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Printing Newbie

Discussion in 'Printing & Print Design Forum:' started by gmcl89, Feb 17, 2014.

  1. gmcl89

    gmcl89 New Member


    I currently run a small advertising booklet and I am hoping to expand in the coming months. I have been thinking of printing my own booklets which would save me alot of money. I am aware that's alot easier said than done.

    I was hoping I could get some advice on which printer am I best to buy?, will I be able to hire someone to train me on how to use it etc.

    I've just started looking into this so don't really know much about & if it's even possible.

    The booklet I run is 20'000 copies & 36 pages, as I said I will be increasing this number in the near future.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.


  2. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Any digital printing device you buy for this will cost you an arm and a leg! You mostly rent them and they charge by impressions, plus they won't hold that many pages, possibly max 2000. Then it needs a finishing end, and that costs money, to fold, trim stack etc. Plus you need to buy and stock the paper. You will spend more money on digitally printing this yourself than you would on getting a professional printers to lithographically print it.

    That being said, you could buy a lithographic printing press. You would need all the chemicals used to clean machine, plus a safe disposal (you can't use the sink). Maintenance contract.

    You would need a computer to impose the finished booklet, that is setting it up to print in printers pairs. Knowledge of impositions. Software and computer maintenance costs.

    You would need a machine for making the plates, either with film or direct to plate. More maintenance contracts.
    Or you could save money on this equipment by outsourcing the plates to be made.

    Folding machines, you'd need a Muller or similar to fold and stitch the booklets, more maintenance contracts.

    Industrial guillotines to trim the paper.

    Plus you need staff to man all these things mentioned above.

    To be honest - it's not worth it if all you have is 1 booklet to print.

    Your cheaper alternative is to find a new printer that can help save on costs. Best to email a few and get competitive quotes.

    If you're expanding then consider increasing your advertising costs (or introduce advertising) into the booklet and have paid for that way. Most people offset the price of the printing with adverts. Look up ad rates on google.
    gmcl89 likes this.
  3. bigdave

    bigdave Moderator Staff Member

    The only cost effective way to print that many books is to use a litho press, which requires an investment well into 6 figures, maybe even 7 by the time you've bought a plate maker, guillotine as well as the required collating and finishing machinery. Then there's the cost of new premises to house all of this stuff AND the cost of employing people to run all of the gear, for 2 or 3 years whilst you learn the trade (being a great printer isn't something you can learn in a few hours).

    I've been working on these advertising publications for the last 6 odd years, distributing to between 200,000 & 250,000 letter boxes a month and I would say forget buying a printer! It will ruin your business model and leave you bankrupt. If you have a reasonable amount of capital to invest into your business, look at different ways of getting your publication out there through web, apps etc.. and add value to your brand!

    If you want to cut costs, look at the paper weight you're printing on compared to the competition. Most advertising publications are on a cheap, low weight stock with a slightly higher weighted cover. If you can bulk up your pagination to 48 pages, start speaking to web-printers such as Yorkshire Web or Acorn Web (I'm sure there are hundreds more but they're the first ones that come to mind).

    On a side note, where abouts in the country are you based?
    gmcl89 likes this.
  4. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    Cutting paper weight down is not the only way to save on costs.

    You could also consider resizing your publication. I resized our magazine from

    190mm x 260 mm


    190mm x 250mm

    And that took 10 grand off our yearly bill.
    gmcl89 likes this.
  5. gmcl89

    gmcl89 New Member

    I agree it's not really worth it after reading this, I've been a bit naive thinking it would have been easier.

    This info has been a great help and I will look into other means to cost cost.

    Thank You
  6. gmcl89

    gmcl89 New Member

    Yes I have to agree, from what I have learned the past couple of days it's really not worth it.

    I will most definitely look into the other means to save you have suggested.

    I am based in Glasgow, Scotland.

    Thanks for your help
  7. hankscorpio

    hankscorpio Moderator Staff Member

    For anyone else reading this:

    Stage 1
    Content written, images decided (takes time)
    Graphically Designed to Print Spec (takes time)
    Sent to printers to print

    Stage 2
    Job details examined by an Estimator
    Quote is generated for the Job

    Stage 3 The Stage Most People Don't See
    Printers have artwork room - File is processed by an Artworker
    File internally proofed digitally on paper through RIP system (RIP = Raster Image Processor and costs a lot of money) - Takes Time
    Changes noted by Qualified Proofreader
    Changes confirmed by client
    Changes input by Artworker
    Final Proof sent to client

    Proceed to Press

    Stage 4
    File is impositioned by a qualified person in Impositions using software (usually PREPS which is expensive but there are cheaper not as robust options)
    Output is straight to plate (not many places use film then plate anymore)
    Note: when files where produced through film, you needed a UV light and darkroom to transfer the image onto emulsified plate, this was an additional stage, plates need be washed and gummed, but before that you needed someone who could align all the film on to the plate and process it
    Plates are checked by a qualified person who runs the Plate Making Machine
    Plates are prepared and punched (some machines have automatic punching (like me) by this person who alights them to the printing room.

