Best way to print our own letterhead?
June 5, 2014 7:03 AM   Subscribe

I work for a company that has many sub-companies (an LLC for each project, that sort of thing). We are re-designing our logo and need to reprint all of our letterhead. We have some that we use frequently, which I will be ordering from a commercial printer. We have others however that are used very infrequently (think 5-10 sheets a year or less). How can I best print our own letterhead for those very short runs?

For the rarely used category, I would normally just print the letterhead myself by just adding it to the document and printing the document all at once. I work with many people who would not be capable of doing that on their computers however, even with templates, or pre-formatted word documents. I need to have pre-printed letterhead available for them. I tried some tests on our laser printer and copier, printing only the logo and address first and running it through a second time for the rest of the document. As I expected, when I run the page through the second time on a laser printer the toner from the first printing gets picked up and redeposited elsewhere on the page.

Is there a particular style or model of printer I could buy that would allow me to print the letterhead so that it could be run through an office laser printer later? I suspect an ink-jet printer would work but I want to avoid the "look" of inkjet printed letterhead, but maybe there have been advances since I last printed on one. Any other ideas?
posted by brbmaroon to Technology (5 answers total)
Try a couple of sheets of kinko's color laser printing. I've used office laser printers many times to run it through twice without the transfer problem you describe. Issue may be with your laser printer, or the paper, try a premium laser paper.
posted by Sophont at 7:11 AM on June 5, 2014

Whether inket-printed material has a particular 'look' depends a lot on the quality of the paper. A good paper with little or no bleed will give you perfectly acceptable results, although if the envelope gets wet, the ink will run.
posted by pipeski at 7:18 AM on June 5, 2014

Get a better quality paper and avoid using cheap toner for the first pass.

An alternative is to use forms-printing software. There's some commercially available but I don't recall what it is since the stuff I've seen runs on Windows. So I hacked up something for local use.

We replaced all the printers here with a few HP Color CP2025's several years ago, and one of the printers has been twiddled to allow special forms printing. Basically we send a plain PostScript job to the print server, which merges it with a PDF form template and blats it out to the printer, giving beautiful forms and letterhead capabilities. In color.

For the technically oriented hacker who does not fear HP PJL, PostScript, PDF, and GhostScript, this isn't too hard at all.

In our case for Windows boxes we use the Generic Color PS for Commercial Printing driver, which is configured to send to the print server, where it's taken into a script to run "ps2pdf", which is run into "pdftk - background xxx", which is then piped into gs before being resubmitted as a new print job 'cuz, you know, that's sufficient and I'm so lazy.
posted by jgreco at 8:09 AM on June 5, 2014 [1 favorite]

Or just thinking about the copier/laser second pass thing, it seems to me that whichever device you made the first pass on is having problems with its fuser. Normally toner doesn't come off paper easily assuming that the whole process works as designed. Check to see if you can tell your device that you're using a thicker stock for the first pass, which may tease it into running the fuser at a higher temperature (probably only applies to business-grade devices though).
posted by jgreco at 8:19 AM on June 5, 2014

I think it's the fuser that's killing your second run through. AFAIK, you just can't run through a laser printer twice.

Your first run through needs to be ink, not toner. If you were doing more than 5-10 per year, I'd recommend, but their min. letterhead is 100 qty. Still not bad, but a bit overkill. Along with Sophont's advice, I'd recommend you call your local Kinko's and see if they have a recommendation for short-run ink printing (not toner-based), unless you know your clients will all use inkjet.

... are you sure you can't set up a Word letterhead with your letterhead image in the background - not editable, that they can just type over, and have it all print at once? Or maybe even make a pdf form that's just one big text box/form field with an un-editable image/background?
posted by hydra77 at 10:32 PM on June 5, 2014

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