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Printing Terminology


Gluing a card to a carrier or holder with permanent, removable or repositionable glue.


A specific calculation used to create a unique ID number on a card.


Refers to the printing that goes beyond the borders of a piece and is trimmed off. The normal extension is 0.125 inches beyond the border to allow for accurate trimming. It’s important to review for accuracy if bleeds are on all four sides of a printed piece and on the front and back of a card.


Description of paper that is glossy, i.e., has a coating applied in the manufacturing process.


Process of applying a coating to a card or printed piece while it is on the press. Aqueous and UV are different types of coatings that can be applied on press in gloss or dull finishes. Coatings are not applied to laminated cards.


A measure of the strength of a magnetic field on a card’s magnetic stripe. Fields are expressed as either low coercivity (LoCo) or high coercivity (HiCo).


Describes the amount of ink coverage on a printed piece.


A term for the industry standard credit card size of 2.125 inches high by 3.375 inches wide

Digital Dylux

See “Proofs”


Drop on Demand. High-speed inkjet imaging with XXX DPI that has black ink dried with UV lights. Can be used on laminated and non-laminated cards.


Dots per inch.


A manual test of a specific ink on a specific substrate.


Describes characters in relief on the front surface of a card. It can be done in various colors. Sizes and typestyles are limited.


Recording electronic information onto a magnetic stripe.

Four-Color Process (4-Color Process)

The printing process that uses mixtures of four colors – cyan, magenta, yellow and black – to create any color and apply it to a substrate.


Brand name of equipment used to affix a card to a carrier using glue.


See “Coercivity"

Hot Stamp

Process of using heat and pressure to apply a foil to a card.

How to Upload

An electronic file that contains the design for a printed piece. For StoneHouse, the file needs to be created on a Macintosh computer so it is compatible with our printers.


Refers to the application of variable data to the surface of pre-printed plastic cards.

Inkjet Imaging

High-speed imaging with XXX DPI that has black ink applied with solvent-based materials. This is the lowest-cost printing option.

Kodak Approval

See “Proof”

Laminated Film

Traditionally a thin clear film that is applied to the top and bottom of printed sheets to protect the cards and allow for thermal imaging.


Printed sheets are pressed between two layers of laminating film using heat and pressure to bond the laminate's adhesive to the surface of the sheets.


See “Coercivity”


Refers to the thickness of a card. Standard card thickness is 30 mil. 1 mil = 1/1000th of an inch.


Polylactide material. A plant-based substrate that goes under several brand names. It must be laminated to stabilize the material.


Punching Machine Corporation. The company that makes hollow die punching machines used to punch out cards. Dies are inexpensive compared to traditional card punching machines. However, they do not hold a tight register, so we do not recommend them for cards with mags.

Press Polish

Process for applying hydraulic lamination without using laminate films. It is usually used on single-core cards.


Points. The measurement of board stock thickness.


Process of removing a card in shape from a full-size press sheet.


Polyvinyl chloride (PVC), traditional vinyl. A synthetic plastic polymer commonly used for making cards that has plasticizers added to it to make the cards more flexible.

Resolution (res)

The degree of sharpness in a printed piece as measured by the number of dots per linear inch. Low-res files generally do not reproduce well. Art files should always contain high-res images.

Response Rate

A measure of the number of people who respond to a call to action on a marketing piece or message. Direct mail typically achieves a 3.7 percent response rate when an in-house (member) list is used, and a 1.0 percent response rate with a prospect list. Response rates are 0.2 percent for mobile, 0.1 percent for email, 0.1 percent for social media, 0.1 percent for a paid search, and 0.02 percent for display advertising.


The process of trimming off excess laminate from each press sheets for post-laminate operations.

Signature Panel

A panel on a card that can be written upon.

Silk Screening

A printing technique that uses a woven mesh to support an ink-blocking stencil. The stencil forms open areas for transferring ink or other printable materials, which are pressed through the mesh as a sharp-edged image onto a substrate.

Single Core

Card produced with only one piece of substrate.

Styrene (Vinyl Benzine)

Plastic-like substrate that is not as flexible as PVC.

Termal Imaging

The highest-quality imaging possible for cards. Thermal imaging is available in many colors. It is applied using thermal ribbon and can only be used on laminated cards. This is the slowest and most expensive process.


A waterproof synthetic paper manufactured by PPG Industries, Inc. It’s porous and flexible, so it allows for high-quality offset lithographic printing, laser variable imaging and lamination.


Ultraviolet. Refers to the printing process that uses UV lights to aid in the drying process.

Variable Data

Refers to information such as barcodes, account or membership numbers and contact information that is printed onto a card.


Refers to the quality achieved compared to true resolution.