    Stage 5
    Plates are in 4's for full colour work, Cyan Plate, Magenta Plate, Yellow Plate, Black Plate. Each plate costs about £25 (might be a bit off been a while since I priced an individual or set of 4 -usually bought in bulk and stored in a dark room)

    These are mounted on the printing machine by the "Press Man/Woman" - who then has to "makeready" the press machine, adjust for paper, humidity, ink wells, drying time, machine speed etc. and finally a colour press proof for the floor manager to examine in detail with a loupe (magnifying glass) to make sure the dots are perfect (yes dots!)

    Once approved, which takes about 30 minutes (running up a £300 bill in that 30 minutes - yes machine time is expensive!), it is then set in motion. Usually for print runs it can be put on a 4 colour machine with perfecting (which means it prints both sides of sheet at the same time, and some places have 4, 8, 10, 12, 16 or 20 plate sections on their printing machine. Depending on the print run, you wouldn't put a Dl Leaflet of 10,000 on a B1 Printing Press with 20 plate sections. the job would be printed in about 1 minute. So that would be 30 minutes for makeready (£300 or more and then +1 minute just for that. It's more likely it would be put on a smaller printing machine with even 2 drums (plate sections) which would cost about £100 for the machine time. Alleviating your costs. But remember, if you have a print run of 1,000,000 and are thinking of saving a few bucks going a smaller machine you are incorrect. It would take much longer to print 1,000,000 full colour brochures on a 2 colour machine.

    Anyway - once it's printed

    Stage 6
    It now needs to be trimmed to it's appropriate size.

    A guillotine operator would then stack all the sheets and trim them as specified by the floor manager or by the Finishing Staff.

    Stage 7
    Folding Department -

    It needs to be folded, either as saddle stitch for books up to 60 - 90 pages

    Or it needs to perfect bound, for books that will have spines.

    Either that or it's a flyer, or a poster or a dl leaflet - it needs to be trimmed, folded, and stapled etc.

    Stage 8

    It's packaged and delivered to the customer.

    Not only are there about 7 (possibly more) stages to getting the job from start to finish. There's a lot of people in the mix too.

    Stage 1 - this is you and you make these decisions and work on this - that's a lot of your time and money.

    Stage 2 - Involves 2 People: Sales Rep and an Estimator

    Stage 3 - involves at least 3 people, Artworker, Proofreader and Manager

    Stage 4 - Involves someone running impositions, and someone making plates - 2 more people

    Stage 5 - Involves Press Men/Women usually big printing presses are run by 2 people

    Stage 6 - Guilotine operator (another person)

    Stage 7 - Folding department - usually run by 2 or more people

    Stage 8 - Need to be packaged, shrinkwrapped, boxed or other

    Not only are there about 14 people in the mix on this (there's a lot more by the way)

    There's also all that machinery

    Expertise of people running machines Or each stage of the process (4 years qualifying and years of experience)

    There's also running costs of keeping a dark room, maintenace costs etc.

    The list is endless.

    When you think about it - you get a pretty good deal when you go to the printers.

    Years of expert qualified hands tending to your every need.

    Just don't ask for that job tomorrow lol
    Stationery Direct likes this.
  8. dan01

    dan01 New Member

    Would you like a chat to discuss?

    Hi there,

    I supply and support digital printing equipment, I wouldn't mind having a chat with you about this if you would still like some options for producing the booklets in house. Alternatively I can point you in the direction of a few of my production print customers who should be able to offer you good rates.
    I too am Glasgow based, be happy to help PM me if interested.
  9. jeremyjefferson

    jeremyjefferson New Member

    It's very tough when you realise why there's so much competition; the real money is made on the many consumables your business will be purchasing to maintain that new printer purchase. What might seem affordable costs at first can soon increase over time.

    Even the modest of offices will likely be networked and sharing a resource as useful as a printer is essential. So, you should only be looking at printers that are capable of networked functions. Wired offers speed and robust function for a fixed office. Wireless is flexible, cheap to deploy but not as fast when in use.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015

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