8 Commonly Asked Questions About Pressure Seal and How to Answer Them
In the wake of the recession, companies made significant changes in the way they operate. Even today, the C-suite continues to give burnt-out employees their marching orders for growth. Topping those lists of best practices is efficiency. That is, streamline whenever appropriate—with limited manpower and funds.
For this reason, pressure seal forms and machines may be an attractive alternative for clients that typically produce and distribute large volumes of single-page documents—such as a form or a check—in envelopes. As Art Waganheim, vice president of operations for Davie, Florida-based Paitec USA, put it: “Why go to the expense of inserting that form in an envelope if it can be more easily processed as a single-page self-mailer?”
That’s a good starting point for your pitch, but it’s going to take a little more convincing to justify the cost of transitioning to pressure seal solutions. With economic turbulence comes a great deal of hesitation, and what seems too good to be true often is.
Your prospects are going to have questions, so you need answers. By communicating the right information to the right people, you, the trusted reseller, can exceed expectations and, more importantly, close the deal. To expedite your customers’ path to purchase, Print+Promo reached out to two leading experts in the pressure seal market: Waganheim, along with David Yost, general manager for Roanoke, Virginia-based InfoSeal. Check out their takes on commonly asked questions.
What is pressure seal and how does it work?
A pressure seal system consists of two components: a one-page, self-sealing document and a folder/sealer. Unlike other types of mailers that require heat or liquid for sealing, a pressure seal form is sealed when the form is folded in a pressure seal folder/sealer. Folding aligns patterns of cohesive, which are pre-applied to the document during manufacture. The folded form then passes through a series of sealing rollers. The rollers apply pressure to the form, which activates the cohesive, creating a seal. A cohesive differs from a standard adhesive in that it requires two patterns placed on top of each other to create the bond. Because the cohesive reacts only when it comes in contact with itself under very high pressure, the pressure from, say, a laser printer won’t have an effect.
What types of documents are suitable for pressure seal forms?
Single-page documents that leave sufficient space to print the recipient’s address. Traditional uses of pressure seal may include: paychecks, refund checks, event invitations, test results, invoices and statements, tax forms (W-2, 1099, etc.), jury notifications and grade reports.
According to Yost, pressure seal is now trending in new corporate verticals. “The need for pressure seal in tax forms, insurance, banking and health care continues to grow, but we are also seeing growth in more traditional direct mail,” he said. “Real estate, automotive/car dealerships and nonprofits are only a small portion of the direct mail arena seeing increased response rates through the use of pressure seal products. [Specifically,] we are seeing pressure seal being used ... in contests, gift and promotional cards, sweepstakes and game pieces.”
Yost elaborated on some of the direct mail applications that InfoSeal has been involved with over the past few years. “We have helped mailers succeed by creating unique products within the pressure seal form—scratch-off, integrated cards, window mailings.”
Why should I switch to pressure seal?
“The biggest challenge to overcome in converting a mailer to pressure seal is the change in process and understanding the cost savings and workflow efficiencies gained in the conversion,” Yost reiterated.
And, the efficiencies are plentiful, beginning with the obvious savings in material and production costs. “We are seeing tremendous growth in the conversion from envelope mail to pressure seal due to the cost savings in material and production costs to the customer,” Yost noted. “In addition to this, we are seeing substantial increases in the use of pressure seal double postcards due to the postage savings [versus] first-class mail, and click savings.”
Another product that has been performing well is InfoSeal’s 12" traditional pressure seal form. This particular form provides 15 percent paper savings compared to a 14" form, Yost explained, without compromising message area. “Feeding on the 12" side also saves production time and click costs,” he added.
Then, there are the labor savings—a talking point that Paitec USA’s most successful dealers have mastered. “Cost of labor plays a big part in the benefit of using pressure seal technology, meaning that if processing a pressure seal form takes less time and [fewer] materials than processing an inserted piece, there will be tangible economic advantages to pressure seal technology,” Waganheim said. “Most pressure seal machines process at a much faster speed than inserting machines, thus providing the edge to pressure seal technology.”
He went on to say that processing times are even faster if an inline pressure seal solution is used. For this reason, Paitec USA has seen an increased demand for these types of machines. “... Interest in automated inline processing continues to grow as operators want to eliminate manual handling of forms from the printers to the pressure seal machines, especially with high-volume applications,” Waganheim observed.
