Re: Press (printing) Options

Subject: Re: Press (printing) Options
From: David Neeley <dbneeley -at- gmail -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 2004 14:49:27 -0500

The cost comparison isn't quite so cut and dried, I'm afraid. Like
everything else today, it changes with advances in one or the other
area of technology.

For example, much depends upon the pre-press steps of preparing the
original masters. In addition, it depends entirely upon the printers
involved--there are huge variations in what a particular print shop is
set up to do in a cost-effective manner. Since printing technology is
essentially a manufacturing business, just as in any other
manufacturing business you can equip and set up a shop that is more
efficient with short-run jobs or one that is more effective with
longer runs.

In addition, the kind of press used will have a large impact. As
someone mentioned, a web press may be excellent for long-run printing
while the majority of people on this list are dealing with runs that
would either be produced using sheet-fed offset or Xerography.

There are *many* other variables as well. For example, the size of the
impression that a press makes will dictate how many pages are printed
in one pass--and how intricately the pages must be arranged for proper
printing (a process called "imposition"). With a larger press that can
print more pages in one pass, the prepress complexity is at some point
offset by the increased efficiency...and, again, that will depend upon
the press, the material, and the job specifications.

Another factor that may be significant is what other pieces you will
need to print. Is the software to be "shrink-wrapped" in a printed box
with both the manual and, usually, some auxiliary documents included
with the media? Does the printer have the binding capability in-house,
or does he farm it out to a binder (with an appropriate markup on his

Printed boxes are often done with yet a different
process--flexography--especially when the volume is to be high. Thus,
a particular project may be produced in a variety of places at
once--depending upon the part of the project--and combined and packed
at yet another specialist--the "fulfillment house." Such a place may
also warehouse and ship the packages on your order so that these
chores need not be done in-house.

One project I did had a very tiny "manual" that we produced as a jewel
case insert of about 40 pages. That was nice, because the manual
itself had a color cover that formed the visible cover of the media.
In that case, the "manual" was actually the installation guide and a
command reference card was the back cover. The more substantial
documentation was all in Acrobat form on the CD along with the
software product.

Many years ago, I worked for nearly two years as a print broker--and
it's interesting to watch the developments on all sides of the market.
Today, I would have to analyze a job fairly carefully before
determining the best combination of technologies to use. As I
mentioned before, I would tend today to go the direction of a POD for
printed copies of manuals and with Acrobat files on the Web and/or on
any media delivered to the customer wherever this might be a good fit.

Meanwhile, where a breakpoint might be concerning volume requirements
is much more involved than simply determing the printing costs at a
given volume. For example, how much lead time will you have from the
last changes to the docs and when they must appear in print? What is
the likelihood that slipstream upgrades or bug fixes will be required
that may change manual details during the life of the product? How
well set up are you to warehouse and ship large quantities of manuals?
And finally, if you are shopping the job effectively, you may find
much better deals than you can find locally by widening your area of
search. (It isn't for nothing that some of the big guys are printing
long-run docs in Singapore!).



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RE: Press (printing) Options: From: mlist
Re: Press (printing) Options: From: TechComm Dood

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