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Should I purchase a digital printer?

Sep 14, 2012 7:53 AM

We are looking at long term printing of workbooks and other educational materials, but we'll be starting with production runs of as little as 100-200. Our first publication is 42 full-color pages, 8-1/2 x 11, probably on 80-100 lb. gloss stock. We think our cheapest option is saddle stictching 11 x 17.

 

This is basically a cost/benefit question. Is there an inexpensive digital printer, new or used, that can be purchased that will compete with a local digital printing shop charging $3.50 or so each for a run of 200 and get comparable quality? I understand that we would have to do our own folding, stapling, and trimming.

 

Bottom line: we need to get a good looking product out fast and cheap.

 

Thx.

 

Paul

 

P.S. I'm having a hard time finding local printers who will charge a low fee for a small run.

 
Replies
  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2012 8:19 AM   in reply to Paul Stark

    In my experience it's impossible for the small guy to do runs of that size in-house and get the quality at a price even close to what a commercial shop can deliver. I have a $5,000 color laser here that I use pretty much just for proofing and really short run stuff like 100 business cards that I need the same day. My cost to operate it is higher than I pay my printer in most cases.

     

    Commercial shops keep the equipment running all day which means they can lease it on favorable terms, and they can get better equipment than you or I can afford, and they can replace it when it becomes worn out or obsolete (which is the source for most of the equipment you'll find on the used market).

     

    If the local guys won't help you out, start looking a little wider. There are a lot of printers out there, and they're all hungry.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 14, 2012 4:24 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    $3.50 per 42 page full color pages including folding, stapling, and trimming? If your local printer is charging that amount and produces a high quality printed product, it actually sounds like a bargain (especially if that is for full color on all pages)!

     

    You may be able to get reasonably good quality out of an “inexpensive digital printer” but (1) such printers often have inordinately-expensive supplies, i.e., toner cartridges - that's how printer companies make money with these inexpensive printers, the old razor and razor blade pricing scheme and (2) manually folding, stapling and trimming is a time consuming process that will yield lousy results unless you have some additional equipment to help you.

     

              - Dov

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2012 7:31 AM   in reply to Paul Stark

    Bleed requires a trim, but a really professional booklet needs to be face trimmed anyway to remove the "shingling."

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2012 10:50 AM   in reply to Paul Stark

    There are some digital printers that claim to provide borderless printing, but those are primarily photo inkjet devices and even then, any misregistration of the paper by even 1 pixel yields some unexpected white margin. Thus, if you really want proper looking bleed, you must do it via trim. And once you are talking about a multiple sheet booklet, the point that Peter made about the “shingling” is spot on!

     

    In other words, you really need to have your printed product professionally printed and finished.

     

    In terms of pricing, the price doesn't sound out of line, assuming reasonable quality printing. Unfortunately, we cannot judge that for you on-line!

     

              - Dov

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2012 12:36 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    I'm not having any trouble with the script. I'm running the 2.5 version for CS5 directly, and also the 2.2.1 version from a subfolder named Version 6.0 Scripts so that it's interpreted using CS4 rules. Both seem to work just fine. Check your fitting options before you run. You may need to change the crop option to "Bleed" and check the bok to bleed the fitted page.

     

    Paper prices vary widely. Most printers have a "house" stock in coated and uncoated that they buy in large quantities to get a good price, so there may be no difference in cost for gloss using their stock paper. Specifying something they have to order could cost quite a bit more, depending on brand, weight, finsh and quantity.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2012 1:35 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    Yes, I had to create the subfolder myself.  I installed the script into C:\Users\<My Username>\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\InDesign\Version 8.0\en_US\Scripts\Scripts Panel so it appears in the scripts panel under User Scripts for my user but would not appear in another user, but you can put it in C:\Program Files (x86)\... your path is probably differnt from mine here...\Adobe InDesign CS6\Scripts\Scripts Panel and it will appear for all users under Application Scripts.

     

    And yes, ID belongs in the Program Files (x86) folder on 64-bit systems.

     
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    Sep 15, 2012 1:38 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    Can you show us a screen shot of the borders rendering incorrectly?

     

    If you are scaling A4 to letter and not distorting, you would get bleed only top and bottom. Letter is shorter, but wider than A4.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2012 2:06 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    Paul Stark wrote:

     

    I already tried that, putting 2.2.1 in the ID CS6 scripts folder but with the same results.

     

    version 2.2.1 must be in a Version 6.0 Scripts subfolder in CS6. The latest version will run directly in the Scripts folder.

     

    The other applications you mention that installed in the regualr Program Files folder would be 64-bit versions (and there are 32 bit versions for at least some of them, Photoshop for sure). ID and other 32-bit programs (there is not a 64-bit version of ID, yet) get installed in the (x86) folder.

