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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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Archive for the ‘Printing’ Category

Seven Mistakes to Avoid When You are Getting a Print Material Done

Thursday, January 21st, 2021

Banners, binders, e-books, envelopes, decal, note cards, placemats, handouts, stickers, calendars and so on, there are many things that you may be looking to get printed. Your motive behind them can be having something personalized, or for your business branding or to create an effective advertising campaign.

When you want to have something printed, you look for affordable printing services, and quality backed printing. This is where avoiding some key mistakes becomes highly important. So, what are those mistakes? Read on to know:

Poor Design

A poor design not only means an unattractive design flow but also means sticking to something obsolete. It also means not following the basic guidelines for the print. When you want something visually appealing, you should go for an exceptional and unique design finish that is also effective.

Text Errors

Textual errors like spelling mistakes and wrong use of words can put your effort to waste. This is something that is very basic and must not be committed at all. While we all are liable to make spelling mistakes repeatedly, print material has to be done fully right. This is where a thorough proofreading of the design draft is necessary.

Overcrowded Design

What purpose will your print material do if it is illegible and annoying to read? There has to be the right balance between color, design, font, and use of text. Overcrowding, even a single element will make it look shabby.

Low Resolution

In the times of high-resolution images and videos everywhere, why commit this gross mistake of keeping the print image to a low resolution that can be denoted easily with tiny dots of color? Make sure that you look at the DPI of your print material. Consult your service fully regarding this. If the print draft or sample looks even a bit blurry go for a higher DPI.

Picking the Wrong Print Material

Are you getting a calendar printed? Are you looking for posters? Have you considered the material on which your design will get printed? For different print types, different print materials correspond to. Ensure that you have sorted this out with your service provider. Go for a few samples to ensure that product is right.

Using the Wrong Format

While you may think that the result will get physically printed why put thought into the format. But this is where many printing mistakes occur. There are certain formats like .png and .gif which don’t translate into high resolution in the prints. Make sure your print file format is that which can handle high PPI.

Choosing the Wrong Service Provider

Chances of the above mistakes occurring drop-down when you work with a quality, reliable, and experienced service provider. Ensure to look for a printing company with expertise in different printing materials, specific to meet your requirements.

The printing process isn’t as simple as it may. It involves different levels and procedures. Therefore, start looking for document printing online that cater to your requirements well by avoiding serious mistakes is recommended.

Commercial Printing: Views on the Future of Printing

Monday, January 11th, 2021

Photo purchased from …

None of us in commercial printing can read the tea leaves or a crystal ball and know exactly where custom printing is headed, but it’s pretty clear that the field has been changing. Fortunately, it’s just changing but not going away.

In this light I was pleased to find on the Ironmark website an article entitled “The Future of Print,” by Lynne Kingsley. (The article was previously printed in Image Nation Magazine, Spring 2019 edition.

“The Future of Print” is based on a discussion with five custom printing experts: Michael Cooper, VP, General Manager, Lindenmeyr Munroe; Jay K. Goldscher, President and CEO, PGAMA (Printing and Graphics Association of the Mid-Atlantic); Kenny Grady, Manager of Global Print Production, Gartner; Stephanie Hill, Senior Business Development Manager, HP Graphic Solutions Business, Americas; and Ryan T. Sauers, President, Sauers Consulting.

If the names don’t ring a bell, you can take my word for it or Google them. As a group they represent multiple decades of experience in the commercial printing field. Therefore, I was pleased to see a compendium of their views, which is the next best thing to having a crystal ball.

General Trends in Printing

In distilling the article into a series of trends, Lynne Kingsley’s article includes the following sections:

  1. “Embracing Innovation”
  2. “Integrating with Digital Technology”
  3. “Getting More Customized”
  4. “Inkjet Technology”
  5. “Wide Format”
  6. “Packaging”
  7. “Subscription Boxes”
  8. “Online Integration”
  9. “Personalization for Print”
  10. “Web-to-Print Portals”
  11. “The Amount and Speed of Change”

Here’s my own summary of the trends noted by Lynne Kingsley and the five print professionals listed above.

