When is a Printer not a Printer?

This may sound like a daft question, but many people send their artwork off to printing companies (often online) and it is posted back to them… so surely they’ve used a printer. Actually, maybe not, they may well have in fact sent their artwork to a Print Management company, whose only printer is the shared office inkjet, so instead they act as a middleman and pass your artwork on to a Printer, who will print it, brand it as the Print Management work and send it back to you.

It’s still getting printed though, so what’s the problem? It really depends on your viewpoint regarding paying commission, along with price versus quality. The majority of print management companies focus solely on price, to ensure that they can still take their cut without the job becoming too expensive, but as with most things in life you get what you pay for. This means that the finished product isn’t always what you were hoping for – lower quality stock paper, image resolution hasn’t been checked because no human has actually seen it, the layout isn’t quite right as the computer has just dropped the image in without any assessment, the list goes on.

“Buy right, buy it once” is a useful phrase to remember, but if you’re willing to take the risk to potentially save some money, then the print management option could be for you. If not, here are our tips to ensure you get a quality job from an actual printer:

  • If you can (and regulations allow), visit them – see for yourself if it’s just an office or an actual printer workshop.
  • Ask about their image resolution recommendations, how they think it should be laid out, for their opinion on your image.
  • Query what stock they think you should use and why.
  • Ask if you can collect your items, rather than have them posted out to you.
  • Request a named person to deal with all your printing work.
  • Ask about finishes, be it for paper/card, banners, posters – they should be able to advise you about matt/gloss, eyelets, UV protection, etc.

It’s worth noting that some smaller printers may not be able to do the larger jobs in-house, so they will work with other local printers on some items, but they will still be able to offer advice and will happily share their knowledge and expertise with you.

The decision is yours to make, but now you can make it with all the facts so that it’s an informed decision – printer or print management?