As a teacher of a variety of fundamental topics, I find that more information is retained is when one goes through an immersive hands-on experience. In one of our weekly financial marketing training sessions at our Burnaby Heights office, I learned that one of our colleagues, Amanda Wykes, also works at a local printing facility that operates 24/7 in Burnaby.

Though any design looks like artsy fun, over the years I learned how important it was to have the many stakeholders involved in a marketing projects, especially when it involved mass printing production. It looks so easy to put together images and text on a screen. Often times we forget about the printing challenges one may face.

2016-staplesvisit-1043Amanda introduced us to Pamela, the General Manager of the Staples Burnaby Print Production Center. This production center is the offsite hub for all of the printing across the Staples locations in BC. Pamela, who has been in the printing industry for over 38 years, shared with us the basics of printing history from letterpress (you can visit the Burnaby Village Museum to see theirs), lithography (you can go to Malaspina Print on Granville Island for classes), offset, to digital. I was really happy for the students to hear from an industry professional about things to consider for an optimized print job such as:

  • File and Paper quality
  • Amount of pages
  • Designing on a white background means you’ll save money on your print job, designing on a dark background may bring print issues … thus may cost more
  • Give wiggle room like bleed and time frame
  • Providing a sample of what you have seen before when you submit a print job to any printer helps them give you a better quote
  • Quotes are never final, as sometimes there are other aspects that need to be considered in regards to materials, time, files, etc.
  • There are pros and cons to both offset and digital printing to understand
  • Communication is key to customer service
  • Not one print house in one location can do it all, team work is very important

What my Package Design Students learned from our visit: 

I learned what the difference is between digital and offset print, how do they work, and when is best option for choosing one over the other. Digital is like fusing ink onto the paper.
– Silvia Cordivani (@silviacordivani)

Coil binding books by hand at Staples – Photo by Michal Skrada

At this production facility, it’s a digital printing system. And there is a lot of work like bindery done by hand.
– Asako Makino

Printing at Staples is a good option if you’re printing mid-size quantities. You need to think about what happens to your piece after it’s printed: Will it be printed on again like a letterhead or envelope? Will it be a long lasting display product? Does it need to be accurate in colour?
– Michal Skrada

Photo by Carla Born

Calibration and optimization of all digital printing machines happen at least once a day to keep customers happy to provide consistency in colour accuracy.
– Carla Born (@carlawborn)

Automated Business Card Cutter-asakomakino
Photo by Asako Makino

Thanks again to Pamela for the very comprehensive tour around the Staples print production facility. Thank you Amanda for connecting our class to this wonderful hands-on learning opportunity.

Visiting Staples Printing Burnaby: Henrique Itoh, Pamela Kortgaard, Asako Makino, Michal Skrada, Silvia Cordivani, Carla Born and Yumi Ang