Embracing Innovation

As things change rapidly (and this in many cases means the consolidation of print vendors and the closing of many commercial printing plants), the vendors who survive will be those who embrace new technologies and reposition themselves as “communications companies, offering solutions well above and beyond a traditional print facility” (Michael Cooper, VP, General Manager, Lindenmeyr Munroe, from “The Future of Print,” by Lynne Kingsley).

This is what this means. When I first started in the commercial printing industry, back in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, all of the print production tasks were separate. A typesetter (who only set type) prepared galleys for the graphic artist, who pasted them up into artwork for the printer to photograph so he could make printing plates. The entire industry was like this. Everything was broken into separate professions. The people did separate tasks, usually manually.

In the late 1980s, graphic design and printing in general were becoming increasingly automated and computerized, and the distinctions among the various tasks started to break down. (For example, at that point, a graphic designer could set type on a Macintosh computer and also do page composition and other graphic design tasks.)

Now, in 2020 it is not enough for printers to put ink on paper (or even ink and toner on paper). They need to get involved in the process earlier, focusing with clients on the marketing, instruction, persuasion, and other communications goals eventually reflected in a printed product.

Those who don’t, won’t prosper.

Integration with Digital Technology

People like printed products. There is something about the feel of the paper. There is also a sense that print products have a permanence digital media does not.

Print media is also efficient in driving customers online. You read something in a brochure and you want to know more. Or you want to buy something, so you check the catalog for the company website information. The extent to which the analog process of printing and the digital online experience can be seamlessly connected is the extent to which both will prosper. Together the whole is stronger than either part individually. (You may want to research multi-channel marketing, or omni-channel marketing, which address what Lynne Kingsley’s article “The Future of Print” calls “the symbiotic integration” of print products and the online experience.)

“The Future of Print” also mentions 3D printing at this point, noting that it combines printing (you use equipment similar to an inkjet printer to extrude layers of plastic instead of liquid ink) and digital technology.

Personally, I would go further and include 3D printing as a category by itself, since it brings together 3D physical reality (you actually create a physical object you can use) and digital information. I’d also include digital video, augmented reality, and virtual reality, since I can foresee the integration of all of these with print products.


Back in the day, when I was an art director of a nonprofit educational foundation, we mailed out a huge number of sales brochures many times each year. Needless to say, the overall printing costs were much higher then than now. Also, at that time we considered a 3-percent to 7-percent response rate to be very good.

Now, since the infinite variability of digital printing can change each item during the printing process, it is possible to target individual prospects with an exceptionally high degree of accuracy.

So we don’t print as many copies of a brochure, for instance, and each brochure may have (slightly or vastly) different content. Plus, it might include the prospective client’s name and address. All of this makes for a more personal reader experience. It also increases marketing success, since the right information is more likely to get into the right hands, without the waste of extra printed brochures not pertinent to the reader’s interests.

Lynne Kingsley also adds that well-executed demographic research (data aggregation and data mining) can help make the print experience more personal. It can help the prospective client feel that a company understands her/his needs and wants to initiate a dialogue.

In both of these cases I myself would add another distinction. While personalization and customization are closely related, I think of customization as a changing of the content of a printed piece to provide the information a client needs (versioning, if you will). And I think of personalization as including such variable data as a potential client’s name, address, etc. Both are crucial. They imply that you know your audience and that you care about helping them.

Inkjet Technology and Wide Format Printing

According to the five experts quoted in “The Future of Print,” inkjet technology is taking off, and it is doing so in two ways. First, it can be used as an alternative to offset lithography for books and other page-based commercial printing. Production-level inkjet presses come in roll-fed and sheetfed configurations that are fast and cost-efficient. Moreover, there is now a wider range of inks available for inkjet printing (which support using a wider variety of substrates). The article even references advances in conductive ink, and Jay K. Goldscher, President and CEO, PGAMA (Printing and Graphics Association of the Mid-Atlantic), notes that “putting nano particles in the ink…[is]…probably one of the biggest innovations that’s coming down the line.”

The other venue in which inkjet excels is large-format printing. And this has been especially effective for marketing materials on walls, floors, and windows. These inkjet prints can also be replaced quickly and easily, keeping the overall cost contained.

