There are always print companies to be found on-line who can give much cheaper prices for printing literature and media .So what’s the difference and why should you bother using more expensive companies?
The answer is really to do with quality of service and how important your print is to you.
First it has to be understood how a printed brochure/leaflet is produced.
Up until 10 years, or so, ago, most commercial print was done by ‘offset litho’, or 4 colour printing. This meant that all the images on a printed item were created by using only four colours of ink to produce the desired colours, Cyan Magenta, Yellow and Black, CMYK. Each of the four colours had to be printed as a screen of dots (from plates) and the mixture and density of those dots in each colour built up into the final product we all take for granted.
Each colour screen had to be positioned in exactly the correct place or ‘registered’ . If they were not set up correctly and watched throughout the print run the effect produced would be more like the 3D (acid) effect that you often see in newspapers. Set-up times and plates/screens added to the cost of printing and the price could easily mount up making small runs very uneconomical.
However Digital printing has changed the industry since then with cheaper set up costs – no plates are used. The process can really best be described as a very high quality photocopy. Digital print makes smaller quantities more economical and more affordable in many ways and when the quality is good. Digital print used to have a poor reputation but now it is as good as litho and often offers a better alternative depending on what you want to achieve.
To make litho print more affordable and cheaper, commercial printers will ‘gang’ up business cards and leaflets to print in bulk. This makes the overall set up charges cheaper. This is great for run-of-the-mill jobs but quality can suffer and colour adjustment is not possible when so many jobs are running at the same time. If one business card is predominantly dark, a lighter coloured card can be slightly compromised. When printing one specific job at a time the control over the ink saturation is considerably more precise.
If colour is important, ‘ganging up’ is not a good idea.
Big brands, and small, are very touchy about the consistency of their appearance in print. You will never see a variation in a coke can red – the specification is written in stone.
Matching printed literature can be a Printer’s nightmare.
Different makes of paper, different weights and different coatings will all slightly vary in ‘white’. This affects the final printed result, sometimes drastically, unless adjustments have been made. This service is not widely available when purchasing from an online printer and the kind of benefit you get from paying that bit more.
Much of the printed literature a business may require is rarely seen together but the beauty of a printed folder with matching brochures and inserts is ruined if one item does not match. Placing all items that will be packaged together with the same printer can avoid these problems. With careful briefing and a good understanding of what is required the printer can produce excellent results within reason!
Many good Printers have been described by appreciative clients as ‘Life Savers!’…
A very stupid error, like a misspelled month on the front of a catalogue noticed before going to print will probably have saved a designer/marketing exec from becoming part of the unemployment statistics!
If you talk to a printer about the print-ready files he receives he will probably throw his hands in the air and swear. More frequently than not the files received are far from ‘print-ready’. Poorly set up with little idea about the proper format, or the need for bleed or crop marks. They will also be saved in RGB rather than CMYK colour profiles in a size only suitable for web. A good printer will inform you that the results will not be as you expect, a good printer will offer to correct or return them. In other cases the file will be printed, the responsibility laying with the customer and it will be far too late and a very costly experience.
As ever you get what you pay for.
In many cases cheaper, bulk print is adequate and good enough for most requirements. However when colour and quality is crucial spending that bit extra on a good reputable Commercial printer will be worth it.
It may just save the hair on your head or your job.
In actual fact it is far more likely to produce some great literature which will impress your clients and increase your leads and sales.
Being ‘The Customer’ has many benefits from being just ‘one of the customers’!