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Alan Pickles

Al’s blog


End of the summer

September 2016

Here we are in late summer with DRUPA now a distant memory and the next big UK event being the Print Show in October. I can only repeat what I said last year that I hope that the Print Industry and Media will support this show whole heartedly and not ignore the fact that this is a major event for our industry.

Good luck to all the exhibitors at the Print Show.

Those of you who receive our email newsletter will know that Clinical have another Z fold card line in production with another line being built in our in-house engineering facility. These lines will give us even more capacity so we will be able to offer  shorter lead times on Z fold cards.

These products are proving even more popular these days with our customers and remain a very effective way of communication with a vast range of potential applications - check out the Z fold card section of the website for ideas and recommendations

The football season is upon us again, and with the unexpected and fantastic success of our team Leicester City last season, we have lower expectations this season and again 40 points and remaining in the Premier League will be our target. We will, of course, enjoy our Champions League games so wish us luck.

And for those football fans out there we will be running another competition later in the season with a pair of tickets for a Premier League game as the prize.

Enjoy the last days of summer!

Wieviel ist das Pfund Sterling wird ?

April 2016 

We are off to Drupa again at the end of May. Where did the last four years go? This years event looks to be very promising and could well beat the 2012 attendance of 314,000 visitors!

Not only is Drupa the trade fair to see latest developments, it is also a confidence barometer for the entire print media industry. The level of interest and the amount of sales at the event will be a very good indicator of what the next few years will bring for the industry.

We always attend Drupa to see if there are any new print finishing innovations that would compliment our existing equipment or add to our services.

What I find slightly odd is that the machinery manufacturers appear to spend months, if not years, developing one or two machines for Drupa that are absolutely fantastic. They are brilliantly designed and engineered and would not look out of place at NASA’s development facility. The question I always ask myself is how many customers are there who have suitable work for these machines, and who can actually afford them?

Okay, I don’t want to see row upon row of generic looking laminators, but would prefer to see some more traditional equipment, with innovations, as well as the space age technology.

Fortunately, we always stumble across something that piques our interest and we will invest if we see the benefits to us and our customers. I’m always interested in hearing if there are areas in which our customers would like us to invest in, please feel free to drop me a line at


‘Hats off’ to The Print Show!

November 2015

The recent Print Show at the NEC seems to have been successful with a healthy number of visitors and a very positive response from the exhibitors. Print Monthly magazine have done a fantastic job in helping to get it up and running.

In my view, the print industry needs to get behind events like this, not only by visiting, but also by being involved in the promotion. This way the show can grow and those of us who choose to get involved next year may be able to influence its evolution.

A smaller UK print specific show like this, in a sensible centralised venue such as the NEC, was badly needed by our industry after the recent recession and the disappointment of the last IPEX.

I genuinely hope the exhibitors get the return on investment for the show and I also hope that the return of IPEX to the NEC does not hinder the progression of the Print Show.

The recent announcement that IPEX is moving back to the NEC in 2017 is good news for all of us in the industry, even though the Excel has many positive attributes, I think the general consensus is that the NEC is the best place for IPEX.

In an ideal world these two shows would complement and promote each other but that could only happen effectively with the full backing of our industry.

So ‘hats off’ to the Print Show and good luck for the future.


Engage your customers with a Z folded card!

October 2015

This month’s Clinical newsletter focuses on Z fold cards, in my opinion these are one of the most innovative forms of compact media ever produced, and Z fold cards are still as popular as ever. They are a handy pocket size, contain a lot of information and have a high retention value.

We have now produced many millions of these Z fold cards for a huge range of campaigns and applications, and we have three Z binding lines in production.

Some customers I talk to are a little nervous about producing Z fold cards even though they have potential customers for them. It’s usually because they have not printed them before and it is a slightly different to standard A4/A5 fare.

No need to worry, we are here to help with the planning and will give the working sheet size and gutters we require. We will also recommend the best materials and paper weights to use. We have recommendations and standard specifications within the Z fold card section of our website.

There is a massive range of potential uses for these cards, and I will give you some recent examples of the areas we have produced Z fold cards for below:


Local Government – Guide to Council Advisory Service

Tourist Information – Local Accommodation Map

NHS – Guide to Alcohol Limits

University – Campus Map for new students

Football Club - Fixtures Guide

NEC Trade Show - Exhibitor Location Map

Food and Drink – Guide to Bars and Restaurants/

Leisure - Short Walks and Cycle Map


It is also worth remembering that we have no minimum run lengths so we are happy to produce 100 Z fold cards if that’s what the customer wants.

