S is for SIZE

The flat and finished size of your printed piece can make a difference in the cost of your project.

Years ago I printed data sheets for a local circuit board manufacturer, but the same client used an ad agency to handle the collateral part of his design work including buying the printing. One day he called me and said he was working on a direct mail piece with them but the printing part of the job was out of his budget and he wondered if I could take a look and offer up some cost-saving ideas.  It was a 17×11 mailer with an additional 4″ fold out that included a portion of the 4″ part to be perforated so it could be filled out and returned. I brought the mock-up back in and sat down with my estimator to work out a proposal. It was then and there I got my first indication of how the flat size can impact the imposition of a press sheet.

I’m going to get just a little technical with you, but hang in there, you’ll get it. Because the flat size was 21×11 (17+the 4″ panel) the flat size would only fit on a full size press sheet 3- out. Three is an odd number of pieces so the job then had to run sheet-wise, for novices, this means one side runs through the press, we stop, take off those plates, hang new plates and flip the sheets over and print the other side of the sheet. I told the client the flat size created a non-efficient press run. He then asked me what could be done to make it efficient. I recommended that he reduce the 21″ to a size that would allow the piece to fit 4-out on a press sheet in a work and turn format. The work and turn format uses the same set of plates to print, we just flip the stock and back up the other side of the paper.

When I recommended the smaller size format to increase the efficiency he was able to have his agency rework to the smaller size and he saved nearly 30% in his printing costs.

I’m working on another project right now that if the client can take their 9×9 book to a 8.75×8.75 format they can save 25% of their printing budget.

So, lesson is:  Size does matter.


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