Help me print a poster for cheap
October 12, 2011 9:48 PM   Subscribe

I need to make a large poster for a research symposium. Where is the cheapest place to do it?

I have my first undergraduate research symposium and I am presenting a poster. It needs to be be about 3 1/2 feet by 3 1/2 feet and in color. I've looked around for a place to print it but my college doesn't offer poster printing at a discount and FedEx Kinko's posters all cost over a hundred dollars. Are there any other options?
posted by raeka to Science & Nature (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Costco has large format capabilities.
posted by bz at 10:24 PM on October 12, 2011

If you don't find a place that can do it within your budget, the other option that I'd say maybe 30% of the posters at conferences I go to use, is to print out individual A4 sheets and glue them to a board. You need to use a bit of design flair to go this route, though: otherwise it ends up looking like you cut and pasted a paper into poster form.
posted by lollusc at 10:28 PM on October 12, 2011

In line with lollusc's comment, this website might be useful for going the "past it together" way.
posted by Doleful Creature at 11:18 PM on October 12, 2011

I've frequently printed out slides and then stuck them onto a sheet of colored paper offset to give a background. I usually printed them out in color using a fancy header made in powerpoint and then carefully offset the colored paper about 1cm high and to the left to set each slide off by a colored mark. If you do this carefully and tape it securely you can then laminate the entire thing to make it easier to put up at the venue. One bonus of doing it this way is that if you want to add or delete slides to make future posters if is very easy and you don't have to reprint the entire whole big poster. It does take more tacks to stick it up, but the flexibility to include new results as you make them is great.
posted by koolkat at 1:20 AM on October 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

Check Staples. In Canada I know they can print poster sizes and I can't remember perfectly but it seems the maximum width they can do is 36 inches. The paper is on a roll.

It's not perfect but it's not nearly as expensive and the posters I've seen at conferences seem to be of similar quality. Might be worth a look.
posted by sarae at 3:47 AM on October 13, 2011

Best answer: PhdPosters has always been cheaper, faster, and better than Kinkos or whatever, for me.

$35 for a 42" x 36", plus $6.99 ground shipping (do it well in advance, if you want next day, it's not really a savings.)
posted by Comrade_robot at 5:10 AM on October 13, 2011 [3 favorites]

Ask your department secretary, I'll bet that he or she knows the cheapest/best option in town. And check with your academic advisor because I've always had poster printing paid for by them.

Also, you say your school doesn't offer poster printing at a discount, but it still may be cheaper than 100$. The cheapest option I have on the campus I'm on right now would cost less than 40$ for a poster of that size.
posted by tchemgrrl at 5:14 AM on October 13, 2011

Our office uses a local reprographics firm for our CAD drawings, as they have gigantic plotters. I've used them for large digital prints, too. They were fast and extremely cheap. I'm not sure where you're located, so I can't point you to one, but it's worth a look.
posted by strega_bianca at 5:54 AM on October 13, 2011

At my old school cheap(er) poster printing was available through some non-obvious venues, such as the design school, or the library. In fact the library maintained a web page listing all the on-campus poster printing options.

Do ask your academic advisor and department secretary, as tchemgrrl suggested above. They might be aware of funding sources to help defray the poster printing costs, or let you know if there's an arrangement with a vendor for discounted printing.

Also, contact the conference organizers to ask if they have any support for poster printing - some kind of discount, or they'll arrange for poster printing at a fixed cost with a printer local to the conference (I've seen prices quoted for $35 for posters up to a certain size). You might also want to double check the poster size requirements - the dimensions you mention are a bit unusual and this can also drive up the price of poster printing.
posted by needled at 6:20 AM on October 13, 2011

Mine have always been paid for, so I've used the school printers or kinkos, but I have heard good things about online printers (I can't remember any off hand, but PhDPosters (linked above) might have been one of them. Others have said you can print it out on normal paper and then tile it, and while that is true, and some people do that, how prevalent it is and how it's looked up depends on the conferences. The scientific conferences I go to have seen a sharp decrease in the number of posters printed this way and thus they tend to come off looking sloppy and less professional than ones printed on one sheet. YMMV.

Two other comments though: 1) dont' forget to get a poster tube for transporting your poster so it doesn't get damanged and 2) if you make your poster in powerpoint (a common one used because you can set the size of the page to the size you want), it often adds a large border around the edge, making your poster look shrunken in the middle, so definitely do a test print of it.
posted by katers890 at 6:32 AM on October 13, 2011

Response by poster: I asked around and found out that my department does most of its printing for free through a small group/program within it, so I should be able to get it done for free after all. Otherwise, PhD printing looked really nice.
posted by raeka at 2:05 PM on October 13, 2011

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