Don’t Go Broke at the Printers - How to Save Money at the Print Shop

Don't Go Broke at the Printers - How to Save Money at the Printers
Photo by Phoney Nickle

Don’t Go Broke at the Printers - How to Save Money at the Print Shop

Find out ways to save yourself money the next time you go on over to the print shop to get one of your graphic design projects printed out. The more you can do in house before sending a project to a printer, the more money you can save on the printing cost. Below I have shared some secret tips with you to save some of your precious money at the commercial printers.

1) Complete the project. In other words, get the project camera-ready so all the printer has to do is shoot a negative, burn a plate, load the press and print. (See Chapter Printing Problems for an explanation of these.) If the printer has to make any adjustments to your file, you can expect to pay for these.

2) Shoot your own negatives. Not everyone has the huge camera needed to make printing negatives. Still if you plan to make a living doing graphic design, investing in a graphic arts large-frame camera and darkroom could be a wise idea. By large-frame camera, I mean one capable of holding a negative about a yard long. You’ll also have to have a darkroom, chemicals and developing trays.

3) Burn your own plates. (See Chapter Printing Problems for definition of burning plates). However, you’ll need to be sure your plate is the size the printer needs. If the plate is too big, it can be trimmed. If the plate is too small, it will have to be junked. Also, if you burn your own plates, leave them completely flat. Let the printer make his own crimps in the plate to attach it to the press. Come plates can be burned on a large-frame camera. Some plates require a specialized plates-only camera because of lighting requirements.

4) Use standard-stock paper. This generally means white paper cut to letter or legal size in the US or country-standard size elsewhere on the globe. Use standard envelopes, postcards, business card stock for these projects. Every time you order a special color of paper, you increase the price. Every time you order a different trim on the paper, say 7 inches by 9 inches, you increase the price because the printer will have to cut these sheets. Understand also that the thicker a paper is, the more it will cost per sheet.

5) Limit colors as much as possible. The more inks a printer has to use, the more expense he has to go to. This will be passed along to you. More inks also mean more spoils (See Chapter Printing Problems for spoils definition) because the press must be aligned properly to make sure each different color ink plate is lined up properly. This cost too will be passed along.

6) Buy bulk. If you know you have a lot of projects coming which will use a non-standard grade of paper, ask the printer if he will stock up. He may ask for some purchase guarantees from you to insure his cost will be covered. But, the printer should realize some savings in buying in large quantities and you are within your rights to ask for some savings as well.

7) Supply your own paper. If you have a project that calls for a REALLY oddball paper, consider buying the paper yourself and supplying it to the printer. In general supplying paper to a printer is not a good idea because it cuts into his profit margin (which is typically slim just on the cost of paper). But the printer may appreciate you supplying the paper in extremely unusual circumstances. Just be sure to ask ahead of time to make sure the printer is capable of handling the paper you supply. Stationery or special events are be a common situations where unusual paper is needed, especially where an unusual or irregular trim is needed. Invitations are great examples of this. Say you have a customer planning an open house for a new industry and wants 5000 identical letters to mail to announce the open house. You can order 5000 sheets of paper cut in the shape of the building or the company logo. Then, develop the letter to go on the sheets. Send the custom-cut paper and your design to the printer, after making sure the printer can use the unusual-shaped sheets. Many times brochures are often cut to unusual shapes to
get more attention.

8) Get an annual contract. If you know you will have X amount of printing in a year’s time, approach a printer and explain this. Tell the printer you will guarantee him X amount of business in exchange for a discount on the total printing bill.

9) Pay immediately instead of Net-30. Many businesses offer a small discount for customers who pay up front or immediately upon receiving the merchandise. That’s because they avoid the expense of sending customers a bill.

10) Shop around. If you have more than one print shop in your local area, ask for bids for the the print job.

11) If possible, look online for a printer out of town. But, while this can be cheaper, you do lose some control over the project and you will have to pay shipping costs.

12) Deliver your project yourself and pick up the finished product yourself. In addition to saving some shipping and handling fees, you can probably charge your client a delivery fee if you deliver it to them.

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[tags]save money printing, save money printers, print shop, printing process, commercial printing process, commercial printers, commercial printing, printers for designers, printing for designers, printing process for designers, graphic design, design tips, graphic design tips, printing tips, common printing problems, printing problems[/tags]

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2 Comments

  1. Mac
    Posted July 28, 2009 at 5:31 pm | Permalink

    Try this company for you offset printing that I use, very cheap but high quality. I know everyone is trying to save a buck. I have used them for like a 2 months and had no problems. Also they will work with you if you do lots of printing, like the article mentioned. Here is the companies info good luck.

    K2 Print Studio
    http://www.k2printstudio.com

  2. Richard Smoker
    Posted November 10, 2009 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    If you plan on making a “living doing graphic design”, I can guarantee you that investing in film equipment and a darkroom to “shoot your own negatives” is about 10 years out of date. Better use of money: take a course on how to use industry-standard software like InDesign, QuarkXpress, etc.

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    Guide to Saving Money at the Printers…

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    Guide to Saving Money at the Printers…

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    Guide to Saving Money at the Printers…

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