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Commercial Printing: Pros & Cons

Probably, at least once in your lifetime, you were faced with the dilemma of choosing between printing on your own or going to a commercial printing contractor?

Well the answer to this question depends on what exactly you wish to print. Obviously, commercial printing has its ups and downs, so you should know them before making a decision.

Pros

  • Versatility. One of the most used applications of commercial, large-scale printing is producing marketing materials. But, for such projects, most clients want some specific customizations: embossed or engraved fonts and much more. These are, obviously, difficult to get from your desktop printer, but printing labs have a wide variety of equipment, to cope with any such demands.
  • Various sizes. A desktop printer is quite limited regarding the size of the paper sheets it can print on. For large posters, printing them on your own is usually not possible. Commercial printing companies have devices able to print sheets of all sizes. From business cards to posters and even banners, anything is possible.
  • Paper quality. When printing on your own, you are quite limited to the few paper types available at local suppliers. Commercial printers have a much wider supplying network, so they can offer you higher-quality paper or even special paper types.
  • Ink quality. If you own an inkjet desktop printer, you have probably noticed that the ink used is quite sensitive to water. If the printed material gets wet, the ink will quickly dissolve and run away. Who would want a blurry advertisement for his company? But professional printing companies use only waterproof ink. Furthermore, the ink quality is usually higher, so the image will look much better. And, let’s not forget the environment. Most commercial printers use environmentally friendly inks.
  • Design help. Often, you know exactly what you want to print. But, sometimes, your creativity can be challenged. If you have some trouble trying to set up an advertising poster, do not worry! Many printing companies have their own designers that may give you some help. If you know what you want to communicate, the design team will gladly offer you several ideas to choose from. Obviously, that comes with some additional costs, but you can be sure that your print will look good.
  • Lower cost-per-unit. Obviously, for printing a few sheets, the costs are lower if you do it on your own, since the only costs are the consumed paper and ink, with no markup. But, for high-volume printing, things are totally different. The more you print with a commercial printer, the lower the cost-per-unit is.

Cons

  • Minimum quantity. Most commercial printers have a minimum print run. This minimum run might be more than you or your company needs or affords to print. In such cases, printing on your own might be more affordable.
  • Printing time. A commercial printer has to deal with many orders, other than yours. This means that getting the job done takes some time. When you know in advance that you need those items printed, planning ahead and waiting are no problem. But, if you need the job done really fast, you have to either pay an extra fee or choose home/office printing as the only solution that fully meets your schedule.
  • Little feedback. When designing a certain material, printing, inspecting, changing, printing again and so on, are common operations. This is, obviously, less possible with commercial printing labs. You should go to commercial printers only after the material is 100% finished (unless you opt for their design advice, as mentioned above).

To summarize, unless you specifically need low-volume or fast printing, commercial printers are always the best option.

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