Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). If you have a specific question that is not addressed in this section, please contact Technical Support.


Printing costs are based on materials and labour. Offset printing requires the making of film and plates, setting up the press for the particular image, ink colour, size and type of paper being printed and washing up the press to make-ready for the next job. To print additional images while the press is set up for your custom job is only a matter of a small amount of press time and additional paper. Print-on-demand or digital printing has brought the cost of short-run printing down by eliminating the cost of film and plates, and reducing set-up times, although some set-up charges such as file handling still apply.

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Flat size refers to the dimensions of a unfolded printed piece. Finish size refers to the dimensions of a printed piece after all bindery processes have been applied, such as trimming, die-cutting, folding and binding.

Trim size refers to the size of a piece after it has been cut to size (as opposed to an uncut press sheet with bindery marks, colour bars, crop marks and bleeds).

A crop mark is a line printed outside the finished size of a piece that shows where the piece is to be cut to size.

A bleed is any image that extends beyond the trim size of a printed piece. A bleed is necessary on any image that extends to the edge of the trimmed sheet, since it is impossible to cut precisely on the edge of an image. The industry standard for a bleed is to extend the image 0.125" beyond the trim edge.

A PMS colour is a colour that is printed in an ink mixed according to the Pantone Matching System, which is a system of mixing colours by weight, using a standardized set of basic ink colours. This system is the international standard by which almost all printers mix their colours. Pantone colours are used in spot colour printing as opposed to four colour process.

Spot colours are custom mixed colours commonly used in one, two and three colour printing where reproduction of colour photos is not required. Four colour process refers to the process whereby all colours are broken down into four primary ink colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and blacK (CMYK, respectively). These four colours combined in various intensities are capable of reproducing colours found in photos and other full colour images.

A colour separation is any image carrier such as a film negative, paper positive, or digital channel breaking a piece into its individual colours (either process or spot) that is a component of multi-colour printing. When combined, the colour separations create a colour composite of the finished piece.

Digital printing refers to methods of printing in which the images are transferred directly to the printer without the use of physical image carriers such as film or plates. There are many different methods of digitally reproducing an image, some examples being toner devices using the xerographic method (much like photocopiers), computer-to-plate (where the image is created on a printing plate by a computer driven laser and the plate subsequently mounted on a press) and direct to press (where the image is created by a computer driven laser onto plates already mounted on a press) The latter process is used by Samco on its Heidelberg DI, resulting in high quality offset printing with the speed and economics of digital printing.

What is the difference between Digital Printing and Offset Printing?
Digital Printing Services

Offset printing is the printing method whereby ink is applied to a resist-type printing plate where the desired image is ink receptive. This image is then transferred to a rubber "blanket" that allows the image to transfer to a wide variety of paper substrates. This is by far the most common printing method for high quality printing.

What is the difference between Digital Printing and Offset Printing?
Offset Printing Services

A halftone is a photographic image broken down into varying densities of dots. This allows a printing device to reproduce a wide range of tones while printing in a single colour. By combining halftone images in the four primary printing colours (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) a full colour image can be reproduced.

A duotone is a two-colour halftone reproduction from a one-colour photograph.

LPI stands for lines per inch. This is a measure of halftone screen frequency, or the number of columns or rows of dots per inch in a halftone image. The optimum screen frequency for a halftone image varies from device to device, with most desktop laser printers having an optimum screen frequency of 60 lpi and offset presses using 133 to 175 lpi.

Resolution can be broken down into two categories: image resolution and printer resolution. These are two entirely different measurements. Image resolution refers to the pixel size of an image. In graphic arts terminology, image resolution refers to the number of pixels per inch in an image at the size it is to be reproduced. Printer resolution refers to the number of laser passes the printer uses per inch to create an image. This is commonly referred to as dots per inch. A low resolution desktop laser printer would typically print at 300 dots per inch, whereas a high resolution imagesetter would typically be capable of printing at 3600 dots per inch. Just to indicate the difference between lpi, ppi (pixels per inch) and dpi... a 600 dpi printer could print a 300 ppi image at 100 lpi screen frequency.