And the same technology can be used to decorate ceramic tiles, fabric, and wallpaper: all of which are staples of creative interior design.


Lynne Kingsley’s article goes on to address the huge growth engine of product packaging and labels, not only for retail products but also for “subscription boxes,” which allow buyers to receive (at home) periodic deliveries of items of interest. (So, essentially, this is a shop-at-home option.)

In both cases, it is clear to marketers that buyers want the product packaging to be attractive, engaging, and pertinent to their interests. The box is no longer just a container. (Marketers refer to the “unboxing” experience.) It is a way to showcase the products and to evoke those thoughts and feelings related to the product.

Interestingly enough, Kingsley’s article, “The Future of Print,” also ties this focus on packaging into the online buying experience, noting that Amazon itself has created the largest market for customized, high-end packaging. And they do this so well that their clients won’t go anywhere else to buy.

Web-to-Print Portals

If you’re a marketing manager for a large company with a number of subsidiaries or just different departments, it’s hard to ensure visual brand consistency over a range of print publications. What a web portal does is allow those who need multiple copies of your brochures, sell sheets, or whatever, for a trade show or seminar, to access a template, add personalized or versioned information, and print copies, all without altering the company brand “look.” This is achieved by only allowing them access to certain design parameters (while locking down others, such as the logo design, size, position, and coloration).

The Amount and Speed of Change

Lynne Kingsley’s article basically distinguishes between the death of print (which isn’t happening) and the dramatic changes in print technology (which are happening). And all of this is happening really, really quickly. Those who are knowledgeable, savvy, and nimble will prosper. Others will not. So the take-away is that if you are a print supplier or designer, everything you learn about the future of commercial printing is an investment in your own professional future.

Advantages of Online Printing Companies

Monday, December 7th, 2020

None of the businesses today can function without online printing services. In fact, the number of companies providing both online and offline print services are more than the ones providing offline print services. Magazines or newsletters still have to be printed in many companies for the sake of internal communication. The technologies for online printing companies is very different from offline ones.

Customized prints are in

We are living in the period where all individuals like to own customized items, which help to showcase to the world who we are. Items such as mugs, cards, keychains, T-shirts, and notepads cam make use of customized prints, which are made possible through online printing companies.

More items that can be printed include:

  • Standees
  • Pamphlets and flyers
  • Brochures
  • Grocery bags
  • Hologram stickers
  • Plastic cards
  • Car wraps
  • Posters
  • Leaflets
  • Membership cards
  • Banners
  • Letterheads
  • Mouse pads

Positive customer satisfaction

Any company which gets in touch with a printing vendor is a B2B customer. Every interaction with a reputed vendor will be a pleasant experience, from interactions on the company portal to order tracking. This will be much easier than the efforts needed to work with local printers. While companies focus on product marketing, the printing company will get the material ready.

Top advantages of digital prints

  • Digital prints are much faster than traditional print methods, making it easy to meet deadlines. Detailed samples can also be prepared quickly.
  • Highly suitable for low volume print jobs, one of them being printed newsletters
  • Highly cost effective
  • Very accurate in terms of proofing
  • Any alterations in images, colors, and text can be made without slowing down the print process significantly
  • One can print diverse marketing campaigns with this method

The best way to search for a suitable printing service in today’s times is to spend a lot of time on the Internet. One can locate a suitable print coordinator here to coordinate with many of the top printing companies around the world. Any chosen print company will have to work through the coordinator, which makes it easier to choose from various choices. It is not necessary to travel to another location to get the print anymore, since payment gateways are available online. One can easily check the popularity of a printing company on Google.

