To understand the importance of creasing when we are printing jobs for folded leaflets and booklets, you first must understand the paper issues that lead to the creation of paper cracks.
Factors that affect paper
1. Paper content
Paper can be affected by the thickness of the coating, the length of the internal fibres and the content of the fibres themselves. The way in which the bond between the coating and the base as well at the treatment of the pump can also change the structure of the paper. Low fibre content and heavy coatings can make paper unstable and this increases the chances of cracks appearing. Whilst all paper can be prone to cracking, due to its complex fibre structure, uncoated paper is less likely to produce cracks. However as coated paper can offer brighter colour prints and better reproductions it is often chosen over uncoated paper for materials such as posters, leaflets and brochures, booklets and magazines. Therefore simply opting for uncoated stocks to solve the issue of cracking is not an option.
2. The printing process
When paper is printed the process itself can reduce the flexibility of the paper. This is due to the use of heat which is rapidly applied to the paper before leaving the press. The heat increases the humidity of the paper, reducing flexibility and directly leading to the increased likelihood cracks forming. The use of various printing inks, coatings and varnishes often chosen for high end booklets and leaflets also lead the paper to become less flexible.
3. The environment
Directly related to humidity again, certain environments can affect the moisture of the paper, so the location where the printing is taking place may also increase the chances of cracks appearing in the paper.
Solving the problem of paper cracks
Based on the factors above, paper content, print methods and the environment can be carefully checked and tested to try to limit the chances of cracks appearing. This would involve monitoring humidity levels and experimenting with types of paper, coatings, inks and varnishes using high level technical resources.
Alternatively creasing is a method which aims to increase the paper flexibility when a fold is needed for leaflets, brochures or any other printed materials. First the paper is scored which ‘weakens the sheet’ by reducing the stiff nature of the paper along a fold. Creasing then involves compressing along the line where the fold will occur, this is known as internal delamination.
When you normally create a fold it is the outward force of the fold which causes the paper to split. Creasing therefore aims to direct all of the outward force inwards towards the delaminated line and continues to internally delaminate as the fold finishes. The inside of the fold creates a rounded bead which absorbs the outward force and helps the outside fold become stabilised. This creates a tight neat fold without the issue of cracking.
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