Excellence In Printing, Inc. • 7602 Murray Drive, Suite 102 • Stockton CA 95210-5300 • (209) 473-4442

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Answers...
to Common Questions & Issues


Short Orders:
Why does it cost so much to print just a few sheets?
Electronic/Digital Printing:
   How can I get a few color printed sheets inexpensively?
Overruns/Underruns: Why is there more than I ordered?
Why does colored ink cost extra?
Why does the job take more a a few days to produce?

I supplied the file electronically! Why do I get charged set up fees?

Short Orders:
Why does it cost so much to print just a few sheets?
    The printing business is a custom manufacturing business. It utilizes similar production techniques like those of an assembly line. Each job requires some kind of custom tooling, i.e. plates & papers unique to the customers job, that is NOT produced at the "click" of a button. The presses are capable of printing a wide variety of jobs but take considerable time to set & ink the machine and get to the first sellable sheet. After that first sheet, look out because these presses are fast and the unit cost will drop considerably at higher run sizes. 

Electronic/Digital Printing:
How can I get a few color printed sheets inexpensively?
    This is "push button" printing. Color/Black & White Copiers along with color inkjet & laser printers have created an industry of "have- it-now" color printing. (Actually its not ink, it is toner or a dye) These machines can get you into something quick but cannot do envelopes nor does the cost-per-sheet drop significantly at higher runs. They are limited on the types of paper they can use and the image tends to jump around from sheet to sheet. (A press puts each image in the same spot on every sheet - This is called registration) These processes are an part of the industry now so it it up to the shops to apply the production know-how to integrate them professionally.
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Overruns/Underruns: Why is there more than I ordered?
    This occurs when there in a significant overage in the production run. A certain amount is allowed for spoilage and when the spoilage does not happen at the rate it was planned, the shop tries to recover the cost of the extra delivered product. Sometimes shortages occur due to equipment malfunction or other conditions out of the control of the shop. Most shops guarantee the quantity up to a +/-10%. If the job is short the job is billed short but at the rate of the original quantity. The extra product (up to 10% of the original order) is billed at the rate of the total quantity. Customer gets a little more than ordered but gets the price break of the original quantity. Confused yet? Wait, it gets worse. Let's say a customer must have an exact count and would refuse a job that is short or refuse to pay for overs. In this case, the %10 over are billed into the job upfront to make absolutely sure that there is enough material to produce the job in the event of a problem and guarantee a quantity. This is very common in the forms industry. Most forms shops only service other print shops, so its falls on us to explain all of the policies that sometimes conflict with our own.
    Some shops just bill the spoilage factor as part of the original estimate so when there is extra, they are just given to the customer. All In-House work is done this way at Excellence In Printing, Inc. When jobs are sent to forms production facilities, their policies must be followed to be be able to sell their product at a cheaper price than can be produced in house. The forms shop is a specialized industry that does everything on a huge scale (purchasing power, production speed) and therefore pretty much dictates policy in selling those products. 
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Why does colored ink cost extra?
    All non-black & non-mixing inks have to be blended to make all the colors available. Just like having the local paint store mix you any color you can imagine, the printing industry blends its colors in a similar way. A group of base colors are available that are used in the color pallets of the Pantone™ Matching System (PMS), the primary color communication system used in the industry. These colors are mixed by volume or weight according the recipes in the PMS color guides. (PMS charts are $100 a pop and we get them from out graphic supply providers). The extra charge for the custom color is to cover the cost of the base colors used, the mixing time and the time required to take it on & off press (washup). If a color is "out of the can" the cost of the ink itself and the washup is charged, it is slightly less than a mixed color. Metallic inks cost even more because of the hard cost of the ink itself and the washup time that takes longer due to the heaviness of the brass, copper & aluminum pigment used which is much heavier that the non metallic pigments and does not clean from the press as fast. 
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Why does the job take more than a few days to produce?
   
Any job that requires multiple operations requires extra time to complete. Complex jobs often have multiple runs involved and those runs don't necessarily happen on the same day. Many stocks require time for the inks to set up properly before it can be handled or printed on the back side. This is also true of the operations that occur after the sheet is printed. Folders use metal rollers that can streak and scratch sheets that are not dry enough to work with. Cutters exert 3500 lbs per square inch on paper stacks during the trimming process so a wet sheet will transfer its wet ink to the sheet above it in the stack thus ruining it. Operations like numbering, perforating, die cutting, foiling and embossing use another type of specialized stamping machine that usually has a line of jobs waiting to get on it thus creating another slow down point. There are some processes that must be done out of shop. Ops like coil/perfect binding, large sheet printing, and bulk forms/envelope production are produced in trade shops that specialize in just one thing and only work for print shops as subcontractors. These jobs are must schedule around all of the other jobs in that shop. The customer can benefit financially by their jobs ending up in the printer's trade shops due to the significant cost savings that is hopefully being passed on. There is so much over productive capability in the industry these days that if every shop did everything in house, the shop would not have enough business to keep that specialized department busy for a consistent enough period to justify the expense of doing so. Back to top of page

I supplied the file electronically!, Why do I get charged set up fees?
     Ah yes, the BIG issue of the day! The electronic file was supposed to revolutionize the industry but instead and been the greatest hurdle in job flow progress. The problem is simple: Few people use universally compatible file formats built using universal rules of compatibility. Everyone seems to believe that "THEIR" program's raw file format is the industry standard. In the Graphic Industry, you have the "Quark"/Mac people on one side and the "Adobe Pagemaker/Indesign"/PC people on the other (or a blend of both) with all of the other programs like MS Word, Publisher, Printshop, Photopaint, Greeting Card Maker etc. circulating around in the amateur markets. 
    The bottom line is this - EPS (Encapsulated Post Script) Files and PDF are the universal constants. These files alone no good unless they are created with some basic standards.
    1) Fonts to Outlines! Guess what- Every computer does not have every font. Fonts are licensed property and are not supposed to be handed out like candy. Change those fonts to Outlines or Curves (Same term, different Programs). This makes the type a "graphic" so it looks like it did when it left your computer. Can't do that? Be prepared to pay someone that can.
    2) COLOR - If the piece is printed full color using CYAN, MAGENTA, YELLOW & BLACK to simulate the full spectrum of color (CMYK), do not have RGB Images or spot color images in the file. These will have to be fixed and charged accordingly. If the piece is to be printed using mixed pigmented color SPOT COLOR (Example: Custom Green Ink & Custom Red Ink), the colors in the document must contain the Exact Spot Color Information that can be recognized and "SEPARATED" by a Postscript Imagesetter. Using multiple greens and reds and thinking it "looks" like only 2 colors doesn't cut it. Full color photos that look green and red don't work either. Your graphics software will determine your spot color abilities, that's why it costs so much. This concept is difficult for those not trained in the art. It's even difficult for those who "think" they are trained in the art.
    Spot Color & Font issues are the plagues of electronic job flow in the industry. When in doubt pay the professionals to do it right the first time. I will cost less that you think because you won't have to pay to have it done twice! 
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Please feel free to contact us for more information: tom@excellenceinprinting.com


This section will be edited & updated often.....