Various kinds of paper

Every company can ask for a particular type of paper to get its product printed. The requirements of one business would be different from another. One is likely to find the following paper options:

  • Glossy paper
  • Matte paper
  • Bright white paper
  • Inkjet printer paper

Industries which need online print

Online printing is suitable for the following industries:

  1. Education– Magazines, flyers, newsletters, and certificates are still used in the education sector, though their drafts are designed online
  2. Healthcare– Several patient reports have to be printed here, and they require remote printing solutions
  3. Advertising and marketing– Though most advertising is online, flyers and brochures still need to be printed

Four Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring A Document Printing Service

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Every business needs the assistance of professional printing services at some point. However, not every printing service can offer satisfactory quality backed services to everyone as they might lack the necessary experience and knowledge. So, choosing a printing service for commercial purposes is quite an overwhelming task. There are so many things to consider these days, and also there is the stress of making the best decision that makes the entire process quite difficult. Besides, none can afford to compromise on the printing quality when it comes to their business. So, people should be a little vigilant while hiring online document printing services in order to ensure satisfactory quality. Fortunately, one may land on the best printing services by asking them some relevant questions. Let’s take a look at the following:

1. How Many Printing Options They Have?

Reputable and professional online document printing services will always offer plenty of printing options for their clients. One may not need all the options at once, but it provides the opportunity for customization. Professionals always allow their clients to set preferences regarding the font, color, size, edge, and paper type to yield the best output. Therefore, it’s important to consider checking the printing options and the ways for customization while choosing a professional printing service.

2. Are they Interested to Show Sample Work?

The samples provide an idea regarding the printing tasks that the company has done previously. Any reliable and professional will be eager to showcase their printing samples to win the trust of their clients. But, if the company is making promises out of thin air, then they will always refrain from showcasing their work. This is why it’s important to check the samples of their previous work before signing a deal with them. One can check the paper type, color, layout, and all the aspects regarding the printing work by checking a sample. Also, this helps people to evaluate the competitive skills of the printing company.

3. Will they Complete the Project Within the Deadline?

Everyone has a certain turn-around time for their business. There may be promotional events coming up when the urgency of printing materials is at its peak. In such cases, people should ask the printing company whether they can complete the project within a brief time or not. It’s always better to find professionals that provide fast turn-around time. It’s because a business may tarnish its reputation due to the unsatisfactory services of a printing company.

4. Do they have an Exemplary Customer Service?

Customer service is essential to ensure guaranteed quality from the printing company. If anyone wants to partner with a printing company that shows dedication to provide satisfactory services, they will have exemplary customer service. The staff must be courteous, attentive, and knowledgeable enough to go the extra mile when it comes to solving an issue of their customer. These are the few questions one must ask before hiring a printing company for their business.

Why We Need Flyer Printing Services

Monday, October 5th, 2020

One of the most economical ways of marketing any business is with the use of flyers, which are one or two page documents in colored prints. The main idea behind using flyer printing services is to attract customers through attractive pictures, colors and text. A lot of emphasis is given to the layout, which is then given form with the efforts of the printing company.

Design flyers with these points in mind

Companies which design flyers for your firm would benefit through the following tips:

  • The flyer must always have the brand logo, which will be important for identification of products and services, as well as brand recall
  • Images with rich colors create greater impact on consumers than dull images
  • Copywriters need to come up with catchy messages on the flyer. Despite no long sentences being used, they must ensure that there are no spell errors in the final copies.

Purposes of flyers

You may have already seen many of these showcased through flyer printing services. Even if you are unaware of some, here are the reasons for which flyers are used:

  • Making product sheets
  • Preparing marketing collaterals
  • Distribution of handouts at trade shows
  • Giving home descriptions
  • Data sheet printing
  • Preparing price lists
  • Printing information about new cars
  • Information about upcoming events in media kits
  • Home delivery menus for restaurants

All the text given in a flyer is prepared by experienced copywriters. This content has to be written keeping in mind the interest and the attention spans of the target audience. A flyer has to grab the customer’s attention within a very short time. For those who want more details, appropriate information must also be given in the colorful paper.


Suitable printing service is a good service example. You will find it convenient to get the flyers printed through a reliable printing service. In case you have a small business, it would help your company to tie up with a vendor who can give quality services at an affordable price. For this purpose, companies can now get in touch with print coordinators, who contact printing vendors in different parts of the world. In other words, you will always have a single contact point once you choose a suitable vendor.

Based on your task, all the vendors will place bids. You can choose from one amongst those bids, and the coordinator will make sure all the deliverables of that vendor are easily managed. In this way, you will always get the best quality of print as per the prices. It is clearly the best printing solution for the digital age.

