Typically when evaluating paper, the buyer looks at the standard offering made by the paper manufacturer. It’s a family of papers with consistent attributes (like fiber content, opacity, brightness, smoothness, to name a few) available in a range of basis weights with options in the areas of shade, finish, fiber certification and recycled content.
Think about your paper usage and ask yourself these four questions:
1. ARE YOU USING THE RIGHT FIBER TYPE?
If you buy the highest quality publishing paper from a manufacturer, you probably get a high bright, opaque paper made with freesheet content. That combination is ideal for applications that require permanence and in which aesthetics are important. If lowering costs are the top priority and the publication has a shorter shelf life, groundwood is a great option. Market innovations in the area of Premium Hybrid papers blend groundwood and freesheet content to give buyers the best of both fiber attributes. Now publishers who never thought they could use a groundwood-containing paper have another option.
2. HAVE YOU TESTED DIFFERENT BRIGHTNESS OR OPACITY LEVELS?
Just like anything that gets made, what goes into the finished product impacts the cost. The more you add and the higher quality of the ingredients, the more expensive the finished product. With paper, we call it over-specification. If you are using a higher opacity or heavier basis weight than required, you are probably paying more than you need for your paper. Leading manufacturers of publishing papers make a range of products that give choices to buyers. Most people think they need the highest possible brightness or the most opacity, but in reality, they don’t. Depending on the application, changing either variable by a point or two may not be noticeable to the eye, but WILL impact the bottom line.
3. ARE YOU USING THE IDEAL BASIS WEIGHT?
Moving to a lighter paper is an easy way to drive cost-savings. Going from a 26 lb. to a 24 lb. publishing paper will save you money. A lighter paper might have a higher price, but you will use less as you pay for paper by weight. PPI, or Pages per Inch, is a key variable to monitor. Lightweight paper manufacturers tend to run to caliper to ensure the PPI is consistent for publishing applications. The thinner the paper, the higher the yield—which translates to saving money.
4. SHOULD YOU EXPLORE A CUSTOMIZED PAPER?
If you are not certain the mill has exactly what you need, the next option to co-develop customized paper specifications. This process enables you to pinpoint EXACTLY what you need. The specifications are agreed upon by the mill after rigorous product evaluation and testing. It is important to note that volume can be a barrier to entry for this option. Manufacturers require fairly significant quantities to customize a product.
Periodically re-evaluate your paper selection to ensure you aren’t over specifying based on your application needs. Paper manufacturers will work with you to test the variables and use their expertise to make recommendations—at no cost to you.