You may have heard of the term “movement tolerance” and be wondering what exactly this means.

Within the printing process, both the print and the paper have the potential to shift slightly from their original positions. Factors such as temperature, humidity and paper type can all lead to the movement of the print. This ability for the print to move is measured to provide a tolerance.

For reference, our print tolerance is up to 1mm from the original file positions. Of course, print does not always move this much. In fact, most print movement is incredibly small and unnoticeable. There are, however, occasions where print movement is much more likely to occur.

Side-by-side comparison of three prints showing movement of print

How to combat the appearance of print movement?

Although we cannot prevent print from moving, we can make small adjustments to your designs to help combat the appearance of potential movement.

Safe Zone

When supplying your files for print we always advise that important elements to your design, such as text and images, are at least 3mm away from each edge. Positioning your designs away from the edges helps to prevent print from landing too close to the cutline and subsequently being cut off by the guillotine.

If you are unsure as to how to position your artwork within a safe margin, our team can supply you with a template with the safe margin and bleed area indicated.

Duplexed and Triple Thick Paper

There are some paper types that are more likely to experience print movement than others. Our double thick and colour core paper types are the most likely to experience movement, as the production process involving these paper types has an additional step. The more steps, the more chances for movement!

To help reduce the effects of print movement on our thicker papers, we advise that important elements of your designs are positioned at least 4mm from each edge. Designs that fall close to the edge have the potential to shift closer towards the edge and are more likely to be cut off. Moving your artwork inwards, reduces the chance of this happening.

Borders

The number one element of a design that will be affected by print movement is a border. Borders tend to be positioned in the centre of a design with an equal distance between the border and the edge of the page. When the print shifts, the distance between the border and the edge of the paper can vary along each edge, making the border appear unequal.

To combat this, we recommend bringing any borders in to be at least 4mm away from each edge. The further a border is from the edge, the less of an affect any print movement will have on the appearance.

When it comes to our thicker paper, we recommend for designs to only have a border on one side. As print movement is more likely on this paper type, the chances of borders on both sides being perfectly aligned to each other is incredibly slim. Removing a border from one side prevents an obvious misalignment.

Side-by-side comparison of designs with borders at different distances from the edge

Playing Cards

When it comes to printing playing cards, we require a larger margin of 5mm. Unlike other printed products, such as business cards, playing cards are kept together as a set. Within each playing card deck, there is potential for the print of each card to move in a different direction to the next. Once put together, this print movement will become more obvious as each card will have a slight difference.

By bringing your designs to 5mm, any differences caused by print movement will become much less noticeable so that your playing card decks remain uniform.


Still unsure?

Don’t worry, we understand that for those who are not too familiar with print, the concept of print movement may be difficult to understand. Our team are here to answer any questions that you may have with your designs and print movement. Before placing your order, you can submit your artwork to be checked by our experienced pre-press team who can provide feedback on whether they believe your design may be affected by movement.