No need to invest in print resources

These print vendors are capable of taking up several print jobs, which include printing banners, bank cards, newsletters, flyers, billboards, magazines, letterheads, and car wraps as well. It will enable you to concentrate on other important areas of expanding the business and will help script your growth story. The vendors have the latest print technologies and the capabilities for undertaking any print job, so why spend resources on an in-house team?

How to Get Personalized Items Through Custom Printing Services

Monday, October 5th, 2020

Irrespective of whether you have books, postcards or rack projects to be printed, you will require the services of a reputed printing company. Printing companies now provide their services online, making it really simple for clients to contact them. These days, you can get in touch with a suitable printing coordinator who shares your requirement with global print firms. Based on the nature of the print job, companies send their price quotes back to the coordinator, leaving you to pick one of them. To get quotes for these custom printing services, you will not have to pay a penny.

Custom prints for t-shirts

Custom t-shirts are hot favorites among the youth today. These t-shirts act as extensions of personalities and help them create their own spaces in the world. If your company is in the business of manufacturing or selling these t-shirts, you will need to get custom printing services. You will need to find a suitable printing company to keep costs under control.

Youngsters who are fond of such printed cotton t-shirts must keep checking the Internet for attractive offers. It would also be a good idea for them to monitor End of Season offers on various company websites. There will be nothing more satisfying for them than getting several printed t-shirts at excellent prices. Most of all, both genders are equally fond of these clothes.


You can offer print templates

As a retailer for t-shirts, you can always offer easy printing templates on your website. There is a lot of satisfaction in knowing that their designs are part of the final print. For this, you need to ensure that the process of creating a new design is made easy through templates, or else customers will lose interest.

Custom printed t-shirts can be distributed among all members of a particular team building activity at any corporate organizations. Employees of a company can participate together at events such as:

  • Cycling events
  • Adventure sports
  • Marathons

Custom book prints

It will be a matter of great satisfaction for the customers who get their own custom printed books. Much of the text, images, and a number of other variables will give you special memories every time. Also, it does not take very long to print a custom book today as compared to earlier. Now it takes only a week to order, print, and then get it shipped to a customer. What’s more, you can order custom books of any sizes.

Self publishing experts can add the customization options such as custom end sheets, headbands and foot bands, and embossing to make custom books beautiful.

Custom printed postcards

Postcards, along with letters, are two of the best direct marketing requirements of any company. It is the most economical mode of increasing sales figures at any firm. For this, the firm will require custom postcards. Companies making them also have suitable tools to personalize each one of them. The postcards are versatile enough to be used for both public and personal occasions. Once again, they require printing services of excellent companies.

Commercial Printing: Four Print Jobs, One New Client

Sunday, August 9th, 2020

I recently had the opportunity to provide pricing for four new custom printing jobs for a prospective client. It’s a writers’ organization that provides educational and promotional services. This group was open to my interest as a commercial printing broker since I have produced perfect bound print books for one of theipackager members for almost ten years now.

My Prospective Client’s Printed Products

This particular client has an interesting mix of products:

  1. A twice-yearly catalog. Currently it is 8.5” x 11”, saddle stitched, 40 pages, with a press run of 11,000 copies.
  2. A twice-yearly perfect-bound book of poetry, in 8.5” x 11” format, with a length of 140 pages and a press run of 1,000 copies.
  3. A once-yearly, 80-page, perfect-bound book with a format of 5.8” x 8.3” and a 150-copy press run.
  4. A twice-yearly promotional letter with a #10 envelope, a #9 envelope, and a business reply card (BRC). The press run is 3,000 copies with a match mailing.

The first thing my prospective client asked was whether I could suggest a single printer that could do all of these jobs. I said I thought that would be unlikely (or at least somewhat limiting) for the following reasons:

  1. When I looked closely at the sample catalog, I saw that it had been printed on what looked like a newspaper stock (rough and a bit dingy; that is, the whiteness and brightness of the stock, along with the coarseness of the halftone screens and occasional press roller marks, suggested that it had been printed on a dedicated newspaper press, not a conventional offset press. Most printers that own a newspaper press focus exclusively on groundwood products like newspapers and catalogs.
  2. The book of poetry was easy. Almost any printer could produce this print book, although based on the press run I assumed it would be printed most economically via offset lithography.
  3. The 80-page book would need to be produced via digital custom printing, since it had a press run of only 150 copies. To use offset printing for such a short run would make the unit cost prohibitive.
  4. The promotional letter required a lettershop. A lettershop focuses (often primarily) on producing large volume mailings (3,000 is small) along with inserting services, addressing via inkjet, processing the mail, and entering sorted and metered promotional pieces into the mail stream.