     

    If you got differnet results in CS4, maybe you used differnt settings? Perhaps you unchecked the "Keep Proportions" box so it would scale unevenly?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2012 2:37 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    I just did a sample A4 PDF into Letter layout and these settings worked perfectly:

    Multipage Import non-proportional.png

     

    Did you set bleeds in the document setup of the new file?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 15, 2012 3:09 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    Seems to work the same. If the .indd file you are placing was set up with bleeds, use the Crop to Bleed Bounding Box and Bleed Fit Pages options, if not, crop to page bounding box and uncheck bleed fit pages (unless you want to stretch the pages to make them bleed). If yo have white space along an edge, check to see if the art inthe original version actually extends all the way to the page edge or bleed guide, respectively.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 19, 2012 2:51 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    The dimensions listed in the first screen shot are in Picas and Points, not pixels, and they are correct for a letter-size page. I don't know why you are set to use that system, but you can change to inches in the prefs.

     

    I happen to have a project I'm currently working on for a client that is laid out in A4 size, and it alos happens that they need a letter sized version, so I was already playing with placing pages from the first file into the second. The project happens to have been done in CS3 because that's what the client has and they want to be able to maintianin it later, and in CS3 the script only places PDF, so I exported a PDF (which I needed anyway) at A4 size and used the script to place that.

     

    I also used the same PDF and the A4 .indd file to test the CS5 version fo the script in CS6 to make sure it was still working correctly, and it is.

     

    As far as actuyally running the script, you only need to create a single-page file into which you will be placing your larger pages. The script will add the extra needed pages itself. It's OK to make all 42 first, but you don't need to. When yous say "reset settings" on that third screen capture, is that the doc setup for the new file, or did you try to change the document setup on the A4 file? Don't do that.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 20, 2012 2:28 PM   in reply to Paul Stark

    You can use either a PDF or the .indd in script versions for CS4 or later.

     

    Your margin settings don't really matter when you run the script as it doesn't use them for anything. You might want to set them to something like .25" so you can view a "safety" area that all important content should be within.

     

    The overlap you see is the bleed on the inside from the A4 document. I've been playing with the script to see what settings work to fix that.

     

    A4 is narrower than Letter, as you recall. Did you decide whether you are are scaling evenly, in which case even if you bleed top and bottom your pages will not bleed left and right, or if you are going to stretch the width to fit the letter page so you can bleed off the outside edge? It makes a difference in how you set up.

     

    You're going to want to make either a copy of the A4 .indd file and go into Document setup to adjust the bleeds, or make an A4 PDF from the original file and set the bleeds manually.

     

    If you are NOT stretching the width, set both inside and outside bleeds to 0, but leave your top and bottom bleeds alone.  If you are going to stretch the page width to give you full bleed in the letter document, set only the inside bleed to 0 and leave the others.

     

    There are too many variations for settings in the script, depending on if you are placing .indd or PDF and whether or not you are stretching for full bleed,  for me to give them all to you -- it will get very confusing. Instead, post back with which combination fo file format you will place and how it will bleed, and I'll give you the sequence to set it up.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 21, 2012 6:47 AM   in reply to Paul Stark

    How does this get bound?

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 21, 2012 7:26 AM   in reply to Paul Stark

    You don't want an inside bleed on a saddle-stiched book, typically. In any case, if there is an inside bleed, the bleed is the edge of the opposite page along the spine, or you need to split the spreads so you are not picking up the edge of the opposite page and extend your art off the spine edge on the spit spreads.

     

    You are starting with a page width that is narrower than your target page, then reducing it to about 94% of it's original width, unless you stretch the page to fill the 8.5" dimension. Because the A4 page is narrower, the area that is originally the bleed along the spine is now inside the trim area.

     

    Try this:

     

    Export the A4 document to PDF, but in the Marks and Bleeds section turn OFF the marks, and set the top, bottom and outside bleeds to .125 inch. Your PDF should now be 1/4 inch taller, and 1/8 wider than a standard A4 page, and has the bleed around the outside three edges.

     

    Set up the new file as facing pages letter with Bleed of .125 on top, bottom and outside, and 0 inside.

     

    Run the script with these settings:

    Multipage Import non-proportional Stark 1.png

     

    This should stretch the width of the page for full bleed but not leave any extra at the spine.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 21, 2012 7:55 AM   in reply to Paul Stark

    You're leaving them off the A4 PDF because you don't want them to be part fo the art that's going into the new file. Feel free to add crops and bleeds to the PDF you make from the Letter-sized file.

     
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  • Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 21, 2012 9:12 AM   in reply to Paul Stark

    Glad you finally got it worked out.

     

    Don't lose your notes.

     
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