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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

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Printing Companies Specialize in Different Kinds of Work

A careful search for newspaper printers, book printing and publishing companies, or magazine printers will teach you a valuable lesson: not all printing companies are the same.

When you send your job to the printer, exactly what does the printer do? Another way to phrase this is what does one printer do that another cannot do? This is a question you should be asking yourself with every job. To save money buying printing, a prudent buyer requests bids from printers well equipped to produce his or her specific job. Here are a few examples:

Question: You need to print a tabloid for an event your non-profit is sponsoring. What kind of printer do you need?

Answer: Most printing companies do not print on newsprint (also known as groundwood). You need a printer with a web press specifically configured for this kind of thin, lower-quality stock. In your research, look for such terms as “groundwood,” “tabloids,” “cold-set web presses,” and “newspaper presses.” Also research the number of available colors a printer can provide and their placement within a tabloid, as well as the maximum printable image area for each page. Consider distribution as well. If you need the printed product delivered immediately, the printer should be close to your final destination (i.e., a short drive by delivery truck). This is just a start, but it will point you in the right direction.

Question: You are producing a textbook, and you want to find the optimal press. What kind of printer do you need?

Answer: Printing companies specialize in one kind, or a few kinds, of work. Their equipment list will reflect their niche, and your printer’s rep can help you understand this information. A book printer will often have a huge sheetfed press. With an oversized press sheet on a 50-inch press (or larger), you can print many more book pages at once than you can on a smaller press. The signatures that make up your book can have more pages, so fewer signatures will be needed for the same page count. Fewer signatures will require less press time, and this will be reflected in your final cost. In your research, look for “50-inch presses” or “oversized presses.”

Alternatively, some book printers will have one-color web presses, which are good for black text and simple screens. The paper they run is uncoated because non-heatset web presses do not have the ovens needed to dry heavy-coverage 4-color process ink. This is not ideal for high-quality work, but for simple books it is well suited and inexpensive.

Question: You are producing a magazine, and you want to find the optimal press. What kind of printer do you need?

Answer: Given the long press runs, tight schedules, and multiple pages of a magazine, your best bet is a periodical printer. A periodical printer thinks in terms of deadlines and is comfortable producing multiple titles for multiple clients. Usually they have a heatset web press. Unlike the non-heatset web press noted above for books, a heatset web press will allow you to print 4-color process work on a coated press sheet. Like the non-heatset press (also referred to as cold-set), the heatset press can produce the job in a much shorter time than it would take to print the same job on a sheetfed press. The quality is not quite as good, but the price is usually many thousands of dollars less.

Consider the differences between your various jobs, and the skills and equipment you will need for each. Keeping this approach in mind when choosing printing services will save you a lot of money.

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