Under the circumstances, my client understood that I could find a better match for the jobs if I found the proper printer for each job (with the best equipment and pricing) rather than looking for a one-stop shop.

How I Approached the Bidding Process

As with anything else in life, the best approach is to break down a complex job into successive logical steps. So that is what I did.

  1. I identified at least two printers I trusted to do each of the four kinds of work. In some cases I chose three, but I also was on a bit of a schedule, so I wanted to get at least something back to my prospective client relatively quickly. I knew I could do more shopping if I could keep my client’s interest (i.e., provide good initial bids and quality samples).
  2. I composed a list of specifications for each job, everything from the finished size and press run to the paper specs and use of color, binding, etc. I sent these to my client for her approval and additions or changes.
  3. I composed a spreadsheet noting the overall price (including shipping) and unit cost for each vendor’s job estimate. I did this so I would have one spreadsheet with which I could determine both a cost comparison and also a comparison of the specifications. (Different printers provided not only different pricing but also slightly different specs on the jobs, and I wanted a way to see exactly how the costs—and what they were based on—compared. That way I could determine what additional information I would need from each vendor.)
  4. I sent an RFQ (request for quotation) to each printer and waited for their response.

What I Received from the Printers

The first thing I found was that one of the newspaper printers I had chosen “no bid” the job. It didn’t fit their schedule or equipment. It is possible that the size of the catalog was a problem (8.5” x 11”), since the other printer offered 8” x 10.75”, full color throughout, saddle stitched, as an alternative.

I knew which newspaper press my client was currently using (she had told me), and I also knew that local newspaper printers were few. Therefore, I chose to accept this printer’s specifications and pricing for my vendor pricing grid.

Depending on my client’s reaction to the price and the format, I knew I could always expand my search. After all, an especially attractive price might induce my client to change the format slightly.

One of the other printers (whom I had worked with for almost twenty years) didn’t respond to my initial RFQ or my follow-up email, so I assumed they were not interested (too much work or other issues). It was unfortunate, since this printer could have produced the offset work (the 1,000-copy poetry book), the promotional letter and mailing, and the digital perfect-bound print book.

A third printer offered especially attractive pricing on the promotional mailing and the digitally printed book, but unfortunately they were high on the offset printed poetry book.

A fourth printer was expensive overall.

A fifth printer that focused exclusively on print books was the low bid for the offset-printed book of poetry. Fortunately they were not just lower but almost half the price of the next lowest bid. My guess was that they did not have to subcontract anything (they had all necessary equipment in house), and since they are in the Midwest, they may also have a lower pricing structure based on their local economy.

Then I updated the spreadsheet.

Next Steps

It is a truism that almost every bid from every printer includes a mistake, an omission from the RFQ, or a substitution, so I went through all bids again and again. Then I went through them again, comparing everything to the original specification sheets my client had approved. Each time I found something else, and so I made a list of questions for each vendor. Some of these had to do with paper substitutions (not a problem as long as the paper specs–such as the brightness, whiteness, opacity, caliper, etc.–matched my requested paper). Other issues had to do with missing specs (including the cost of inserting all elements of the promotional campaign in envelopes, for instance, but not including the cost of address inkjetting).

I sent email lists of questions to each vendor, and again I waited.

Then I incorporated the adjusted specs and/or adjusted pricing into my master spreadsheet, so I could still compare each vendor’s price (overall cost plus unit cost) to the other vendors’ prices. When all was said and done, and when I had checked everything twice more, I wrote to my client. I presented the pricing spreadsheet and a list of specifications the winning bidder had sent me for each job (so my client would see any changes in specs the printer had made before bidding). I also listed the changes I had found plus my reactions to everything (random thoughts, views about each printer’s strengths, response to any changes printers had made to the specs, etc.).

