Thursday, March 5, 2015

Printing - Behind the Scene.

Difference between Digital and Litho printing and
why the big difference in pricing from printer to printer.

Over the years Fdesign has done thousands of print jobs.
We always try and give our clients a quality product that fits their needs and also their budget. The old classic conversation that usually starts with something like "WOW, Why are you guys soooo much cheaper than Zprint down the road... " and of course also the
" This is a rip off, last time you charged me so much less when I did a different job... " 
is something we have with our clients from time to time.

It is important to get more than one quote for a print job. Especially when you are printing thousands of an item or if your printing requires special finishing. The most important thing though is not to compare apples with meatballs. Not all printers are equal in all areas of printing. Even though most printers will offer all types of printing and finishing it is not to say that they do everything in-house. In fact there are only a hand full of printers in South Africa that does.

Digital printing
The most common form of printing that you get is digital printing. This is usually the method used by all your local print shops. The printer itself will typically be the size of a washing machine and on small runs they'll be able to print your job while you wait.
The quality of digital printing varies. The most common brands out there are Xerox and Minolta and they too offer a wide range of machines of which the quality might differ.

Why does 2 digital printing companies with the same machine give different prices on the same job?
Most print companies do not actually buy the printers that they use. They rent them from the suppliers.The deal they have with the supplier will vary. Sometimes it is a straight monthly rental and other times there will also be a "per click" price which means that the print company needs to pay a certain amount per print that they do. This once again varies depending on the deal that they have with the supplier.

Litho Printing

A litho printer is about as big as a small bus and you rarely see them standing around in commercial print shops. The printer around the corner will usually outsource their litho print jobs or have their own litho printer somewhere in a warehouse.

Whether the quality of litho prints are better than that of digital prints all depends on the sales person that you talk to... If they want to push litho jobs they will tell you that litho is definitely the way to go quality wise and the same goes for digital. In my opinion a good quality litho printer and a good quality digital printer can print the same quality product when it comes to standard full colour prints.

Litho printing will be used when doing larger print runs. The reason for this is that the main cost when doing litho printing is the setup cost. Print plates have to be made and the machine needs to be set up. Therefor it is not advisable for smaller print runs. But the cost per print is very low and therefor the unit cost drops drastically the more you print.

Digital printers will also give you a better price when you print more but their cost does not necessarily go down so the difference will not be that great.

Litho machines are also used where you need perfect registration on your prints.
This is usually needed when fine finishing like foiling etc will be done after printing.

 If you have a pantone colour as part of your corporate identity you will also have to make use of litho printing when printing anything with your logo or corporate colours on.
Although there are digital printers out there that claim that they can match up your pantone colour 100%, they usually cant.

Hopefully this will give you better insight on what goes on behind the scenes at your local printer.

For me the most important thing is great service and a quality product and for that I have no problem paying a little bit more from time to time. But that said, if the printer that I've been using charges me three times more than another printer down the road I have to asume that the type of printing I require is definitely not something that they specialise in.

- the guy