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Planning to Reduce Foil Waste

by Staff

February-March, 2013
The effective use of a foil roll begins with design planning, continues with an open line of communication with the customer and ends with an experienced operator. InsideFinishing has consulted with Greg Greenwald, president of Scarab Printing Arts, a commercial print shop with full finishing capabilities; Paul W. Miller, technical support manager for API Foils, Inc., a global manufacturer of stamping foil; and Mark Porter, president of Dienamic MIS, a provider of software for the finishing and binding industries, to offer suggestions on reducing foil waste.

Planning before press
InsideFinishing: What suggestions can be given to customers on adjusting image positions to help maximize the use of the foil on the roll?

“This all depends on how early we are called into a project,” said Greg Greenwald. “Oftentimes – and it’s too often – we are called into a job after the printer has the proofs approved and the print layout worked out for plating.” But, Greenwald continued, when his company is consulted on the layout, he often asks for a visual file to manipulate into a layout that becomes foil efficient. “Printers like to step things so many items across a sheet and so many items down the sheet,” he explained. “We have them rotate the image so that it prints head-to-head, leading to efficient stepping between images.”

Greenwald said that experience can lead to increased cooperation between printers and finishers. “We were able to demonstrate this to a printer by turning a 10" step into a 5" step, creating more efficiency with the foil. Now that printer ‘gets it’ when I ask for visuals,” he explained.

Paul Miller added that the printer always should nest the images the best that they can and keep the same color of foils within the roll of images. “In other words, don’t have two images inline with each other that would require two different colors of foil,” he said. “That would result in having to run the sheet through the press two times.”

InsideFinishing: How much overage should be planned to minimize waste?

Miller recommended figuring five percent of waste per job. He said, “This overage is needed to allow the extra foil required to feed the foil through the press on large machines and for overflow sheets.” API Foils also provides a formula to its customers to help them determine the correct amount of foil per job (see below).

Calculating Foil Amounts (Information provided by API Foils.)

Calculate the amount of foil needed by using this example:

The foil stamped image area is 2" wide x 5" long. The job requires 10,000 sheets/impressions to stamp.

Add in the “extra” needed for crawl and spoilage to the job. In this case, five percent is calculated for spoilage and overages).

5.25" L X 10,500 sheets or impressions

Calculate L (length of the image) x Impressions then ÷ 12" = running feet of foil needed

(5.25" x 10,500 impressions = 55,125) ÷ 12" = 4600' (running feet)

Figure the yield out of a master roll 24” wide: Take 24" and ÷ by W (width of stamping area). In this case, 2.5".

24 ÷ 2.5 = 9 rolls per master

Take running footage ÷ 9 (# of rolls in a master) and round up to the nearest 100'.

4600' ÷ 9 = 511 (rounded up to a master 24" by 600'.)

In this case, the customer would need to purchase a 24" wide x 600' roll, cut to nine rolls 2.5" x 600' each and have one roll 1.5" x 600' as an end cut.

Greenwald provided a finisher’s perspective and said, “The amount of overage to calculate depends on quantity and foil image area, but typically we figure three to five percent in a quote… unless the printer assures us we will get a maximum number of sheets, and then we plan for that number plus 100 extra. If we have a large quantity of sheets (15,000 and up), we will figure for 500 to 750 extra sheets.”

Greenwald went on to explain that many times, Scarab Printing Arts is given a maximum number of sheets to run by the customer, no matter how many sheets are left over. “We figure 100 extra for our roll-end and roll-start spoilage,” he said. “We save these extra sheets until we know the job has been shipped by the customer because invariably, we get called to run some extra sheets.”

InsideFinishing: What other solutions are available to reduce foil waste?

“The foil vendor needs to know what substrate the foil will be applied to,” said Miller. “This is very important, because the foil that is used has to be compatible to the substrate; and if it’s not, then there will be issues that can lead to waste.”

Automating the foil calculation process
Mark Porter has a solution for those wanting to automate the foil calculation process. The Foil Calc App, developed in concert with finishers, is available for smartphones.

“Software has many usages within the business environment,” said Porter. It can run machines, control costs and measure performance. Software also is excellent for capturing the knowledge of experts and allowing their expertise to be used anywhere, at any time by less knowledgeable people.”

By building this knowledge into software, everyday tasks that must be performed multiple times per day can be done more quickly, more simply and more accurately. The more difficult the calculation and the more costly the material, the better suited the process is as an application for software.

The Foil Calc App allows finishers to determine the amount of foil material and cost required for each project whether at a customer’s facility, on the shop floor or in the car. The software application allows finishers to store common foils, roll length, cost, mark-up and whether or not full rolls must be purchased. Finishers have immediate access to vendor information, which includes roll width, roll length, cost and mark-up.

“By answering some basic questions about the number of sheets, the app can determine if a full roll must be purchased and the waste factor,” Porter explained. Additional information can be entered to increase the software’s accuracy, including the number of ribbons, the foil width and – if stepping is required – the finisher can enter the long pull, short pull and the number of short pulls. If only one spot of foil is needed, just the pull length can be entered.

The app can quickly provide the net feet required, feet required with waste, foil units, number of cuts out of the master roll, total rolls required, cost per M sheet, mark-up per M sheet and sell per M sheet. “The results can then be emailed back to the office so the foil can be ordered or allocated to the job,” said Porter, “which simplifies inventory.”

Although the expertise for many of the finishing industry’s tasks is held by the “experts”, technology is allowing the capture of that expertise through software programs and apps. The benefit is that the knowledge can be distributed to other employees, making the finishing company more flexible. The ability to provide quick, accurate calculations and better communication to the customer is a benefit to everyone.

InsideFinishing would like to thank Paul W. Miller, technical support manager for API Foils, Inc. (paul.miller@apifoils.com, www.apigroup.com); Greg Greenwald, president, Scarab Printing Arts (ggreenwald@scarabprint.com, www.scarabprint.com) and Mark Porter, president, Dienamic MIS (mark@dienamicmis.com, www.dienamicmis.com) for their assistance with this article.