The rule of thumb is that the pixels per inch of the graphic at actual reproduction size should be twice the screen frequency of the printed piece. For example, if the image is going to be printed at 150 lpi on a press, the graphic should be 300 ppi at reproduction size.

For large format prints that are meant to be viewed at more than an arm's length away, it can go as low as 150 ppi at actual reproduction size.

A vector graphic is an image which shape, position, colour, density, etc. is described in the Postscript language and is therefore scalable and resolution independent. A bitmapped image is described in pixels and when scaled up the pixels are enlarged and can show a jagged edge if enlarged beyond the optimum size. Examples of vector drawing software include Adobe Illustrator, CorelDraw and others. Scanning and creating images in bitmap programs such as Adobe Photoshop creates bitmapped images.

We prefer .TIF files for four colour process bitmapped images and .EPS for vector images. .JPG and .PDF files can also be used as graphic formats for some of our devices, but it is best to call our technical support staff to confirm suitability for the printing process before submitting these formats.

Samco supports native files from QuarkXpress, Adobe InDesign, Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Acrobat, CorelDraw and more. (Call our technical support staff if you are unsure of your application). Almost any application can be used for digital printing, although in some cases it is necessary to create a high resolution PDF file (full technical support is available to help you). Because some applications do not support colour separation, offset printing presents some obstacles to programs not designed for graphic reproduction. Some programs such as Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word, Microsoft Powerpoint and CorelDraw behave inconsistently in a graphic reproduction environment and therefore may be subject to additional file handling surcharges.

Yes, Samco supports PDF files. To ensure your files are reproduced at the highest quality possible from the output device, please check your PDF settings for resolution, compression, colour space etc. Check with our technical support staff for more details or download a PDF preset definitions Job Options file here.

Sending a properly setup PDF file for your print job generally eliminates problems with missing fonts and graphics and unsupported applications or platforms. This is the preferred file format to send your jobs to Samco Printers. Most modern applications will allow you to export directly to a "Press Quality" or "High Quality Print" PDF file (or download and install this PDF preset definitions Job Options file). If your job has bleeds, please save it with bleeds and crop marks.

Samco supports both platforms, as well as PDF files.

If you have a small file (less than 5MB), attaching it to an email is probably the fastest and most convenient way. For larger files, you can save time and money by uploading your files directly from the "File Upload" section of this website. If you have a FTP client, you can also use that to send us a file by FTP. Call us for your login and password. For extremely large files, you can use an online service like DropBox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, WeTransfer, Hightail, Box, etc.

Samco also supports a wide variety of traditional data carriers such as CDs, DVDs and USB Drives.

Please include a hardcopy of your job (colour separated prints as well as a composite print with multicolour jobs). If you have not converted fonts to outlines or curves, include the fonts as well. If the graphics are linked (preferred) and not embedded in the page layout program, be sure to include the graphics as well.

The thickness of paper is usually measured by the weight. (The weight of a type of paper is determined by the weight of a ream (500 sheets) of the parent-sized sheet of that type of paper. Bonds, offset or book papers and cover stocks all have different sized parent sheets, so their weights are specific to their types). All this can be confusing to the lay person, but here are some practical hints: Bonds are commonly used for copying and economy print jobs. The most economical and lightest bond commonly used is 20 lb, with 24 lb and 32 lb. bond being heavier. The offset, or book, papers have a finish designed specifically for offset printing with the most common being 60 lb. (similar to 24 lb. bond) with 70 lb. and 80 lb. being the most common heavier grades used. Coated book stocks have a clay coating that can be gloss or matte and are designed to be used in high end spot and process colour printing. Cover stock is much heavier and stiffer than either bond or book stock. The most common grades of cover stock are 80, 90, 100 and 120 lb. Cover stock can also be uncoated, matte coated or gloss coated either coated on one or two sides. These covers are often measured by actual thickness or calliper and are referred to in points (10 points = 0.010" thick). The point thickness roughly corresponds to the weight, i.e., 12 pt is often 120 lb.

Do you have a question that we have not answered here? Give us a call at 604.683.6991 for immediate assistance or contact our Technical Support staff. You can also reach out to us on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.