by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 28, 2015)
Because of the way that laser printers actually place ink on paper, there are some special considerations that must be realized when ordering letterhead for use in the printer. If you don't follow the guidelines, you can ruin a good batch of paper, or worse, ruin the laser printer itself.
First, if you like your letterhead printed using thermography, you should realize that thermography and laser printers don't mix. (Thermography is a printing technology that allows the ink to rest on the surface of the paper. It is often used for business cards and letterhead.) Thermography is applied at relatively low heat and therefore has little heat tolerance. This means that the high heat used in a laser printer will cause the ink to come off the paper and adhere to the laser printer's drum. This damages the drum and affects all subsequent print quality.
Some people also like to use metallic foils in their letterhead. They catch the light very nicely, and provide a "rich" appearance. Foil is also applied with heat when printing the letterhead, but usually it is under a higher heat than what is used in thermography. Even so, very few foils will hold up under use in a laser printer. It takes an experienced foil stamper to accomplish a successful foil application to stationary for the purpose of laser printing. The first thing required for this purpose is the proper weight material—nothing less than a 24-pound stock should be used. Anything lighter cannot absorb enough heat from your laser printer to keep the foil from flaking off when passing the laser drum.
The type of paper stock used with the foil is also important. The paper should be a bond, cotton, rag, or another good material. The most critical element, however, is the type of foil used. In fact, without the correct foil no other step matters. A high-quality foil paper for laser printers is the MEZ series of foil distributed by API Foils. (They can be seen at http://www.api-worldwide.com.)
As far as using embossed letterhead, the same general considerations apply. The heavier the material, the better, and the type of embossing and the type of die used is very important. For example, a beveled embossing works better than a domed embossing, and copper or brass is much better than magnesium. Heat is also very important while embossing in order to hold a good embossing when printed on a laser printer.
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