In response, last year the company introduced the GFI20, which interfaces with many popular brands of floor model copiers and printers, and boasts an inline speed up to 150 pages per minute. A new inline machine is set for release during the third quarter of 2017.
OK, but how do I know which machine is the one for me?
Daily volume is the No. 1 determinant here. Certain machines are better equipped for low-volume mailers processing fewer than 500 forms per day. Waganheim pointed to a small footprint desktop pressure seal machine with a 50 to 150 sheet feed table as an example. But, a tabletop pressure seal machine with a 500 to 700 sheet feed table with a conveyor is more suitable for clients processing several thousand forms per day, he said.
“The larger the typical daily volume, the more important processing speed, feed table capacity and advanced electronics become,” Waganheim continued. “For customers regularly running more than 7,500 forms per day, we would recommend a high-capacity, high-volume pressure seal machine with up to a 1,500-sheet feed table and with a vertical stacker exit device.”
What kind of maintenance upkeep am I looking at with these machines?
Regular preventive maintenance for this type of machinery is no worse than other printers. If clients neglect their equipment, however, process ink and laser toner will build up on a machine’s infeed and fold and seal rollers. This will cause the rollers to lose their grip, which increases the chances of misfeeds and jams, Waganheim said. He recommended users clean their infeed and fold and seal rollers once a week.
“We designed several of our machines with reverse friction feed rollers that spin against each other to properly separate and feed the forms,” Waganheim mentioned. “As long as those rollers are kept clean or not worn down, customers will not have double or misfeeds. And, as long as the fold and seal rollers are properly kept clean, customers should have infrequent form jams.”
Distributors would be doing their customers a big disservice if they didn’t discuss the importance of a maintenance program. “A proper maintenance program takes equipment out of production for a few hours,” Yost said. “Equipment that is not properly maintained can result in days of downtime and significant delays in mailings.”
To provide perspective on the time investment, high-volume printers and copiers are usually serviced monthly, whereas a folder/sealer usually requires scheduled maintenance once or twice a year, Yost said.
What does a service contract look like from a numbers standpoint?
“Annual service contracts, which typically include several preventive cleanings per year, usually cost 10 percent to 15 percent of the sales price of a machine compared to a typical fee-for-service visit being billed at up to $150 per hour, plus the cost of any non-consumable parts,” Waganheim shared.
Are there problem areas with the forms themselves?
Waganheim advised paying special attention to the perforations on each form and the dry cohesive glue because they have a direct impact on how well forms fold and seal in the pressure seal machine.
“We have, unfortunately, seen many cases in which the fold perforations are either not properly punched into the form, or they are not consistently punched across the perforation line,” he said. “We have even seen forms where the fold perforations were the same tooth size as the nearby tear-off perforation line, causing both lines to buckle and fold at the same time, which, of course, causes issues with the quality of the folded document.
“With regard to the dry cohesive glue marks, we have seen forms where the glue was more tacky than dry, causing forms to stick together, and other forms where the glue was misapplied and did not line up with its opposite panel to form a bond when folded,” Waganheim added.
It also helps to know the type of printer being used. “Whether using our stock or custom forms, we can offer the correct product based on the printer being utilized,” Yost mentioned.
Why should I trust you to handle my pressure seal needs?
This is where teaming up with a knowledgeable supplier will serve you well. InfoSeal supports its distributor partners through a unique regional sales manager (RSM) model, where pressure seal product experts serve as extra support in the sales cycle.
“RSMs are an extension of the distributors’ own sales team, with in-depth product knowledge,” Yost said. “Product experts will support [distributors] with joint sales calls, marketing materials, form and graphic design, cost-benefit analysis of conversions, samples, test runs and whatever else they need to help the end-user.”
Oftentimes, this means InfoSeal is involved in a project from start to finish. Yost recalled a particular case with a national mailer in need of a complete production review (i.e., equipment, service agreements and workflow). What stood out to Yost was the customer’s full access to InfoSeal’s services and knowledge. Because of the close-working relationship throughout the supply chain, the mailer benefited from increasing savings.
“As we completed the evaluation, the customer had equipment that better suited their volume, and they were able to consolidate seven mail centers to four with improved cycle times, reduced material and inventory costs, reduced click charges and reduced labor costs,” Yost said.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.