Modern digital printing technology has streamlined what was once a multi-step and time-consuming process with a relatively large margin for error. You can now have books, flyers, brochures, photos, calendars and a variety of other projects printed quickly and inexpensively by submitting the finished designs electronically. Professional printing software is also capable of rendering high caliber graphics and text on a wide range of possible paper measurements.
The two main options available are mass printing and on-demand printing. Both can deliver the same quality, but the order process and printing workflow are quite different. Depending on the scope of your project to be printed, mass printing and on-demand printing each have their advantages as well as possible drawbacks.
Advantages of Mass Printing
As its name suggests, mass printing involves large orders of the same media to be printed in bulk. This method is best for larger organizations that need regular volumes of printed projects, such as a mass mailing ad campaign or a high-volume newsletter to be sent to interested customers. Some of the main advantages of mass printing include cost-effective pricing, quick turn-around times and the easy application of different methods such as inkjet or laser printing.
Possible Drawbacks of Mass Printing
Mass printing has some limitations in design, including high-gloss paper finishes and a few types of specialty graphics. Iridescent or metallic graphical or type finishes may look visually appealing in an illustration software program, but much of the effect can get lost once the design is printed out. The main reason is that standard mass printing equipment is not always capable of rendering these specialty effects to the highest quality.
Another drawback of certain mass printing projects is that some printing companies employ personnel who are only experienced in a few specific methods, such as relief printing or rotogravure printing. Both of these techniques are best for high-gloss magazines and catalogs, but they may not work quite as well for other print projects.
Benefits of On-Demand Printing
This printing option has caught on in popularity, especially among independent book authors and small business owners who only need a small number of prints at a time. For these print company clients, on-demand printing is the most economical choice because they are not required to order large quantities they may not completely use.
Other benefits of on-demand printing are the lack of storage costs for warehousing large volumes of printed items and the flexibility of adding updates to print-on-demand books or other media at minimal expense. Authors and business owners who order print-on-demand materials can also eliminate any extra costs of having unsold and outdated inventory recycled or destroyed.
Common Disadvantages of Print-on-Demand Services
Using web-based printing services can have some drawbacks, namely that the term can cause some confusion among new authors or other print media creators who are unfamiliar with the process. Producing small quantities of print materials is not confined to web-based self-publishing services. It is also available at many traditional publishing houses; some first-time clients may not be aware of this fact and might mistakenly think mass print orders is their only option.
Minor quality differences can be another disadvantage for certain print-on-demand projects. Books, brochures, magazines and other publications that are mainly text-based have the best results with many print-on-demand processes. Materials that have many color photographs or illustrations may not appear as sharp or crystal-clear as they could when rendered on a mass printing press. This problem can depend on the equipment and specific process that the printing company uses, so it is advised to discuss these factors beforehand.
Which Printing Method is the Best?
Mass printing or printing on demand are both great options depending on different types of print projects, customer budgets and plans for distribution. Larger volumes of printed materials are typical in the business world, particularly for marketing and advertising purposes. Independent book and magazine publishing projects tend to be better suited to print-on-demand services.
Mass printing is the most financially practical option for large-scale organizations that are likely to see returns on the investment quickly. On-demand printing is the better option for smaller budgets because these customers only need to pay for the number of finished prints and not for any additional storage fees that accompany mass printing orders.