Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

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.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

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.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Custom Printing: Buying Just One Prototype of a Presentation Binder

Photo purchased from …

I remember learning the concept of a “one-off.” Since I was used to ordering 60,000+ copies of a print book job back in the ‘90s as an art director of a nonprofit government education organization, I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around producing only one copy of anything.

The Product: a One-off Fabric Sample Binder

In that light, about a month ago a print brokering client of mine came to me with a project: a bedding sample presentation binder (turned-edge fabric over binder’s boards). As a less expensive option, she also suggested a cover-stock fold-over “topper,” with cardboard wrapped around the top of a stack of bedding fabric samples. Both of these reminded me of the wood-sample presentation box I brokered earlier this year for a flooring manufacturer, so I had some idea of where to go for custom printing help.

As just noted, my client wanted a high-end option with turned-edge fabric over binder’s boards. This is not unlike a casebound book, in that the fabric material would be folded over and then glued down to thick chipboard. It would open up (i.e., you would lift the top, and there would be a stack of 12” x 12” fabric samples attached to the bottom cover by two screw-and-post assemblies that would go through holes drilled into the fabric. The screw-and-post assemblies would not only hold everything together; they would also be removable, so the fabric sample pieces could be taken out, reordered, or replaced. When the top was lowered, the case would essentially be a top-opening binder with short vertical sides going forward from the spine (maybe 2”) for stability and protection.

My client would choose the fabric. She also wanted to foil stamp her logo in one, two, or three colors on the front top of the binder.

Option B would be the fold-over topper, essentially a sheet of cardboard covering the back of the stack of bedding fabric samples and then coming up and over the top. The topper would extend downward (maybe 3”), with hot foil stamped custom printing (one color in the sample) of the logo, contact information, etc. A single staple would hold everything together (an especially thick and strong staple to go through the top, all 12’’ x 12” fabric samples, and the bottom of the wrap-around topper).

So, these were options A and B. But just in case all of this broke my client’s budget, she later sent me photos of a plastic binder with clear plastic envelopes opening at the top. A sample fabric swatch could be slipped into each envelope, and the front of the plastic binder could be decorated by the printer.

Now the key for you to remember here is that this is a one-off project, essentially a prototype. If my client’s clients like the product, they may go forward and produce another 50 copies or 100 copies. That’s not a lot. This display case would only need to be sent to business locations within one US state. And this was not even a certainty.

How I Proceeded

Having brokered the flooring-sample display case earlier in the year, the first thing I did was go back to the previous vendors. Neither could do the one-off item. Both vendors were set up to make prototypes (but of a hand-made quality) only as a precursor to a longer run.

So I approached a high-end marketing-item vendor I’ve known for a decade and asked for suggestions. He mentioned a local letterpress vendor. I knew the letterpress vendor was set up to do very short runs of pristine work. In fact, what I was looking for was (probably) a single business owner working out of a house, making one copy or ten or 100 copies of such display boxes or other turned-edge products. A large firm wouldn’t be interested. At least that was my assumption.

I also put the specs up on the Printing Industry Exchange website, always a good way to get new vendors.

Furthermore, at this point I had begun to consider the specific commercial printing technology needed for the product. Custom screen printing might be nice (on the fabric case), with opulent, thick ink. But then I remembered what I always say in the PIE Blog articles. Custom screen printing is for very large press runs. With all of the make-ready work, I couldn’t imagine the cost to screen print one copy.

So I moved on to letterpress and foil stamping as options to decorate both the turned-edge presentation binder and the paper topper. Since my client’s logo included three colors, I knew this would be expensive. I feared she might abandon the project due to cost considerations. After all, each color for the foil stamping would require a metal die to cut the foil. And each die would cost about $300. Under the circumstances, I assumed letterpress would also be expensive, since it would require three metal relief plates (or fewer, if I could get my client to print a one- or two-color version of the logo).

