RE: Press (printing) Options

Subject: RE: Press (printing) Options
From: mlist -at- safenet-inc -dot- com
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 14:12:35 -0400

TechComm Dood

> Basically, in large runs (about 1000+ copies) a offset press will be
> your better cost printer. In short runs (less than 1000 copies) you're
> probably better off with a short-run or on-demand printer.

I'd raise that cut-off number.
Around 10,000 copies, offset web printing becomes really
economical for all concerned.

They'll DO just 1000 copies for you, but each copy will
cost ya. When they set up for a print run, the first few
hundred might be just the warm-up, to check alignment/register,
verify colors, etc.

That "wastage" becomes a non-issue when you are dealing
with thousands or tens-of-thousands of copies per print
run. You still get the best per-copy price. The cost for
the same page count in small quantities is generally much
higher, but you are paying for the flexibility to have
only a few copies on-hand and to change content on short

So, if you are documenting cars or consumer goods, you'll
want to look at offset. For anything to do with computers
and non-commodity technology, you are probably looking at
small-batch print-on-demand. As others have suggested, a
print broker is the person to see. They'll want to hear
numbers estimates. You'll need to know expected product
revision cycles, versus the numbers of each version that
will likely be sold. If your company is making something
that will be introduced and then sold in tens or hundreds
of thousands of units before the next product version, then
numbers are on your side. If it's a big-ticket product that
has a revision cycle every quarter and you only sell a few
dozen or a few hundred in that span, then you don't want
any manuals waiting on a shelf. They'll become outdated
garbage before Christmas.

There's a big jump in price between monochrome and color.
At the low-volume, laser-printer end (Docutech and such),
the color machines cost a lot more than the black-only
machines. They also use expensive, pre-cut sheet paper.
Similarly, for big offset web presses (the web is
continuous paper that is fed from giant rolls and cut
into sheets after printing), the muli-color presses are
more complex and more expensive to buy and to run.
So, the charges for printing on the color machines are
higher. Figure seven to ten times the price for a manual
with color pages versus only black'n'white pages.

Spot color (black print, plus a single color here and
there throughout) is the same cost as four-color when
done on small-batch laser equipment. That's because
laser printers make all their colors by mixing.
In other words, for print runs in the dozens or hundreds,
you want either black print only, or go nuts with full
color. There's no price point in between, thus no advantage
to using less than full color.

Spot printing becomes an economical option in offset
printing because there are two-color presses (black
plus one spot color), three-color presses (black plus
two spot colors) and so on, which are more expensive to
buy and run than single-ink presses, but much less
expensive than full-color presses that must do four,
six, or more colors in a single pass.

Kevin (Dad was a printer ... person, not device :-)


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