Made in America: A Behind the Scenes Look at Event Passes

In 1986, Ronald Regan declared December as Made in America Month as a way to encourage consumers to support American businesses and encourage economic growth. Over the past few years, “people have been very concerned about the economy and growing the economy.  All of our laminates are American made in our own production facility,” states operations manager, Tommy Doyle.

We believe that it’s important to know where your products come from. So, in honor of Made in America Month we’d like to give you a tour of our Chicagoland-based event pass production facility. We interviewed operations manager, Tommy Doyle to show you exactly what goes into creating our products.

After the design has been finalized, what does the event pass printing process look like?

Once the artwork is finalized, it is uploaded to our production facility. From there, we look over the job specifications and run a few test sheets to make sure everything is lined up correctly before printing it on our digital printer.

 It’s a 4 step process, from the digital printer it goes to the laminator and then the tags are punched out and counted on our manual die presses. The last step is after the tags are punched out, we have a shipping process where everything is boxed and double checked by 2 person teams.

Nothing gets sealed without getting double checked by somebody else. Before it gets closed for shipment, we double check the quantities and our product staff goes through the tags tom make sure that all the names are accounted for.

How large is your printing facility?

It’s about 1,000 sq. feet.

Does your printing process differ from larger operations?

The process is very similar in the way the event passes are printed laminated and cut. The only difference in the process is that some higher quantity manufacturers may use a larger printer that prints out more sheets at once.  

Maybe they use ink instead of toner. On the backend they might have automatic die cutters instead of manual. Some of them might not even laminate their tags. There’s a huge market out there for tags that are unlaminated and just stuffed into plastic sleeves or pouches.

What kind of quality control measures do you have in place in terms of your printing operations?

We have someone monitoring every step of the process.  So, there’s someone monitoring the printer and that same person might be monitoring the laminator as well. Then we have two people that are punching the product out and shipping the product as well. So every step of the process is monitored by someone.

How many people does it take to complete a run?

You definitely need 2 for sure, so about 2-3.

How does the printing process differ between the glossy finish and matte finishes?

It’s basically the same process; we switch out the laminate roll so that you’re using a matte finish for one of the sides. The printing process is the same, the lamination process is the same and the cutting is the same.

There is one little difference though, for the matte product, we can’t just let the product sit in the feeder tray because the if the matte side touches the glossy side and stays there too long it will burn the sheet and you’ll have a burn almost like a scar on your tags.

Why did you decide to set up your own in-house printing facility? Was it speed?  Better quality control or, to keep your operations local?

Definitely for speed and better quality control; we wanted to be able to keep an eye on everything from the beginning when we start printing, to the end when we pack it up.

There was very little quality control with one of the vendors we used in the past and we had a lot of issues with them sending us passes with wrong names and missing names, incorrect quantities and stuff like that.

We also wanted to keep it local, which improved the pricing as well. When we started printing in-house we sped up our process, we had better control over our product and we found we could lower the prices because our margins were better.

Made in America – that’s a term you don’t hear every day in the event passes industry, but it’s one that we’re proud to be able to put on our products. “It’s important that we’re able to put that stamp [American Made] on our passes because very few people are able to do that,” says creative director, Sarah Kern.

laminator for id badges

The laminator heats rolls of lamination plastic up to 300 degrees fahrenheit. It's a very high powered piece of equipment, so you have to be careful around it.

plastic cutter for id badges

The cutter utilizes a laser sensor to determine when the next sheet of passes is ready. It's a fast machine that works on both glossy and matte passes.

We hope you enjoyed this tour of the Event Passes facility. If American made is as important to you as it is to us, contact us for a quote and quick turnaround times on one-of-a-kind passes for your next event.