If I'm printing simple jobs, do I really need a printer with "state of the art" equipment?

Answered by Stephen Beals, Digital Pre-Press manager and industry writer

My printers are always singing the praises of their “state of the art” workflows and automation. I just print black and white newsletters and feel that I’m just paying more money for their heavy investment in computers. Do I really need all those bells and whistles?

The answer to all workflow questions is to use “appropriate technology”. I need only look at my own printing company to show you are quite right in your concerns. We have a one of those “state of the art” workflows that actually makes it more expensive to get a black and white newsletter through production than a four color job. We can’t just take a line art logo, shoot it on a camera and strip it in on a light table. And since our scanner is designed to scan very high quality color work, it takes much too long to scan a simple black and white page. A much cheaper much faster scanner would be much better for your job. Our equipment is great, but it’s not well suited for newsletters or business cards.

Appropriate technology applies throughout the printing process. A small duplicator, a hand operated guillotine cutter and a desktop folder might be all that’s needed to produce your newsletter, and investing tens of thousands of dollars in fancy presses and binding equipment is not going to reduce the cost of printing and binding your job.

However it is also true that someone may have an automated digital printer that could input, impose print, bind and trim your newsletter in a matter of minutes at a price much lower than you are currently paying.

While “high tech” may not always mean greater efficiency, finding just the right piece of equipment to handle the specific needs of your job can make a huge impact on the bottom line. Technology isn’t a matter of adding “bells and whistles,” it is a matter of finding the most appropriate technology to fit individual job needs.

Stephen Beals is a digital pre-press manager and has been writing for major print publications for many years. He is the author of A Practical Primer for Painless Print Production. He can be reached at computerwriter@verizon.net.
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