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Software Review of:
Producing gift bags and trading cards with 3M Printscape Products

 

Susan Ives is a former president of Alamo PC.

From the July 2003 issue of PC Alamode Magazine

I love two things — Chinese food and a bargain — so it is a blessed convergence that there is a Big Lots just a couple of storefronts down from the Chinese Buffet in Colonies North. About a month ago I hit the jackpot — we arrived at the buffet on crab legs night and they had 3M Printscape products on sale at the Lot.

Printscape is a two part system. Part 1 is design software that works with all of the Printscape products. Install it once, learn to use it once. Part 2 is the specialty paper products. I bought two: The gift bags and the trading cards.

The gift bags come in two flavors: a square bottom and a rectangular bottom. In the kit you get 10 pieces of a nice glossy card stock, pre-scored to fold into bags, a roll of double-stick tape to attach the two halves of the bag together, 10 handles, a template and instructions and the software disk. You design your bag on the computer, print the two halves, punch out the cardstock, tape it together and insert the handles. Instant custom bag. The kit makes five.
gift bags

With the trading cards you get paper stock, pre-scored to make into 12 double-sided cards, 12 laminating pockets, the software and a template. You can use these to make trading cards – for a softball team, or the 12 apostles for a Sunday school class, for example. You can also laminate other things of your own choosing: they suggest wallet photos, emergency numbers, ID badges and luggage tags. I bought five sets with the intent of making a set of playing cards. The lamination pockets are self-stick and do not require heat or special equipment to seal.

The transparent templates included in each kit are to help you calibrate your printer before you go final on the expensive paper.

Other projects include mouse pads, personalized Post-It Notes, a sign kit that makes durable signs and various greeting card kits. The kits list from $9-12, but my internet search found wildly fluctuating prices. For example, the trading card kit, with a MSRP of $10.99, is selling used but untouched at Amazon from $10.29 to $26.49. Actual prices for the product line range from about $11 to $18. I blush at my good fortune, I paid $1.99 for each kit at Big Lots.

The software is easy to use. After you pick your project the software leads you step-by-step through a customization process. They call it “smart design,” which they claim is better than a mere template. You can start with a blank screen or use one of their templates. Additional templates and clipart are available online at 3mPrintScape. The software comes with background images and 1600 clipart images, but you can easily insert your own. There is a text effect wizard that helps you create jazzy text. The projects are saved in a proprietary .std format. As I went through the help menu I found some fairly sophisticated features – the ability to merge data from a database and to scan directly from the program.

These are nifty ideas that will get a big WOW from friends and family, but they are pricey. Now that I have a see-through template and design software for a gift bag, I can make them for a few cents rather than a few dollars. I can make trading cards and laminate them at the copy shop for about 1/4 the price of the kit.

You can download the software for free from the PrintScape site. There is also a Mac version available there. It is unclear whether the software is exactly the same, but it seems to do the same stuff.

The CD also comes with a program called Post-It Notes Lite, which is a computer version of sticky notes. I found it quite horrible and deleted it.

If you have trouble finding the products locally (I would look at an office supply store) call 1-888-3M-HELPS for assistance.


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