Moving On

By about this time, I had heard back from three vendors: a vendor in India (from the specs I had uploaded to the PIE website), a larger finishing firm (specializing in binding and open to making just one copy), and a vendor with a screen printing press and letterpress in her home (that’s what it looked like on her website).

As noted, one vendor came to me through PIE, but the other two vendors came through the printers I had approached. I knew their referrals would be good because I trust these printers. I have known them for decades, and have cultivated mutually beneficial working relationships with them over the years. There are no better sources for printers than other printers.

The larger finishing house is currently bidding on the job. They would make metal dies and foil stamp the fabric binder or the “wrap-around topper.” I have also asked this vendor to make suggestions on the plastic binder option (the fallback, which my client suggested after sending me photos of the other two options). I know he will be expensive because I understand the process.

The vendor with the custom screen printing press and letterpress in her house (actually I just learned her business is in a small building) is losing her building, so I’m a bit stuck. Depending on when my client will need her single prototype bedding fabric sample binder, this particular vendor may or may not be available. But I had been especially impressed with her website and with the glowing words of the letterpress printer who recommended her. From this I learned (again) that it’s vital to have a back-up plan. In this case the back-up plan will be either the larger, dedicated finishing shop (i.e., they specialize in post-press finishing work) or my wild-card, the printer in India.

The Printer in India

The printer in India is a wild card. He approached me based on the specs I had uploaded to the Printing Industry Exchange website. However, only the printing plant is in India. My contact’s office is on the East Coast of the United States: i.e., potentially accessible if need be. Moreover, he would coordinate shipping, import paperwork and duties, and all the other things I’ve never needed to learn about and that seem particularly ominous considering current shipping delays.

In addition, he has offered to do this as a service, which he offers to clients. That is, the product would be a prototype, a single copy, a one-off print job. He usually does this for $300 plus shipping. Maybe he presumes I will work with him in the future (or my client will).

Overall, for the price, and assuming my client will review samples from this particular printer (not just photos of his samples), I have presented this option as a gamble. My client would have a back-up plan (probably the larger vendor who focuses on post-press finishing work), but first she would take a risk on the printer in India (if there’s time for this in her schedule). I’m not advising her to do this. Personally, the farthest I’ve gone to buy printing has been Canada. I’m just presenting this as an option.

But now, here’s the real surprise: The printer in India would do the foil decoration using a Scodix machine. Scodix digitally adds a faux-foil (really colored plastic) coating without making any metal dies. That is, the process saves $300 for each extra color done traditionally, and at the same time it allows for multiple colored foils to be used at the same time. Plus, the samples I’ve seen of Scodix work are quite good.

But it is an option. I’ve laid out all of these possibilities for my client, and I am waiting for pricing from the vendor who specializes in post-press finishing work. We’ll see how things go.

What We Can Learn

There’s a wealth of information here. Consider these points when you’re buying printing:

    1. If you’re doing something out of the ordinary, go to your trusted commercial printing suppliers, and ask for referrals. You have already established a level of trust, so their recommendations will be golden.


    1. Consider larger printers, but also consider smaller printers (or in my case micro-vendors, or “cottage-industry shops”). Base this on the size of your press run. Printers who staff up (and buy equipment for longer press runs) often can’t handle extremely short runs economically, whereas small shops often have tabletop, hand-operated equipment.


    1. Always have one or two back up plans. One of your printers may be unavailable at the moment (like the aforementioned cottage-shop vendor who needs a new location for her business).


  1. Think carefully about the preferred custom printing method. Custom screen printing might look good, but for one copy it’s prohibitively expensive. Consider foil stamping or Scodix digital decoration.

What will I do if my client doesn’t want to take the risk of buying a prototype from India, and if the post-press finishing shop is too expensive, and if the vendor losing her building can’t get a new one in time? I’ll contact all of my trusted vendors again and ask for referrals to good printers who have a Scodix digital foil machine.

Comments are closed.


Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved