double-sided printing

Hello! I am printing two color, two-sided business cards and having a tough time getting all the print aligned properly from side to side. I was trying to save on my cutting time and the amount of paper I used by leaving a half inch margin around the card on two sides to make space for guide pins. I ended up (once I figured out what I had done!) reversing my whole process from right feeding to left in order to make up for my mis-figuring. Still didn’t work. I scrapped those and am starting from scratch. Can anyone please give me some pointers for cutting and registering two-sided business cards? Thank you!

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Unless you are printing oversize to allow for a cut to get a full bleed, it is usually best to print the stock in the actual finished size. You found it hard to do oversize and cut. You could also print work and turn printing two fronts on one side head to head or tail to tail. Then print the two backs on the other side in the same manner.
I assume you are printing with a poly plate. Your business card should have a 1/4” margin on all sides unless it is to have a bleed or a special graphic that goes out to near the paper edge. If you cut your plate square and with a 3/32” margin outside of the printing surface and place the plate tight down on the edges of the base on the two gauge pin sides, you should have an easy time. Just make sure you check your gauge pin clearance very carefully before you print.

Thank you for responding! Yes, I’m using photopolymer on this card. So, I’ll leave a .25 margin for gauge pins on all sides and I will cut the paper square, but I didn’t understand what you meant by 3/32” margin. I will put the poly tight down at the edge of the base on the two gauge pin sides. Please give a little further explanation.

Thank you!

I think that the 3/32” margin was to keep you from cutting RIGHT to the printed area and then putting that printed area RIGHT on the edge of your base.

Whenever possible we cut our stock down to fit four-up. We then position the plate, type, or block to print square in the corner closest to the center of the platen (away from the gauge pins). We just run the stack through the press four times, rotating it accordingly each time without ever having to reposition the plate, type, or block. An additional benefit to this process is that it takes away the need for additional margins to keep the gauge pins off of the base (or type and blocks for that matter) while still allowing us to print close and square to one corner and two sides—reducing the number of finishing cuts.

No matter how many colors, with or without bleeding edges, we always use registration/crop marks in each corner when using photopolymer, so in these cases our number of finishing cuts isn’t reduced, but we still follow the same process anyway.

This all sounds a lot more confusing after reading back over it…hopefully something understandable came out.