If my client shows interest in the pricing, I plan to have the printers send out printed samples for her to review.

What You Can Learn from This Case Study

This is a complex process. That said, it may be a process you yourself must engage in during your work day. Consider the following:

  1. Not all printers will bid on the same specs. Look for changes in size, paper specs, color, cover coating, etc.. Look for any omissions, such as omitted physical proofs or missing shipping costs. Make sure you have composed a detailed, complete specification sheet (review it multiple times) before approaching the printers for the initial bids. Then compare the spec sheet to all estimates multiple times. Remember that your printers will probably provide their own version of your specs in their bids. Also, each printer will list the specs in a slightly different way (different wording as well as—in some cases—specs slightly different from the ones you had submitted for the bid).
  2. Quality is better than quantity. Only get bids from printers you trust completely.
  3. Realize that for specialty work—such as newspapers—your printer may very well change the specs. He may have a newspaper press that prints only certain trim sizes (for tabloid or broadsheet work). So keep an open mind. He may also be able to position full color on only certain pages of a newspaper as well. You may need to sacrifice color and page format for price, or you may choose to pay more (at another vendor) for more options.
  4. Remember that price is only a starting point. It is very important that you like the printed samples and that you feel comfortable interacting (via email and phone) with the printer. After all, you need to know that the final printed product will meet your needs.
  5. If possible, with a new printer, start with a small job and then build up to larger, more complex jobs once you and the vendor trust each other and have a good working relationship.

Infographic: 8 Different Types of Color Printing For Businesses

Friday, August 7th, 2020

color printing

Have you ever come across an eye-catching banner outside a shop? What attracts your attention is not just the content, but the impact of color also. There are various options of color printing services that you can opt for. Banners are some of the most common types of promotional items used by businesses. Billboards can create a significant impact when created with perfection. Ensure that you opt for the right material to create a long-lasting impression. Book covers speak a lot about what they are about, about the authors and how people perceive them. Want to make brochures an identity of your brand? Ensure that they are printed using the finest quality of material. (more…)

Business Card Color Tips for First-Time Businesses

Friday, August 7th, 2020

Business Card

Designing business cards for your company can be fun, but it also involves making many important decisions. While some business owners don’t find the appearance of business cards a priority, it is actually more important than many might think. Not only is what information on the card is vital, but also the colors.


Commercial Printing: K&B Rapida 106 X–Offset Printing Is Still Alive

Monday, July 20th, 2020


I’m always pleased when I see, in an increasingly digital world, that offset commercial printing is still relevant. Interestingly enough, this is because OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) are paying attention to their customers’ needs for speed, economy, and quality.

I read a Koenig & Bauer press release this week about the new Rapida 106 X. This is a “high-performance sheetfed offset pres for the medium format 740 x 1060 mm.” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Translated into inches, this is a 29” x 41.73” press, large enough for efficient printing. (Longer multi-page press signatures mean fewer press runs, and larger press sheets allow for more large-format jobs, like flat pocket portfolios before their being folded and glued.)

But it’s not just the press-sheet size that makes the Rapida 106 X special. Here are the benefits that K&B notes in its press release.

Benefits of the K&B Rapida 106 X

“Shorter makeready times—faster into print” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Offset lithography has to compete with digital commercial printing to earn its share of customers. One way to do this is to minimize one of the major drawbacks of offset lithography: the long makeready process. K&B has achieved this goal on the Rapida 106 X. This press can perform “simultaneous plate changes in less than a minute with unbent and process-free plates” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). This means that the Rapida can perform parallel, autonomous makeready processes, not only within a job but between jobs, doing the plate changes without operator intervention. All the pressman has to do is monitor the process via the digital interface. If he tried to make these plate changes by hand, it would actually take much longer.

What This Means

The K&B press release uses a 350-sheet job to illustrate the point. Normally, a job this short would go on a digital press (toner-based or inkjet). But what if you need the slightly higher quality of offset lithography? Or maybe you need precise PMS colors instead of 4CP process match colors. You could still do the job efficiently on the Rapida 106 X, even factoring in multiple plate changes (removing the old plates and loading the new ones automatically during the press run).

