Printing Lingo: What is Envelope Converting?

Envelope Converting refers to the process of transforming paper into envelopes

Envelope Converting refers to the process of creating envelopes from sheets or rolls of paper. The paper is “converted” into envelopes using several steps, including die-cutting, folding, and gluing.

Stock vs Custom Converted Envelopes

Business envelopes are manufactured in many types and sizes. Each design fills a particular functional and/or promotional need. When it comes to printed envelopes, some projects match well with stock (pre-converted) envelopes while other projects require custom-converted envelopes.

Large envelope converters produce stock envelopes by the millions. In most cases, these are packaged and warehoused until needed. Stock envelopes are either sold to end-users as blank envelopes, or sold to commercial printers who apply custom printing to them for specific customer projects. In fact, most custom-printed business envelopes are able to be created by imprinting on stock (pre-converted) envelopes.

Conversely, custom envelopes are converted on a project-by-project basis. Custom envelopes are created for consumers that have a special need that cannot be met with a stock envelope. Any printing that needs to be done is usually performed prior to cutting and folding the paper into envelopes. Also, depending on the desired style and features of the envelope, custom converting generally requires a minimum order of 5,000 to 10,000 pieces.

Circumstances that dictate the need for custom converting include the following…

Full-Color Envelopes – many envelopes that serve a promotional purpose are created using full-color images or designs printed on both sides of the envelope. Because the seams of a pre-converted envelope can interfere with the proper application of ink, it is best to print envelopes with multi-sided images before they are converted (while the paper is still flat). Also, images or colors that bleed or wrap-around from one side to the other require custom converting.

Unique Size – certain envelope projects require non-standard dimensions. For example, a direct mail piece may draw more attention as an uncommon size. Or perhaps an envelope needs special proportions to accommodate unusually-shaped or under/oversized contents. In these cases, the perimeter of the envelope must be cut with a custom-sized die prior to folding and gluing.

Non-Standard Window – envelopes are often created with one or more die-cut windows. A window allows a portion of the envelope’s content to be visible even when the envelope is sealed. Windows are most commonly used to display a delivery address, though there are many other uses as well. Custom converting allows the size, shape, and/or location of the window(s) to meet any special requirement.

Special Interior Tint – a security tint printed on an envelope’s interior helps prevent confidential information from being read through the envelope. It is not uncommon for a business or organization to want a custom security tint, such as its name or logo in a repeating design on the interior of the envelope. Since it is impossible to print on the inside of a pre-converted envelope, custom converting is the only solution.

Embossing – applying an embossed image to a stock (pre-converted) envelope will result in a debossed image on the reverse side. If this is undesirable, the embossing must be performed while the paper is still flat. Then, once the paper is converted into an envelope through die-cutting, folding and gluing, there will be no debossed image visible on the reverse side.

Use Custom Converting to Match your Exact Needs

When used for promotion, custom-converted envelopes provide a great way to differentiate your company. In fact, the first impression you make is often the business envelope that your correspondence and marketing materials are delivered in. If it is improved function you are after, custom conversion also allows your envelope to have the ideal size and features you require.

If you have any questions about envelope converting, or would like to discuss an upcoming envelope project, give Formax Printing a call at (314) 434-5500 or (866) 367-6221. Let us help you develop the optimal solution for your custom envelope needs.

Take care! Keith

About the Author

Keith Beaty is the owner of Formax Printing Solutions in St. Louis, MO. Formax provides a complete array of offset and digital printing services. Specialty areas include book printing, full-color printing, laminated printing, map printing, plus fulfillment and mailing services. If you ever have a printing question or project you would like to discuss, Keith is always happy to help. He can be reached at 866-367-6221. Keith and Formax have been providing worry-free printing and related services since 1985.

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