Business Card Layouts

What’s your preferred method of printing business cards?

I’m considering using 8.5 x 11 stock (I’ll be using photopolymer plates and a Vandercook press). Do you prefer to print 10 to a sheet (with the cards horizontal) or 12 to a sheet (with the cards vertical)?

From what I’ve experienced, many printers print business cards one at a time, but on a C & P floor model. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems getting the correct alignment of each of those small pieces on the Vandercook cylinder would likely be maddening. Then again, there are a lot of cuts to make in separating the cards…

Thanks so much!

Also, please see my terribly long “6000 cards in 12 weeks on a Vandercook” post if you have any experience in printing large quantities of greeting cards. I’d love your expertise!

(I’m going to start several threads today because I’ve got several questions that are different topics. I’ve spent a lot of time on the message boards, and have found some incredibly helpful information. My apologies if something’s already been covered… I either didn’t find it, or in the case of prices, etc. it wasn’t current enough for my needs.)

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If the cost of the plate is now an issue then I would do them 10-up on a sheet if there are no bleed images. If there is bleed then 8-up. The layout should be centered on the page with no gutter. This makes cutting easy. First cut at 10.5” to cut bottom waste. Next cut turn stack 90 and cut right hand waste 7.75” then the second cut at 4.25” marry the two stacks and cut 3.5”. Then set the blade to 4” and make one cut, feed stack again at 4” now marry all 3 stack and cut to 2”. If the run is for only 100 cards perhaps I would just do 4 up on 5.5 X 8.5 more sheets but cutting 10 sheets can be a challenge.

I’ve only done 8-up an 8.5x11 on a vandercook. With space between cards, for bleed and/or so you can trim on all 4 sides of the card, and with the lost space near the grippers, that seemed like what would fit.

I always leave 1/4” between cards so the cuts are clean. On Lettra or full cotton stock, the cut that’s on the outer portion of the blade tends to be rougher.

I print cards 4-up on my Vandercook. I’ve tried 6 up before but couldn’t manage very tight registration that was essential. Four or 3-up and I didn’t have a problem. You have to remember the paper can stretch a little every time you run it around the cylinder.

Jonsel, very good point on the Lettra… I’ll experiment with how neatly I can cut my stock before I decide on a layout, because cutting down the middle once as Colophon press suggests would simply things. What size sheet do you print on 4-up? 8.5 x 11 seems pretty big for that (but maybe I’m just not picturing the layout right).

Also, I forgot to mention that I’ll be cutting on early 1900’s guillotine… so not power and I’ll probably stick to rather small stacks. It’ll be a run of 300 or so (doing them for myself.) I’m a little concerned about not getting clean cuts (the blade is dull at the moment but there are plans to replace it soon… it gets a lot of use though so may be dull again quickly.) Thanks Colophon, for the detailed breakdown of the cuts, that’s really helpful.

I could also get them cut after I print them at the local paper store, but that may be kind of nerve-wracking after all the print work. Has any one had experience with having someone else cut business cards? I realize the quality of the cutting largely depends on the paper shop itself… but they do have better equipment than I do.

Also, it’d be $20 to get them cut at the print shop… kind of a small batch to pay that much, but it is a lot of cuts.

Generally I wouldn’t cut once down the middle because on guillotine cutters, only the cut on the back of the blade is clean. You have to cut all 4 sides to have it look nice.

If you do 4-up you can print, then flip the paper around and print again, so you get 8 per sheet but are only worrying about 4 at a time.

I cut my sheets down to run them 4-up. I also use an early century non-powered guillotine. My blade is fairly sharp, though. Cotton papers like Lettra need a pretty sharp blade so they don’t tear. And definitely use short stacks. The pressure from the clamp easily marks the first few sheets if you’re not careful. I always put 3-4 pieces of chipboard on top to protect the prints.