Printing = Manufacturing
Printing is a custom manufacturing process. When we fill your order, we aren’t taking something off the shelf and shipping it to you. We start from scratch each time, with paper (either blank or preprinted, like business card shells), ink or toner, and a digital file to be printed (either provided by you or retrieved from our secure archives).
All printing jobs have at least two manufacturing steps: prepress and printing. The prepress step uses a digital file (usually a PDF) to create a raster image. Printing is the output and reproduction process, which may be done on an offset press or a digital printer.
Depending on the project’s requirements, it may require finishing such as trimming, folding, stitching, drilling, binding and assembly. Jobs being printed for the first time may need design and preflight.
Like all custom manufacturing jobs, printing requires clear, unambiguous specifications that guide the manufacturing process. These include the type of paper, the ink color(s), the finished size of the printed piece, and any finishing work required. For each printing project, the specifications are based on the choices you make.
Custom manufacturing takes time, and haste makes waste. Recognizing this, we have developed production standards that tell us how much time to allow for each step in the manufacturing process. Our production standards aren’t arbitrary; rather, they were developed to allow our production team enough time to read and understand the job specifications, decide the best equipment to use for the job, and operate the equipment in a manner that produces quality results while ensuring operator safety.
Can we speed things up when necessary? Can we pull rabbits out of hats and perform minor miracles? Of course. But that’s exceptional work, not our production standard.
Printing = PartnershipWe learned long ago that being dependable is the most valuable thing we can offer you. Our goal is to deliver your printing on time, as ordered, and at the agreed-upon price. But we need your help to do this.
- Tell us the real due date. We will have your job done at the agreed-upon time – period. That means you don’t have to pad the due date because we might be late. If you prefer to have all printed materials in-hand a week before the meeting at which they will be used, we understand and will have the jobready. If you intend to pick up the job on your way to the meeting, we also understand. Either way, we won’t let you down.
- Respect the price we give you for the job. We don’t pad our prices. If you find a lower price somewhere else, it is because the specifications changed (even though you may not know it) or the other printer may specialize in that particular item. Can we shave the price a bit to meet your budget? Possibly, especially if you are a regular customer. Will you get us to lower our price by announcing you can buy it for half as much somewhere else? Not likely. Instead, we’ll congratulate you on finding a better price for that item and suggest you take the deal.
- Provide what we need from you by the agreed date and time. Remember our production standards? They are the basis for developing the timeline. When you are providing a PDF file, text, photographs, illustrations, mailing list, or postage deposit – we will give you an interim due date for each item. The interim due date is when we must receive the item to stay on schedule and be ready on time. If others in your company are responsible for some of these, we suggest you share the interim due date with them so you won’t be late. You be on time and we’ll be on time.
- Provide your files in industry-standard format. Microsoft Word is an industry standard for a report, but not for a brochure or a mailing list. Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop are industry standards for drawings and illustration or color correction and photograph manipulation but not for page layout. Some programs can make print-ready PDFs; others cannot.
A special word about design, file repair and desktop printing: our job is to make you look good in print, and we take this seriously. We want all your printed materials to represent you well and for your branding to be consistent. That is why we may suggest that you let us design your new printed piece, or redesign an older one that needs refreshing. We may suggest redrawing a pixelated logo or creating a digital file of a document that currently exists only as hard copy. We may also offer to print something that you have previously printed yourself on desktop equipment.
We make these suggestions as part of our job as print professionals. We will always provide a cost estimate and will not proceed with work you have not authorized. Most of the time our suggestions are based on a short-term or one-time expense that we can demonstrate will save money in the long run.