Cracking is the technical term used when the paper fibre is exposed through the ink, on a fold or spine. It’s often a devastating blow to a beautifully designed brochure or publication and what’s worse, it can be avoided.
1. AVOID DARK SOLID INK COVERAGE ON A FOLD OR SPINE.
Because cracking is more obvious when solid, and usually dark ink is printed over the fold, the easiest method is avoidance, and of course, it doesn’t cost a cent. Cracking is less noticeable with lighter colours or images as the contrast between the white paper fibres and the ink is less obvious.
2. FOLD WITH THE GRAIN OF THE PAPER.
This is probably the responsibility of the printer, and we do try to accommodate where we can, but most jobs are quoted without the hindsight of seeing the artwork. In a competitive market, we also face the issue of cost. Change the production method or grain direction. If you have any doubts, we encourage you to supply a draft of the artwork when sourcing quotes..
3. SCORE THE PAPER BEFORE FOLDING.
Will this eliminate cracking altogether, unfortunately not, but it will help, especially with papers over 170gsm in weight. As a minimum, Printcraft scores all covers or brochures on paper weights 170gsm and above.
4. PAPER STOCK
This is more important than you think. It’s the clay surface of paper that cracks and exposes the fibres, so uncoated paper (think your average sheet of photocopy paper) shouldn’t crack. You’ll still need to score any covers before folding, buy you’ll notice the difference between the spine of a gloss paper to one on an uncoated paper.
5. ADD A LAMINATE
For covers anyway, this is the only 100% effective way to stop cracking on a spine. A laminate is a thin film of plastic that seals the paper and stops the fibres from splitting. Please note, a varnish, different from a laminate, will have no benefit. A varnish is a liquid coating where a laminate is a plastic film.