Questions to Ask Your Print Company Before Going Digital

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When it comes to business printing services, you’re likely to run into two major options: digital printing and offset printing. The former, which doesn’t require the custom plates needed in offset printing to transfer ink onto your paper or product, is generally the better choice for small and medium-sized businesses, but that’s not always the case — and making that assumption could end up costing you. Here are the questions you can ask a print company to make sure digital printing is the most effective and affordable option for your business’ needs:

  1. What’s Your Turnaround Time?

    Generally, one of the primary advantages of digital printing is that it can be done on a quicker turnaround (because, as mentioned above, it doesn’t require the creation of custom plates). But before you make a decision, you should ask about the comparative turnaround times for both digital printing and offset printing in the company. If this particular printing company is hung up on other projects right now, it’s possible that going digital won’t get your product to you any faster (and might cost you more).

  2. What’s the Minimum Run?

    This is an important question because it determines the point at which digital printing becomes more affordable than offset printing. Digital printing actually tends to cost more than offset printing when you look at the price per unit, but companies tend to set a much lower minimum quantity for digital printing projects. So depending on what that minimum run is and how many copies you realistically need for your company’s purposes, digital printing may or may not be the most affordable choice.

  3. What Digital Quality Can You Offer?

    Ever since digital printing came on the scene, the greatest criticism of it has been that it delivers inferior image quality and poor color matching when compared to offset methods. But the newest digital printers offer extremely high quality, equaling or bettering many old-fashioned offset presses. Of course a digital machine from 1997 won’t produce the results you want, but you probably don’t want to contract with a company using decades-old machines of any kind. So you’ll want to investigate the digital printing quality offered by the specific print company you’re considering, rather than relying on web advice decrying digital printing’s quality. If possible, ask to see a side-by-side comparison of products printed on digital and offset machines, so you can see for yourself; it’s very possible you’ll see no difference at all.

What other questions should you ask a print company before starting on a project? Share your advice in the comments.

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