The Self-mailer Challenge
• Understand the imaging technology. This sounds boring, but make sure you check on these aspects:
a. Is your paper too thick to laser? Have your production facility verify the stock on which you are lasering is compatible.
b. If you're planning on using spot or flood varnish, make sure your vendor verifies that its equipment can personalize on a stock that has varnish.
c. When you request a bid for "inkjet" personalization, make sure your vendor understands your intent. Some inkjet equipment can personalize anywhere on a side of a self-mailer, while other inkjet equipment can only image in 1˝ bands in limited locations. You need to be clear when you request a bid—and before you select the vendor—that the vendor's equipment can deliver on the self-mailer your design team has envisioned.
• To tab, or not to tab, that is the question. To qualify for automation postage rates, the open side of your folded self-mailer has to be sealed. The two most common options are tabs and glue. At THG, we rarely use tabs, since they are ugly, cover printing and usually rip the self-mailer when the recipient tries to open them. Release, or "fugitive," glue is our preferred method, since it easily releases and doesn't cover up any sales "real estate."
• Give the ink some time to dry. Yes, production is all about speed. However, self-mailers usually are printed on dense, thick and coated stock. That means you have to allow adequate time for the paper stock to dry, so that mailpieces can continue down the production assembly line and be successfully personalized and folded. Remember, you often are printing large, color solids on coated stock, then putting the ink-heavy materials through a heat or roller process to be personalized, and finally jamming it through folders before at long last it's allowed to rest before being dropped into the mail system.