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  • 4/4 Postcards Arriving Damaged

    We recently have acquired a project because of problems with their existing printer. The main problem is that a large number of their pieces are arriving damaged. The cards go presort standard, across several states. The damage our customer showed us looks to me like friction from a roller from the mail sort machine...like the postcard is getting stuck in the machine and its spinning its roller on the print, creating heat which distorts the toner.

    You know as well as I do that junk mail ends up in the trash within a few seconds and we can't control what happens at USPS. But we have the opportunity to try to solve this problem, so that's why I'm asking for suggestions.

    We have done a few of these mailings over the last couple weeks and the results have come back...that we, and another printer (who they are also auditioning for the job), also have the same problems when we mail out the cards. Disappointing but not really surprising...we didn't expect the problem to be at the printer level based on its appearance.

    The card is printed on 270gsm 12pt C2S, on a Xerox J75. No idea what the other printers are using, but they should be using the same weight stock. Cuts to 8.5x5.5 so basically counts as a letter. We dropped it at a post office in the middle of the country, they dropped it on the coast. List goes to several different states ultimately. So not specific to one post office. Card is not UV coated, but we may try mailing a few out UV coated to see if it makes a difference. I suspect that maybe the stock is a little thick for the mail sort machine and its threshold isn't opening enough. The J75 uses a low melt toner so I could see how it could melt with friction.

    This is by far not our first post card mailing but honestly can't say that anyone has ever come back to complain about what the product looks like once it has been through the mail. Though offhand don't remember when the last time someone has requested to use 12pt C2S for their postcard.
    Last edited by ksherrod; 04-16-2018, 04:35 PM.

  • #2
    I don't have a ton of mail experience but I believe UV coating the cards will solve the issue.

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    • #3
      We went through this with a customer a while ago. You are right that it is belt burn because they overtighten things instead of maintaining things like they should. Bottom line is there really isn't a good answer. The post office can destroy just about anything. There is even a document from the post office that shows to expect this. We did lots of testing: Digital vs offset, aqueous vs UV coating, double UV coating, different machines with different toner. We ended up adding UV coating to help. It does help a decent amount but by far does not solve the problem. The other thing that helps is getting it to go through as few post office sorters as possible. Dropship if you can. One thing we did find is the seeds back to the customer were always the worst because they were in a different area from the majority of the mailing so they always ended up in a mixed sort tray which goes through more sorters. It also tends to happen mostly in the same spots on the piece so you can design around it a bit. If you really want to solve the problem you need to go with film lamination. Our customer finally understood how abusive the post office is and opted that UV coating was good enough and they didn't want to spend the money on lamination. I really wish we could get our hands on a video of how things work at a postal sort facility. I've heard of some printers getting tours with the customers and when done the customer understands that paper can't take that abuse.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by jrsc View Post
        We went through this with a customer a while ago. You are right that it is belt burn because they overtighten things instead of maintaining things like they should. Bottom line is there really isn't a good answer. The post office can destroy just about anything. There is even a document from the post office that shows to expect this. We did lots of testing: Digital vs offset, aqueous vs UV coating, double UV coating, different machines with different toner. We ended up adding UV coating to help. It does help a decent amount but by far does not solve the problem. The other thing that helps is getting it to go through as few post office sorters as possible. Dropship if you can. One thing we did find is the seeds back to the customer were always the worst because they were in a different area from the majority of the mailing so they always ended up in a mixed sort tray which goes through more sorters. It also tends to happen mostly in the same spots on the piece so you can design around it a bit. If you really want to solve the problem you need to go with film lamination. Our customer finally understood how abusive the post office is and opted that UV coating was good enough and they didn't want to spend the money on lamination. I really wish we could get our hands on a video of how things work at a postal sort facility. I've heard of some printers getting tours with the customers and when done the customer understands that paper can't take that abuse.
        Interesting insight about the seeds getting abused more than the regular pieces...never thought about that. Perhaps that is the problem entirely, just focusing too much on the seeds. You are right the damage always seems to be more or less in the same area. This card was designed (by someone else) real heavy coverage so they would really need to start over I think to get around it...

        I can't see them going for lamination but perhaps UV coating is the way to go.

        I'm going to see if I can't track down that postal expectations document..

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        • #5
          I like to show customers this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX16-52bHvg

          It helps them understand mail is not done by hand, and I can usually show them how the burn marks line up to the belts on the machines. I offer to put the card into a clear envelope if they want it to arrive with no burn marks.
          (2) Ricoh Pro 7110SX digital printers
          OKI C931e with Straight Shooter Envelope feeder

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Shawnd View Post
            I like to show customers this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX16-52bHvg

            It helps them understand mail is not done by hand, and I can usually show them how the burn marks line up to the belts on the machines. I offer to put the card into a clear envelope if they want it to arrive with no burn marks.
            That is excellent Shawn, especially in the 3:00 to 4:00 range. My boss asked about this one time at our local post office and they allowed him to see some of the sorting equipment and he also described it where one particular postcard would be in contact with one of the spinning wheels in the sorting machine longer than others. The ones that went by quickly had no damage but the ones that had to sit there for a few seconds always ended up with that burn mark. On 8 1/2 x 5 1/2 it's always in about the same area. And of course what has already been mentioned, if you have any control over the design, leave that area clear. By default we run all of our post cards through my Morgana Digi-Coater (either gloss or satin) which definitely does help but doesn't eliminate the problem.
            Tom M Ricoh ProC9100

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Shawnd View Post
              I like to show customers this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX16-52bHvg

              It helps them understand mail is not done by hand, and I can usually show them how the burn marks line up to the belts on the machines. I offer to put the card into a clear envelope if they want it to arrive with no burn marks.
              Thanks for sharing, that's a good one.

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              • #8
                It seems like this goes in cycles, now I am the one getting calls about belt burn. Guessing someone retired from the local sort facility and now the sorter is being manned by temp workers. This issue comes and goes every couple years. I have the customer send me scans of the card and I forward it on to my BSN rep and she will send it to the sort facility manager, sometimes the issue gets fixed.
                (2) Ricoh Pro 7110SX digital printers
                OKI C931e with Straight Shooter Envelope feeder

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