How a half-inch printing change can cost you

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When designing a print job, there are scores of choices that could potentially impact the cost of the project. Finishing work, which is often overlooked but important to consider, can have unexpected fees associated with it when jobs don’t fit standard machines or otherwise require unique handling. Adding or subtracting as little as half an inch can make the difference between a job delivered at (or under) budget and a job that breaks the bank for your firm.

What is finishing?

Quite simply, finishing is anything that gets done to your print job once it comes off the press. Virtually all printed material needs some finishing work, which can include:

  • Varnishing – applying an additional coating, such as a gloss or UV coating, to the job
  • Trimming – cutting pages apart, trimming off the rough edges, etc.
  • Folding – brochures, folders, leaflets, and other jobs often need to be creased and/or folded to be “finished”
  • Binding – gathering the pages of a booklet together and stitching, wiro-binding or gluing them together

Some finishing work is simple, and can actually be done while the job is still effectively on the press. But other work, particularly folding and binding, requires special equipment that has particular tolerances. This is where things get tricky.

Mechanical finishing equipment

Now that we’re clear on what “finishing” is, the next step is to determine if there is on-site mechanical finishing equipment suitable for handling your job. If your project doesn’t match the finishing capacity at the printer you’ve chosen, it could be outsourced. When finishing work is outsourced, your print costs can go up dramatically. Hand-finishing can have knock-on costs, particularly where intricate folding and/or gluing is required.

Specialized finishing requirements

There are plenty of complex finishing options that can be completed with modern, specialized equipment. The trick to making the most of your printing budget is identifying which jobs are best suited to which commercial printing operations. When reviewing plant equipment options, be sure to focus on the specifications of their mechanical finishing devices. Take note of the maximum and minimum tolerances for:

  • Finish size – the size of your job once it is trimmed can have a huge impact on what equipment can be used to handle folding, binding, and packaging
  • Paper weight – this has an impact on folding and binding
  • Binding thickness – the thickness of the completed work determines the best type of binding, in terms of both budget and equipment.

If your chosen commercial printer doesn't have the perfect mechanical finishing solution, outsourcing is always an option. For some print operations, collaborative work is a way of life and only adds a “minimal cost” to the total bill. To avoid surprises, be clear about who bears the cost of shipping those 10 palettes of folders from one side of town to the other and back for finishing. Often, the bill for shipping alone can counteract any apparent savings you were making by choosing a facility that outsources finishing in the first place.

The Half-Inch Solution

When planning your print projects, have an understanding of the equipment your printer is using. This helps you design projects that suit the tolerances of their mechanical finishing devices, allowing you to create a better finished product for the best possible price. Half an inch here and there makes a world of difference in commercial printing. The experts at HardingPoorman are ready to explain how our mechanical finishing solutions can help you achieve the best results for your next printing project.