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What’s Your Minimum Order?

June 13, 2013

Funny story: Today I was talking to a print rep colleague, she was musing about a call from a new customer.
The conversation went like this:

Customer: What’s your minimum order?
Rep: $20 Cash.
Customer: What do I get for that?
Rep: You just spent it on that question…

Large chuckles all around. But seriously, this is a common question I get asked. The straight honest answer is; ONE.
But I really need to determine what kind of project that needs to be printed, in order to give a better answer. You can print ONE, but it might cost you the same as 500, depending on what print method we need to employ. Most printing methods are heavy on costs at the beginning, and get lighter as the run goes on. The more you run, the more copies can share on the expensive start-up costs. Sometimes doubling your print run will only increase your cost by 20-30%.
Here is a useful guideline for print quantities:

Digital Printing; usually good for 1-1000 copies.
Offset Printing; usually starting at 500 copies, but can go lower depending on the type and size of the project.
Web Offset Printing; Can go as low as 10,000, but more suitable for multi-page documents with saddle stich binding because the binding can be done in-line.

Here are some more guidelines for these types of printing:

  • Digital; Keep it to CMYK /Full colour printing, or just Black/White. Spot colours or metallics are not possible, but talk to us before you build a file with spot colours, there might be a good reason to leave them in the file.
  • Size limitations of up to 14×20″ for most better quality presses. Uncoated paper looks closer to offset printing. The dreaded ink shine comes mostly from               cheaper digital presses and gloss coated paper.
  • Better quality presses, like the ones we use, can run paper up to around 17pt thick.
  • Image registration is not as stable as Sheetfed Offset. Important if you want to add some specialty finishing at the end like diecutting/embossing.
  • Film lamination has trouble sticking to Digital printed sheets with heavy coverage.
  • Each sheet can be easily personalized with text or image changes.
  • Only flat sheets, no folded sheets like envelopes.
  • Sheetfed Offset; Can be spot colours, might be cheaper with CMYK/Full colour though depending on the project.
  • Size limitations of up to 29×41″, but we’ll only find maximum 28×40″ paper around town.
  • In North America, most printing presses and papers are based on a multiple of the standard letter size (8.5×11″)
  • Cool looking varnishes, gloss, matte, and my favourite satin are available. Even spot gloss can look great if you use it right.
  • Larger printing machines can handle very thick stock, even up to 40pt or more. It just gets kinda scary hearing those thick sheets clunk through the press.
  • Web Offset; Can be spot colours, might be cheaper with CMYK/Full colour though depending on the project.
  • Great for magazine type work, running on thin newsprint like paper.
  • Size limitations on page size. 8×10″ is fairly normal. Going larger can limit your options.
  • It’s easy to mix a Offset cover with Web Offset inside pages (or guts, as I like to call them).
  • Print quality of Web Offset can be lower quality than traditional sheetfed offset.

If you have any other questions about what type of printing is right for your project, give us a quick call. We can usually have you straightened out in a few minutes.

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