Most business cards are printed on paper – but they don’t have to be. We’ve printed some really great looking cards on plastic, including one particularly sharp looking card printed with gold foil on a translucent red plastic.
Plastic cards come in a variety of colors now and can easily be made to match your corporate logo.
Another interesting variation of the plastic card is a lenticular business card. They are not very common as business cards but you will frequently see them in a much larger format – such as billboards! They’re created by imposing two images on a single side; one image is viewed when you hold the card at a certain angle, while the other image is seen when the angle is changed.
Since most cards are paper, let’s talk about paper stock. Paper weights (thickness) are expressed in points and 1 point equals .001 inch. So 10 points = .01” . The least expensive cards are generally printed on .009” (also called “80# cover”) stock and frankly, don’t choose anything thinner. The next heavier stock commonly used is .011” (also called “100# cover”) and can be acceptable, especially if you just need a very small quantity and need to keep the cost super low.
The minimum for a respectful business card is 14 pts. If you like something even heavier, consider 16 pts. In either case you will have something substantial and professional to hand out.
Paper stock is available in either gloss or matte finish. Contrary to popular belief, a matte finish actually has a slight sheen to it. Three additional finishes often used to protect the card and keep it sharp looking are Varnish, AQ (Aqueous) and UV (Ultra Violet). AQ and UV are now applied more than varnish and the short answer to the difference between the two is that AQ has a softer shine while UV offers a high gloss finish.
Design Hint #1: Put a protective coating (AQ or UV) only on the front of your card if you need to write on the back.
These three protective coatings will be applied to gloss cover stocks. Another option to consider is higher quality paper stocks, Classic Crest, Classic Linen and Classic Laid. These papers are available in cover weights but unlike traditional smooth cover stock, they have texture . Business cards printed on Classic Crest, Laid or Linen are more expensive and they show it.
Business cards can also be printed on magnetic materials. These can be perfect if you want your information readily available to your clients. Examples include insurance agents, plumbers, veterinarians and local restaurants who want their numbers stuck to the side of a refrigerator.