There are so many modern printing techniques to choose from, so why would you go for the old letterpress printing method which has been used since Caxton first set up his press in the fifteenth century? This traditional method involves metal type and plates, which are inked and then pressed into soft paper or card stock and has hardly changed in centuries.
One reason that letterpress printing is enjoying a revival today, and is popular for printing everything from business cards to wedding invitations, is that it has a tactile, hand-crafted quality. The printing is indented into the paper by the metal type, leaving an impression that adds an extra dimension to your card, a refreshing change to the smoothness and slickness of digital printing methods.
Don’t think that you need to stick with old-fashioned designs to use Letterpress though. Nowadays printers no longer pick out individual lead letters as the old typesetters once did. Images and text are converted to sturdy polymer plates which are inked and pressed in the same way, but hold up better to heavy use and hard impression than the softer lead types and plates ever did. Your designs can be thoroughly modern or nostalgically retro, the method works equally well for either.
Nowadays most customers expect quite a deep impression when they ask for Letterpress printing. This does mean that you will get a reverse indentation in the other side of your card, so that two-sided business cards may not be possible. However there are ways to have the best of both worlds. Using much thicker card stock such as 500 or 600 gram quality card, reduces the amount that the reverse side is affected. Another option is two mount two sheets together so that each side can be printed independently and then mounted invisibly together to make one card.
The depth of the impression created when printing with Letterpress can be controlled. In the old days expert printers aimed to leave almost no impression at all: it was considered a mark of the printer’s skill to have as smooth a result as possible. Now there seems little point to that and the impression is what makes Letterpress so attractive, but you can request a deep or a light impression according to preferences.
The success of Letterpress printing does depend on the skill of the printer as it is almost an artisan printing method, so choose your printer carefully, asking to see samples of their work. With the right design and the right printer you can achieve some memorable business cards that really will make a great impression.