Don’t hesitate to contact myself, Matt or Andy if you want any more information, have a technical question or want some samples.


Let's shout about the pride of print!

September 2015

The latest trend seems to be recognising and promoting what a precious commodity printed matter actually is.

With the rise and apparent fall of email marketing campaigns and the realisation that social media may be getting a little boring, maybe it is a good time for our industry to shout a little louder about the value of what we produce.

The ability to be able to create a product that is tactile and retainable is something we should be proud of, so give some thought to what value specialist print finishing can add to the print process.

Here at Clinical we try and offer something a little different to our print customers.  We don’t offer you standard cut, fold, stitch and trim as you can usually do that yourselves.

What we do have is wide a range of small format specialist equipment that will add real value to your print. You do not need to be finishing experts, that’s our job, and we will help you to plan your print to achieve the best result.

Great print and specialist finishing has plenty to add to this digital age, let’s keep it interesting though, and think about our pocket size booklets, die-cuts and Z fold maps sitting alongside those smart phones and iPods.


Inline Stitched Booklets - a dark art?

August 2015

A miniature stitched booklet is pretty much like any booklet or brochure apart from the size, just folded pages with one or two staples in the spine to hold it together and then trimmed to size.

Many of you will know that producing smaller booklets on conventional finishing equipment is not the most pleasurable of experiences. Usually you end up having to guillotine the booklets to size which is a lengthy and costly exercise, and often the quality of the finished booklet is not what it should be.

At Clinical we have a fairly unique way of producing our miniature stitched booklets.  We can produce a booklet of up to 48pp from a single flat sheet; we fold, stitch and trim in one process.

We call this process “ inline” because apart from the initial cutting of the printed flat sheets, it is all ran through one machine.

Our inline machines have a folding machine attached to them which feed and fold directly into the stitching machine. This inline process saves time and cost because we do not have to fold the pages as conventional sections on a separate machine.

A cover feeder can attach a 4pp cover of a different weight if required, and the booklets are then trimmed to singles on dedicated miniature trimmers.

Of course we have to plan these booklets a little differently to conventionally stitched booklets; it all depends on the size and pagination of the booklet.

However, we always provide a working sheet with each booklet so you can plan your print. We will also provide an imposition when the job reaches the planning and artwork stage.

Some people will think that a miniature booklet is some kind of novelty item with limited applications, but just take a moment to think about the products that come packaged with a miniature booklet.

For example, cosmetics and perfumes, mobile phones and ipods, jewellery, gifts, DIY, homewares, drinks and spirits, electrical items etc etc etc.  In fact almost every small packaged product contains a miniature booklet or leaflet containing consumer information.

Then there are the wider applications of miniature booklets; vouchers, event guides, sports fixtures, promotions, tourism, to name just a few.

With miniature booklets  a lot of information can be contained in a small footprint, and the size means they are likely to be retained for longer. 

In producing these booklets, far less paper is used but the perceived  and sale value of the booklet is not significantly lower than a standard size brochure.

I’ve almost convinced myself that every printer and print manager should be selling miniature booklets !  Maybe that’s not as crazy as it sounds………………………………..

 Packaging Innovations 2016 - NEC Birmingham

One of the better trade shows worth visiting is the Packaging Innovations show at the NEC on February 24th & 25th.

The majority of Clinical Print Finisher’s work is for commercial Litho printers but we do have an interest in what is happening in the packaging world as we produce patient information leaflets for the major packaging printers.

We see the show as a good opportunity to meet up with customers and suppliers alike, as there is a wide range of packaging and finishing equipment on view as well as the specialist label and carton printers exhibiting.

There are also a number of printers exhibiting who have moved away a little from the conventional litho print market to focus on packaging. Probably a good move as the packaging market does seem to be less vulnerable to the “slings and arrows “ of the general economy.

There are also a number of printers exhibiting who have moved away a little from the conventional litho print market to focus on packaging. Probably a good move as the packaging market does seem to be less vulnerable to the “slings and arrows “ of the general economy.

I will be there for both days of the show, so if anybody wants to meet up then please let me know.



“Clinical always provide high service levels always happy to help especially with our high demand customer deadlines. Will offer well-constructed solutions for complicated design ideas. Finished ....

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