Cracked ink is just one of the many map folding complications that can sabotage an otherwise stellar project. Fortunately, many of these complications can be easily avoided with a bit of information and pre-planning.
How Can You Avoid Map Folding Issues?
Be Careful with Coated Stocks
With coated stocks, seek out a substrate with a surface possessing a tight bond to the fibrous body. Imagine the coating as a thin sheet of clay… Then imagine folding it. If the paper surface pulls away from the body of the sheet, the potential for cracking increases. If you’re looking for a smooth surface, you’re not stuck with coated stocks. Today’s uncoated paper technology is amazingly smooth – and decreases the likelihood of cracks.
Watch Out with Recycled Papers
Though there are many fold-compatible options out there, you’ll want to look for those that haven’t been recycled multiple times. Why? The more paper is recycled, the shorter fibers become, increasing the tendency for cracking. The closer substrate is to virgin stock, the longer and more flexible the fibers.
Choose Thicker Paper
Though the ability of paper thickness to avoid cracking is relative to final finished size, as a general rule thicker paper offers greater elasticity for accommodating folds, with thinner papers cracking more easily. The larger surface area provides a more gradual fold, resisting cracking as compared to the sharp folds achieved with thinner substrates. Eighty-pound cover stock and below typically accommodates map folds well, but for larger maps and complicated fold patterns, thicker substrates may be too heavy. Because every project is unique, we urge you to contact a MapPrinter expert in advance to discuss the many variables of your finished project and determine the best substrate (folding, and finishing) options in advance.
Fold with the Grain
Though we understand with some maps folds this is not possible, folding with the grain of the paper, with fibers running parallel to the folded edge, reduces the tendency for ink cracking.
Minimize Cracking with Scoring
A good choice for substrates .006 or thicker, scoring sheets prior to folding stretches paper fibers longer, minimizing cracking. Varying the width of the score rule and channel likewise improves the potential for a clean fold.
Applying lamination film encapsulates the paper and prevents cracking.
Don’t Overdo it with Ink
The more layers of ink, coatings, or varnishes layered on your printed map, the thicker and more prone to cracking its surface will be.
Choose Colors Wisely
The lighter the colors, the less any cracking will show. While bold, dark colors can be great to grab a customer’s attention, darker shades show cracks more easily along folds. Though these may earn you that first purchase, if your map shows excess wear due to cracking, this may dissuade follow-up patronage.
Be Mindful of What You Print on the Fold
The more folds, the more difficult it becomes for the precise centering of information, and the greater the likelihood of text or imagery getting lost among folds. Information printed in the folds or gutter should be avoided when possible, or carefully weighed. Here, pre-design consultation with a MapPrinter expert is essential and a folded ‘dummy’ or mock-up your friend, helping bring to life issues you may have otherwise missed – such as misplaced panels and difficulties with centering information properly with folds.
Struggling with how you want to see your map folded? Don’t reinvent the wheel. Find a faster path to project success with the expert advice of MapPrinter today.