Printbuyers Online

How can I determine which parent sheet sizes will yield the least amount of waste?

Answered by Suzanne Morgan, founder, Print Buyers

Is there a method of calculating which parent sheet size would yield less waste when determining the quantity of paper to purchase?


Unfortunately, because there are so many variables involved, there is not a simple answer to this question. Some examples of the variables and how they affect the paper quantities are:

  • Which press will be used for the project – this determines which parent size sheets are most appropriate for the project. The choices available factored against the size of the piece will dictate how much waste there will be.

  • The flat and finished size of the piece – this is part of what determines whether the job will lay out as a sheet-wise, work-and-turn or work-and-tumble project. This will also determine how many pieces each sheet will yield. These different layouts affect where the parent sheet is gripped on the press among other factors that all contribute to the waste factor.

  • How much ink coverage there is – this variable also contributes to how the piece must run on the press because of limitations with ink rollers, ghosting potential, etc.

  • Where the folds are - (and whether the piece can fold against the paper grain or not). Folding against the grain can play a significant part in the amount of paper waste.

These, among many other factors, all contribute to how a piece will be laid out for printing. Since these factors are unique for literally every print project, there is no standard that can be used.

My suggestion would be to speak to your print supplier at the onset of each project to discuss these details (and your goal). If your print runs are low, paper waste will be less of a cost factor but if they are higher in quantity, you can save a great deal of money by taking into consideration all the factors listed above.

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