How Innovative Printing Techniques Help our Clients Stand Out

By Theresa Attalla / 17 Jul 2018


It often feels like technology moves too fast to keep up with, but it’s our job at Blue Star Design to stay on pace. Our clients engineer our world, build software, and cure diseases, so we bring our A game to give them the best for their marketing needs. We accomplish this by staying on top of cutting edge technology and services to create innovative solutions that align with our clients’ goals.

Our recent work for the 2018 MetroHealth Gala save-the-date postcards is a perfect example.

The MetroHealth System is in the process of a major campus transformation to improve their healthcare systems. It needs funding and must grab the attention of high-quality donors for the best donor acquisition strategy. It also needs to be innovative in how it communicates its ask because there is competition for these dollars.

The key to an effective donor retention strategy is to make your donors feel like they are the most important person in the world. Every touch — every document and leave behind — should be created with a great respect for the recipient.

Creating a high-quality piece for a high-quality donor means considering specialty sizes, shapes, die cuts, and inks. But doing this with limited budgets and limited quantities is a challenge.

The good news is that today’s digital presses can offer very sophisticated results in small batches at a reasonable cost, and the technology is only getting better. Our relationships with our excellent printing partners is really paying off for our clients.

The Flash is in the Finish

When clients are in need of a bit of flash to grab attention, designers will use special finishes for visual impact. Finishes are specialty operations performed after the ink has been applied to the paper.

An example of a finishing is foil stamping which gives a shiny, lustrous finish. Foil stamping is a specialized process that uses heat and pressure to apply a metallic foil to a printed paper.

In order to do this, metal dies are created in the appropriate shape for each color foil applied to a particular design. Dies are heated and then stamped with enough pressure to seal a thin layer of foil to the paper. Each color is applied individually through multiple runs of the press to create the final design.

Many clients are reluctant to use finishes like foil stamping because:

  1. It’s expensive. Foil stamping requires custom foil stamping tools and metal die. These dies cost hundreds of dollars to make. It is also a labor-intensive printing method that requires multiple runs through a press to achieve the designs. As a result, foil stamping can be expensive. For small runs, the die setup is probably going to dominate the per piece price to the point of driving a project out of the budget.
  2. It takes longer to print. Because a die needs to be made for hot-stamped foiling, production time is increased considerably. Some printers have to send the work out of house to a facility that specializes in foil stamping, adding even more days to production.
  3. It’s impossible to produce a proof with the finishing before going to press. The client has to trust the designer that the finished piece will turn out how it’s being described, not how it looks on paper. That’s a lot of trust when there is a budget on the line and bosses to impress.

Partnering with the Best for an Ohio First


One of our preferred printing partners, Northern Ohio Printing, recently installed a new, impressive finishing press — the only press of its kind in the area and all of Ohio.

This new press — the Scodix Ultra Pro Spot UV with Foil Station — is able to produce the upscale finishing we needed for our MetroHealth project.

“We were so glad to partner with Blue Star Design to make MetroHealth’s save the date postcards and to have it be the first printing job on the Scodix Ultra Pro. Since then, we’ve already had several shop tours,” said Gary Chmielewski, President of Northern Ohio Printing. “People are impressed by the Scodix’s speed and capabilities, and we’re very excited about the future.”

The press allows us to mimic hot foil stamping with a new process called cold foil. It’s even possible and affordable to run a minimum of one piece with this technique. What's the difference between hot foil and cold foil? We're glad you asked. According to Dual Print & Mail:

  • Hot Foil: A die, or stamp, of the design to be foiled is mounted on the stamping machine above the paper and is then heated. The sheet of foil runs between them so that when pressure is applied from the die onto the paper, the foil is fixed to its surface. Because pressure is a main ingredient to hot foiling, the foil has dimension and a distinct feel.
  • Cold Foil: A UV-curable adhesive (ie., a type of glue that is dried by UV light) is printed on the paper in the shape of the design that is to be foiled. Then the foil is pressed onto the paper, and is stripped away where no adhesive was printed. After a quick run under the UV light, the product is finished.

There are bonus benefits for cold foil stamping:

  • A cold foil press can create precise detail like tiny dots or thin lines across a larger area of your piece.
  • Because the color of the foil is printed on after the foil is glued onto the piece, gradients can be applied adding depth to your project.

The Scodix Ultra Pro Spot UV comes with an optional module, the Scodix Foil Station. It can create unmatched foil enhancement capabilities and is ideal for commercial printers coping with short to medium runs. The Scodix Foil can deploy a wide range of hot and cold industry standard foil films.

Decoding Your Designer

The Result

Blue Star's work for the MetroHealth Gala 2018 was the first project to come off the first and only digital enhancement press in Ohio.

Blue Star was able to produce a sophisticated product within a very limited budget. NOP was able to run a paying project off the press immediately after installation. And MetroHealth saw an impressive final product to send out to prospective donors. It was a win-win-win for everyone.

We have a passion for connecting people to achieve better health outcomes. We excel at developing strategies and creating solutions that connect with an intended audience — whether that piece is a save the date or an app like Positive Peers. And we believe every project deserves the respect of a great design.

Give us a call today to find out how we can help you make the most of your marketing budget and achieve your goals.

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