SIZE – We recently received a file from a customer at 3pm on a Friday afternoon. The customer needed 5 copies of a brochure for a client meeting on Monday. The art for the brochure had been created as a 22” x 11” document and was to be tri-folded to 8.5 x 11 with the third panel being only 5”wide. It was a well-designed piece, looked professional and our customer was very proud of it. The problem is that most digital printing equipment has a maximum sheet size of 13” x 19”. Some digital presses can print up to 14” x 20”, but that still would not have been large enough for this project.
QUANTITY – Quantity will most likely determine how most marketing collateral will be printed; Digital or Offset. The quality of digital v. offset today is almost negligible. The output of a production level digital printing device is equal to most offset presses. Offset presses can handle much larger sheet size, i.e. a 40” press will print on a 26” x 40” sheet. However, a large offset press requires a printing plate, set-up, etc. Commercial printers will tell you the minimum cost for a press run is ~$500, just to get the press started. This high initial cost is typically spread out over long runs and since there is no “click cost” like a digital press, there can be significant cost saving on a press for long production runs – typically 5,000-10,000 pieces depending on document size, etc. A digital press requires no plate, no set up, and can print small quantities. However, a digital press can be more costly for long runs over 10,000 pieces because of the click cost for each impression.
The point of all this is: before you begin the design of your marketing collateral, consider what quantity you will need to be printed. If your quantity does not justify a large commercial printing press, make sure the size will fit the digital press it will be printed on. And understand what the turnaround time will be. Offset presses can have longer production times because of the set-up process. Jobs can usually be produced quicker on a digital press.