Saturday, 23 November 2013

Commercial Costings

I have realy struggled to find information on commercial costings as when I look on printers websites they simply state to get in touch for quotes as most quote on specific jobs rather than having set price lists.

I did however find some general information on costs of printing and comparing processes in terms of cost.

I found this article that discussed the advantages on inkjet printing, I have included the parts of this that related to the cost. However, I think quality should definitely be considered along with this as I know that other processes may be more expensive but offer a higher quality of print.

Increased efficiency. Reduced production costs
- With inkjet printing, ink is only placed where you want it and there is very little wastage in production – especially important with high value materials. Additive processing means there is no need for additional process steps to remove unwanted material.
Zero setup costs. Cost-effective short runs
- With digital printing, starting a new job requires no setup beyond loading the new image file – no rollers or screens need to be created. There is also no need to waste substrates and inks during setup, making printing of short runs very cost effective.

I found another useful article that discusses and compares digital printing and offset printing. I read this and selected the parts that are relevant to the cost of printing. 

Advantages of Digital
Shorter turnaround.
Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during press run.
Cheaper low volume printing. While the unit cost of each piece may be higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are included digital printing provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs.

Advantages of Offset

The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up.

Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs. While today’s digital presses are close to the cost/benefit ratio of offset for high quality work, they are not yet able to compete with the volume an offset press can produce.

Again I think quality should be thought about, I think when you are considering print processes you should consider what the final product will be used for and how long you want it to last, the way you want it to communicate, etc. and consider costs on top of this. If you are printing 1000 leaflets that are probably going to be kept for a couple of hours it would be better to loose some quality and pay less.

I found another interesting online source discussing digital and offset printing.
A digital printing workflow has several advantages over offset printing in terms of cost. For example, digital prepress costs are usually lower than conventional prepress because the digital workflow eliminates many of the manual operations of conventional prepress. With digital printing, there is no need for steps such as process photography, manual stripping, and platemaking, although preparing print applications on the computer and processing them through the RIP may still be time consuming.
In terms of print output for the shortest runs, digital printing has a definite advantage over offset printing because there is no extensive setup required in preparing the press for the print run. Conventional offset presses require a lengthy make ready time, which adds a considerable cost to the total price of a short run application, therefore the cost per piece is much higher for the smallest print runs. When using offset printing, as the quantity increases, the price per piece decreases. When the quantity is large enough, the price per piece is lower than a digitally printed job of the same quantity.

-  I recognize some of what was discussed here from the Evolution Print talk.

The point at which it becomes more cost effective to use the traditional offset printing process may vary substantially, depending upon the application. In fact, when determining a cutoff level in which digital printing is a better choice than offset, you must consider the type of application that is being printed. Except for the smallest press runs, it is difficult to compete with offset printing costs when, for example, the job is a static, single sided document, in a quantity of 1,000 or more. However, if the application is a multiple page, full-color report or brochure, in a quantity of 500 or less, then digital printing is often the best choice. A similar job would be very expensive when using conventional offset printing because of the initial make ready time and the large number of plate changes that would be required. If a print project is a variable data application, digital printing is really the only printing process to consider.

Again this links to how you should consider what you are printing in terms of quantity and quality before deciding on a print process and then pick accordingly by thinking about what you want.

I found a useful site that gives a very brief summary of how effective different proccesses are. 

I didn't know a lot about lithograph printing until this module but I have since learnt a lot about it. This source explains the cost of litho printing and why it costs this much.

These days a printer creates a set of ‘plates’ which are used to press the image onto paper. There are initial costs involved in creating the plates and setting up the press. This means a litho job can be expensive and take time, but for large print runs it remains the most efficient process and also boasts superior quality and finish.


  • Most cost effective for large print runs (500+)
  • Unrivalled print quality
  • Most flexible in terms of printing stock, inks and finishes
  • Can print up to A1 size
Long turn around time
Expensive for short print runs

I wanted to look into screen printing costs as this is a method of print that at college is fairly cheap but I have no idea how much this would cost commercially. 

I found a website that gives some prices but doesn't seem the most professional printing service. 

This print process is most suited for medium to high volume.  Prices are per print.  Screen charges are free for 1 colour prints and £20 per colour thereafter when printing on our supplied garments.  Customer's own garments will be printed at the same price but are liable for a screen charge of £20 per colour, no matter how many colours printed

This doesn't make a lot of sense to me other than it is clear the more you order the cheaper each unit becomes.

But I remembered that there is actually a screen printing business where I live, so I went on there website to see if I could find any information or even arrange a visit. 

I found a list of all the printing processes they offer, they describe digital printing as cost effective but no other. 

Screenprint is a versatile process enabling us to produce graphics onto a variety of different substrates from paper and board to plastics, polyesters and metals. We can supply Point of Sale (i.e. hanging boards, shelf wobblers, posters display cards etc.) PVC banners, Estate Agent boards, control panels and self adhesive products.

Digital Print
A cost effective solution for short run photographic quality prints. We can produce prints on a variety of different materials, including self adhesives, banner PVC, art canvas and posters. 

Pad Printing
A versatile method of printing primarily used on three dimensional products, it has the advantage of coping with irregular surfaces i.e. cylindrical, concave and convex. It is ideal for decorating promotional products, plastic and metal components.

Garments Printing
This is an extension of our screen print facility, with a six colour carousel and heat transfer press we can supply a range of t-shirts, sweatshirts, work wear etc. from small to large quantities

Sign Making
Our sign making facilities include vinyl cutting and digital printing machinery, suitable for producing both interior and exterior signage. Applications can include exhibition graphics to vehicle livery. We can also supply a range of bespoke signs.

'Hi, I am a graphic design student from Leeds College of Art and was wondering if it would be at all possible for me and a few other students to come and visit you? We are extremely keen to learn about the printing process and how such jobs are turned around commercially. Thank you '

I hope to hear back soon as this would be a great way to find out about commercial print and hopefully he wouldn't mind us asking about commercial costings as it is so difficult to find anything online. 

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