“Higher speed—even faster in production”
(K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). One of the main benefits of offset lithography is that it’s fast. Once you put the time in up front to set up the process, the 18,000 to 20,000 sheets-per-hour commercial printing speed will outpace even the fastest of the larger-format digital laser or inkjet presses. In this case, the Rapida 106 X will not only print up to 20,000 29” x 41.73” sheets per hour, but it will do this in perfecting mode (printing both sides of the press sheet simultaneously, which usually slows down overall throughput).

What This Means

When you’re perfecting a print job, you don’t have to bring the pile of finished press sheets (printed on one side) around to the front of the press (once the ink has had time to dry) and send all of the sheets back through the press to print the other side of all press sheets (called “backing up” the sheets).

In addition, the digital interface (such as K&B’s Job Optimizer) links all processes (prepress and press functions) based on “technological or press-related considerations” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). The press electronically chooses the best workflow (order of jobs based on press form size, sheet size and format, paper weight and surface coating, etc.). According to K&B, this can shorten make-ready times by an additional 30 to 50 percent. Moreover, by closely and instantly tracking all operations, managers can precisely measure the exact cost of all processes.

“Reliable processes—stable in production” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Quality is everything. Speed by itself isn’t good enough. Using cameras (either one for straight-line printing or two for perfecting) on press, the K&B Rapida 106 X can accurately control color, instantaneously and continuously monitor the press sheets, and compare the press sheets with prepress PDF files (via QualiTronic PDFCheck or QualiTronic PDF HighRes). The Rapida 106 X uses QualiTronic ColorControl to read ink densities on every sheet (as opposed to every 10 sheets, or whatever other number had been chosen, as was the case when I was doing press inspections in the 1990s). The software can check the color bars on each sheet and make adjustments every ten sheets. When getting the press “up to color” (i.e., getting the color densities exactly right), the press scans and registers the good sheets and then compares all subsequent sheets to this target. It can scan the sheets at either 100dpi or 290dpi (using additional cameras), so any variance between the press-ready PDFs and the press output can be corrected immediately.

What This Means

When the flaws show up immediately, and the corrections are made automatically, the whole process goes much faster. The K&B Rapida 106 X comes up to color much faster than prior presses, and the number of waste sheets used in the process drops to between 25 and 50 sheets. (And on a completely different note, this process monitoring can be done remotely on a mobile device using the Rapida LiveApps ErgoTronicApp.)

“Less maintenance—more time in production” (K&B press release, “Koenig & Bauer Introduces the Rapida 106 X for Industrial Printing”). Since all performance data is logged in real time, the Rapida 106 X makes maintenance and repair much easier. More specifically, before a repair is scheduled, the log can be accessed remotely (along with photos, videos, and audio files), and many problems can be resolved from a distance.

What This Means

All of this means less downtime. When the press is running, the printer makes more money, and the clients get their jobs on time. Moreover, using artificial intelligence along with camera footage from the press, operators and maintenance engineers can analyze trends and identify faults in the operation in real time, while keeping the presses running.

Why It’s Good That We Still Have Offset Custom Printing

Ultimately, time equals money. If you’re producing a short-run, simple job, you’re going to choose digital commercial printing. This will involve either laser or inkjet technology. The quality level is now extremely high, particularly when compared to what it was when I was an art director in the 1990s.

That said, if you’re producing a long-run print job, then an offset press that can print up to 20,000 sheets per hour (with, perhaps, a 16-page press signature of a book being imaged on each press sheet) is a blessing. The job flies through the press. And the more you print, the less each copy costs. It can’t be beat.

You can also print on a much greater variety of press sheets with a greater variety of press finishes.

Or maybe you want to print a metallic ink. Or maybe you have specific corporate colors that you need to match with PMS inks. Offset lithogaphy is your best choice in both cases.

Finally, as good as digital printing has gotten, in my own humble opinion, the detail and color accuracy of offset lithography just can’t be beat.

So all of the artificial intelligence, camera-monitoring, trend analysis, and automated workflow and plate management additions K&B has introduced to the Rapida 106 X have leveled the playing field, allowing you to choose either offset or digital technology for even a short press run.


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