We noted that barely any college or university actually print diplomas with such a small font size. This is partially because such small letters can not be seen by naked human eyes. More importantly, there are many other anti-counterfeit techniques available today, such as holograms and hidden markers.
Nevertheless, when quality comes first, we believe that our customers do love to have every details of our products. Unfortunately a diploma, for most of us, is not considered as the work of a delicate art. The fact that no one properly appreciates diplomas like Mona Lisa at the Musee du Louvre makes it even more difficult to create.
Furthermore, to print a diploma with graphic or small text as shown above, designers need to have a clear understanding on their printer. It is not playing graphic software in front of a computer monitor where what you see is what you get. If a designer knows nothing about printing, it will be a different story when the paper comes out.
Diploma Printing Techniques
Offset printing is currently the dominant printing process for large batch jobs. Many short-run jobs are being printed digitally as personal and trade printing machines become cheaper and are able to obtain higher quality results.
The basic principle of offset printing is the repulsion of water and oil. Early lithographers etched images onto a flat stone. When ink was applied, the greasy etchings would accept ink, while the porous stone accepted water. Thus, only the etched areas of the lithograph would retain ink.
However, offset printing is not doing much help on diploma printing, at least on the major part. The problem is that it is not affordable for short runs printing jobs. No one would order ten thousand copies of identical diploma under the same name, same major, and same date! However, we still use this for diploma template printing whereby we only print generic sentences on parchment papers. Detailed information such as different name, degree, major and date, involved in the editing processes together with different diploma printing techniques, will be tailor-made to the unique requirements of individual customers.
In engraving, your image is raised above the surface of the paper. This printmaking process yields the sharpest image of all the traditional printing methods.
The most common use of engraving is in the printing of checks, bonds, other security-sensitive papers like Money. The fine detail obtained through engraving makes it difficult to counterfeit. For high security documents, governments will use more than one person to engrave on a single plate to decrease the chance of replication. We have seen very few universities using this technique to print their diploma templates, mostly print their school names, and generic sentences like “This is to certify that”, and “The University hereby confers upon…”. You may ask why there are so few school using this technique on their diplomas. The reason is simple: Cost! Plates for engraving are made of steel for very long runs or copper for short runs. Images or fonts are either hand engraved by skilled craftsmen, machine engraved, or more commonly, through computer-aided machine. Ink is then applied to the plate, filing the cavities. The plate is wiped clean, leaving the recessed image areas filled with ink. Intense pressure is used to transfer the image onto the substrate. This type of work require machine that need to have state registration or licensed. Or if we done everything by hand, the cost will be formidable high. So please don’t ask for this for your diploma printing job.
In thermographic printing, ink is raised above the surface of the paper. It is an affordable imitation of engraving, but to be honest, we don’t favor this technique due to its lack of details. We have seen some schools using it, such as California State University, however it looks a craft arts product rather than a realistic diploma.
This diploma printing technique is simple, the areas selected to display the raised effect are printed with slow-drying inks. These inks exclude dryers and hardeners so that they remain wet for the application of thermographic or embossing powder. This specific power is made from plastic resins, which sticks to the slow drying ink. Heat (900-1300 F) is applied through the use of a radiant oven for a few seconds (2-3 seconds). This melts the plastic resin powder into the ink.
Thermography is more cost effective than engraving, however it lacks precise detail and the quality of the print is limited to the quality of the resins and inks. It is best used in conjunction with other types of printing.