Monday, November 26, 2007


Everything these days, it seems, is digital. Your computer, your wristwatch, your camera, your radio, your cell phone, the guy in the next car using the cell phone… Well, maybe not. The point here, though, is that when you want to print marketing materials in quantity, there is a cost efficient difference between printing the traditional “offset” way, and printing “digital.”

Welcome to another edition Of Not Your Usual Marketing Tips from JDK Marketing Communications Management.

So you want to print a brochure. Or maybe one of those oversized post cards. Which way to go?

Let’s first go to the experts: PageWorks, an online commercial printer, explains that “Offset printing uses plates and inks to put an image onto paper. The ‘make ready’ (preparation) process of offset varies, but often requires 20-30 minutes to burn the plates, as well as time to mount, register the plates, and bring the output "up to color." It often takes an hour or more to print a single page. Once up and running, however, the economies and speed of offset printing for (projects) over 750 pages typically will be better than digital processes.

“Digital Printing uses a different technology altogether. It images typically with very fine toner. The time it takes to image the first page is usually well under a minute. This technology makes short runs, or runs from 1 to about 750 impressions less expensive, as well as quicker to produce than offset printing.”

The Penn State University website devoted to these matters points out that “quantity is currently the most important factor in choosing the best printing method. Digital printing generally has a fixed per-unit price. Whether you are printing one or 1,000 copies, you will generally pay close to the same price for each individual publication.

“Offset printing, however, is charged on a sliding scale -- the more you print, the less each publication will cost. Significant time is required to set up offset presses with plates, ink, and registration, so the first few copies are very expensive. But after the presses are set up and running, the price per publication for large quantities becomes much less expensive than digital.

“The point where offset printing becomes more economical than digital printing is not always clear. When printing only a few copies or when you want to print on demand, choose digital. When printing several thousand copies, offset is clearly the best choice. However, when quantities reach 1,000 copies, it is best to have your printer estimate both printing methods.”

Generally speaking, too, 4-color application is less expensive than it used to be. Talk to your printer about your options. Or…talk to yours truly. We’ll do a job on your printed marketing piece you can be proud of.

Joel Kweskin

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