Printing the cards
It is important to note that before an entire run of cards is processed, a couple of examples are run off and submitted for “proofing.” The designers, marketers, graphic artists, press operators, etc. examine the card and check it carefully to ensure the imprint is of acceptable quality. Minor color corrections or ink adjustments occur before the print run can proceed. When the proof receives the sign-off, mass-printing begins.
Greeting cards, often printed in runs of 400,000 or more, are often printed using sheet fed offset printing that permits the printer to print between 4,000-18,000 sheets per hour. When ink and a fountain solution (water with chemical additives) are applied to the laser-burned metal plate in the right proportion, the image to be printed accepts ink but repels the fountain solution. The non-image (white or background area) attracts the fountain solution and repels the ink and is left unprinted. From the plate, the image is applied under pressure to a rubber canvas called a blanket. From the image is then transferred onto a sheet of paper. The sheets of paper to be printed, about 20 x 35 in (50.8 x 88.9 cm), are put on the press mechanically. The press grabs a single sheet of paper at a time, generally printing all of the black images and words first, and then moving quickly to the next metal plate (which applies a different color of the design) without allowing time for drying the just-applied inks. While on the press, an aqueous coating (that provides shine) is applied to the just-printed card by another plate. The cards then air dry for approximately five to six days.
Cutting apart and packaging
After the sheeted cards are completely dried, they are cut into individual cards from the larger sheet by a die cutter. The sheets are inserted into the die cutter and an apparatus that resembles a cookie cutter cuts them apart in one stroke. The cards are now a long strip that is yet unfolded.
The card is then sent to the folding machine where it is creased and folded automatically. Cards are often packed by hand and assembled with their envelopes in carton quantities of 700.