Why Pricing Digital Print Differs from Pricing Wide Format Graphics

If your printing firm offers both cut-sheet digital print services and wide-format graphics printing, you have already discovered that pricing digital print is different than pricing wide format. But if you are consider adding wide-format printing to your cut-sheet printing services (or vice versa), you need to be aware of the fundamental differences between cut sheet and wide-format printing.

These differences will affect your ability to provide accurate estimates.

The types and variety of materials you can print are much different.

Cut-sheet printers use various types of papers with different thicknesses and textures to print items such as invitations, tickets, sell sheets, documents, manuals, postcards, brochures, letters, and small signs and posters.

The materials available for wide-format printing go well beyond paper. Wide-format printers can use a huge variety of materials to print indoor and outdoor signs, window and floor graphics,  trade-show exhibits, photo and art prints, promotional products, wall murals, window blinds, packaging, book covers, flags, posters, vehicle wraps, furniture wraps, and much more. Wide-format graphics printers can print on a variety of display films, photo papers, canvas, vinyls, and fabrics. If you are using a wide-format flatbed inkjet printer, the range of materials you can print will be almost unlimited.

Some prepress challenges will be different.

Wide format graphics typically involve large photographs with a few lines of large type. Many graphics are designed to make a quick, strong visual impression or attract attention from a distance. If your customer submits designs with low-resolution images or intricate fonts that are hard to read read from a distance, they will be disappointed with the prints. When buyers or designers have never worked with large-format graphics before, your prepress team may need to spend additional time suggesting alternative designs or images.

Cut-sheet digital prints, such as direct-mail letters and postcards, often involve variable data and/or images. Problems can occur if the data supplied by the customer is incomplete or inaccurate. This can create issues when the data is merged with the print files during prepress. If you serve small, local businesses, many of your customers might not be fully prepared to provide the clean and complete data needed to efficiently set up the job..

Wide-format prints may require more complicated finishing processes.

Digital prints on paper are often folded, bound, or inserted into envelopes. Or, the printed sheets can be enhanced with different types of varnishes, foils, and embellishments. In any case, the finishing processes are often highly automated and finished prints can be stacked in a standard-sized box and delivered to the customers.

Depending on how the wide-format graphic will be used, the finishing process may require laminating, sewing, grommeting, stretching, or die-cutting. These finishing processes are typically more labor intensive. The finished products may be bulky to handle and require special shipping boxes with extra protection to prevent damage.

Wide-format mistakes are more evident and costly.

Errors are hard to overlook when a digital file is printed big. Designers will quickly see flaws in the image, jagged type, or colors that aren’t quite right. The cost of reprinting each wide-format print will be higher than a cut-sheet print because each big print uses more ink and material.

Print buyers who primarily preparing files for online marketing may not be aware of the differences between digital cut-sheet printing and digital wide-format printing. Many customers prefer buying both types of printing from one source and may assume that success is simply a matter of hitting the “print” button on different sizes of devices.

Pricing wide-format digital printing is sometimes more of an art than a science — partly because wide-format printing itself can still be an art. Wide-format prints produced by companies that understand the intricacies of the prepress process often look visibly superior to large prints made by wide-format printing novices. Because the whole point of making big prints is to create a favorable impression, the best customers will pay more for expertise and quality.

At Ordant, we work with many companies that offer both cut-sheet digital printing and wide-format graphics printing. We know that there is no one-size-fits-all pricing formula that will work with both types of printing.

With Ordant’s easy-to-use customizable Print MIS program, we can help you make sure that all of your jobs are profitably and competitively priced -- whether they involve cut sheet digital prints and/or wide-format graphics. And if you want to adjust your pricing to reward high-volume, loyal customers who are easy to work with, our software can help with that too..To schedule a demonstration, visit.www.ordant.com

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