During its drying process, Brady Palmer uses a proprietary drying formula in the ink. "Occasionally we would have to rack it [for example] in an extremely heavy coverage where more than two inks print over each other," explains Marziano.
Though foil stamping does give the print job a metallic look, metallized paper is more convincing. In addition, it requires no dyes, is substantially cheaper than foil stamping and is done in one process as opposed to two. Metallized paper does have one drawback in that it has a tendency to curl more. As a result, printers suggest the best results are achieved when an 80-lb. stock is used.
"We like to use a 100-lb. paper or even higher," says Carbone. "When an 80-lb. stock is used, it tends to wrinkle a bit more." For that reason metallized paper requires a little more attention on the presses, Carbone adds, as it can buckle, but it is often preferred because it eliminates picking.
Marziano says Brady Palmer offers a 100-lb. text weight metallic coated on one side and a 10-pt., one-side coated metallized cover weight stock. According to Marziano, the paper embosses as well as other stocks and handles well on the press. "We've been running it some 20-odd years. We run it in the vicinity of 10 million sheets a year."
Marziano added metallized paper is not specific to one type of publisher, and all publishers from university presses to trade publishers use it.
"The look [publishers] are trying to achieve is that of foil stamping with the advantage of not having to use stamping dyes and the cost associated with that."
Though a lower paper cost is a good incentive, the end result of a flashier, more eye-catching cover printed on metallic paper could be well worth the investment.