Printing Processes

Engraving
engraving crane

Engraving​ is the finest, most distinct form of three-dimensional “raised printing.” No other paper manufacturer offers our engraving quality, craftsmanship and level of service.

As a highly skilled craft dating back to the 16th century, engraving conveys an unspoken message of distinction and timelessness. It has a warmth and elegance all its own. Running your fingers over a piece of engraved stationery reveals the textures unique to engraving — finely detailed, raised letters with slight indentations on the reverse side of the paper. There is no substitute for true engraving.

How it Works

  1. Text is typeset by computer in the lettering style selected by the customer. It is then reproduced as a “reverse” photographic image on a film negative.
  2. The film negative is placed on a chemically treated copper plate.
  3. Light passing through the film exposes the text image on the surface of the plate.
  4. The plate is dipped in acid and the exposed surface is chemically etched. (Some types of etching is done by hand.)
  5. The copper plate is called a die. The die is now ready for die-stamping, the process of transferring ink to paper from an engraved die.
  6. The die is placed on the press and a “counter” is cut to approximately the size of the area taken up by the engraved letters on the die.
  7. On the press, ink is applied to the die. The ink is wiped off the surface of the die but the ink remains in the engraved cavity.
  8. The counter concentrates the pressure of the press on the area in which the image is to be engraved, forcing part of the paper into the etched cavity of the die, creating inked, raised surfaces in the paper. This is the process that creates the sharp definition that is associated with the engraving art.

Each color selected requires a separate engraving plate and a separate pass through the press.

It is easy to tell whether a piece of stationery has been engraved. Simply turn it over. If there is an indentation (caused by the pressure from the engraving press), it is engraved. You can also tell by looking closely at the impression on the front. The paper will be smoother and there may be a little ripple to the sheet.

A lovely detail: Customers will receive a copper plate with their order, which can be re-used for future orders.

Embossing
embossing crane

Embossing, or blind embossing, is similar to engraving in that a raised image is created by pressing paper onto a copper plate. But unlike engraving, no ink is used in the process. Instead, the raised image stands on its own on the page, bringing an understated elegance and highly sophisticated look to the final product.

For every embossed project, a master craftsman creates a one-of-a-kind die depicting the desired initials or image. While the initial cost of the die can be pricey, the die can be used repeatedly saving on future production runs. Because the quality of the final impression relies heavily on the quality of the paper used, soft papers such as Crane's 100% cotton sheets are the preferred choice.

Most frequently associated with stationery, notes and cards bearing a family coat of arms or monograms, embossing is also used for the return address on the outside envelope of wedding invitations and most frequently for personal correspondence cards. In addition, high-end businesses and institutions of higher learning often choose to use embossing for their letterhead and business cards.

The simple, no-ink elegance of embossing contributes to its timeless appeal and makes it very easy to distinguish from other types of printing.

Letterpress
letterpress crane

Developed in the 14th century, letterpress printing involves setting type and motifs in reverse on a letterpress plate. The plate is then inked and pressed onto the surface of a paper. The pressing process transfers the ink and leaves a deep impression on the paper creating a three dimensional print that has a feel unlike any other type of printing.

The nature of the printing demands a high quality, and generally heavier weight, paper that will not tear or thin when pressed. Crane 100% cotton papers are ideal as they the fibers contained within it are soft and readily accept an impression as well as ink.

As you might expect, letterpress printing is both time- and labor-intensive. Prints are made one-at-a-time with each print having its own unique variations of ink coverage and depth of impression. That extra effort is reflected in both the final product and cost. For that reason, letterpress is typically reserved for short-run items such as wedding invitations, personal stationery, business cards, greeting cards, and specialty folders.

Wonderfully tactile and simply exquisite, letterpress printing has a rich, warm feel that one can't help but appreciate.

Digital Printing
digital printing crane

Digital printing is a fast, affordable method of printing ideal for full-color, short run projects.

Digital printing relies on computer technology to print images direct from a computer to paper. But unlike traditional printing, digital printers spray the ink onto the paper rather than imprint it. As a result, digital images tend to have flat, one-dimensional appearance, however the rich colors provided by a high-end printing system more than make up for the difference.

The quality of the final product depends largely on the quality of the digital printer and paper used. Crane’s high-end printers and 100% cotton papers render truly spectacular results.

Digital printing is the preferred choice for reproducing color and black-and-white photographs on cards, announcements and invitations. No other printing method can match the crisp look and true color match that digital printing provides.

Thermography
thermography crane

One of the most affordable types of printing, thermography involves adding a resinous powder to the printing ink. When the combination is heated and dried it creates a slightly raised effect.

Sometimes referred to as "imitation engraving", thermography produces an effect similar to but not quite as elegant as engraving. Because it does not require the creation of an engraved plate, thermography is less expensive and faster than engraving.

Speed of delivery and price make thermography a natural choice for short-run business applications including business cards, marketing materials, announcements, programs, menu cards, invitations and envelopes. On the personal side, thermography is also a popular choice for informal stationery, greeting cards, note cards, and invitations.​ ​​​​

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Foil Stamping
foil stamping crane

Foil stamping is a process for which foils made of metal or other materials, available in various colors, are carried on a plastic sheet and transferred through a stamping process onto paper.

Flat Printing

Also known as lithography, flat printing is created by ink applied to a flat printing plate. It is the most common but least distinctive printing technique.

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