Is My Project Too Small for a Commercial Press?

Price will always be a large reason to make any decision, and printing is no exception. One of the ways you can get your costs down when using a commercial printer is to print in large volumes. Because the more you print the lower the cost per piece. But what if you have a small printing job? Is there an amount that is too small for a commercial printer to do? The short answer to this question is no, a commercial printer will print one piece for you if that is what you need, but the cost of that one piece might be more than you can bare. The reality is there are many factors that will play an important role in whether or not you should use a commercial printer.

Like with just about everything else in life you can get a discount by buying in bulk. The more you want printed the lower your price per piece will become. In reality with most commercial printers you can get nearly 1000 pieces printed for almost the same price as 50. Some of the reasons for this are, the cost of starting up a large press is substantial, and getting colors correct is more difficult on short runs, leading to a higher percentage of waste.

Starting the Press

Commercial multi color presses do not work the same way as your home or office printer. For a large scale commercial printer there are plates that need to be made and put on rollers in the press. If you want a full color image there are four colors used, cyan, magenta, yellow and black, or CMYK. This means you need to have four plates made. If you want to print front and back you may need to have eight plates made. The cost of making the plates is the same no matter how large or small your project is. This fixed cost might only add up to a few pennies per piece on a large run, but if you are printing just a few hundred it will make a substantial difference.

Getting the Press Up to Color

After the plates are placed on the press you need to get the colors right. Ink is added by each plate in percentages and it has to be fine tuned in order to get the colors correct. In order to do this there are sheets of paper run as a test to check the color. These pages will not be used in the final project, but are still part of the expense of printing. In most press runs there are roughly 500 sheets of paper that are used to get the press color right. 500 sheets is a small percentage when printing 10,000, but not when you need 100.

Where Can I Print My Small Project?

So you want to print a few hundred flyers, and you don’t have space to store an extra couple thousand. You still have options. Many commercial also offer digital printing. Printing digitally is somewhat like using your home printer, but on a faster, and larger scale. It offers a great price point for smaller runs, and can get the job done much faster. It does have some limitations when it comes to color choice, and other finishing options that you might be looking for. But, if you need anything to print less than 1000 pieces or so, digital printing is your best option.






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