Cheapest way to print 2,000 calendars
June 27, 2005 9:37 AM   Subscribe

If I need ~2,000 11x17 double-sided print jobs on a monthly basis, which would be more cost effective: working with a local print shop or buying a good laser printer and doing it myself?

The printed item is a folded calendar for our independent movie theater. It will be only need one color of ink, but the paper will probably be something other than white. I realize that buying a good laser printer is a considerable investment, but I'm hoping the cost would mitigate itself over the period of a couple years.
posted by bjork24 to Grab Bag (9 answers total)
Well, sounds like you need a folding machine along with the laser, unless you have someone bored enough at work to fold 2000 sheets of paper every month.

If you decide to do this yourself, I would say your cost per page, should you be lucky enough to get your hands on an older model laserjet printer (like my laserjet 5si! duplexing too... cost should be $250 - $500 used for the printer) will be around 3 cents a page (its about 1 cent a page or less with 8.5" x 11"). This is assuming you will refill your own cartridge (easy and reccomended, although a bit messy). Of course, if you don't want black you'll be paying ungodly amounts of money.

If you stick with black do it yourself. If you want to use a different colour I would say get a printer to do it.
posted by shepd at 10:00 AM on June 27, 2005

I'd say commercial printer. Remember to factor the cost of your time into the equation (printer maintenance, manually having to run through the back side, paper jams, ordering and replacing print cartridges). Not to mention the folding. Sounds like much more trouble than it's worth to me, FWIW.
posted by SashaPT at 10:05 AM on June 27, 2005

If you buy your own equipment, you're stuck with that equipment's capabilities. If your needs change, you'll have to buy more equipment.
posted by Mark Doner at 10:30 AM on June 27, 2005

Work a deal with a print shop and see if they'll give you a break on the print costs in exchange for a small ad on one of the pages of your calendar. That might help some.
posted by contessa at 10:48 AM on June 27, 2005

2,000 sheets double-sided is a offset litho print job. Which is what your local print shop specializes in. Leaving you time to run your movie theatre.

If you feel like adding colour at some point your print shop could pre-print a years supply of templates (25,000 in colour) with, say, a 1 or 2" border in colour and then print a month's calendar in black on the pre-printed templates. This could be a good way of attracting advertisers...if you want that kind of thing. [You get good economies of scale when you start printing costs to get the press running but once it's off then the paper and ink is relatively cheap.]

Have a chat with your local small printers. This kind of work is their bread and butter and they'll be able to advise you. They may even typeset the thing for you every month to save you the bother.
posted by i_cola at 11:02 AM on June 27, 2005

If it's black ink on colored 11x17 then it can be done on high speed copiers, it needn't be done offset at all.

And if you talk to the copy/print shop you should be able to set up something with them. If they know it's a regular thing they are much more willing to haggle price.

And as someone who used to do jobs like this at Kinko's regularly.... I say let the copy/print shop do it. It's a pain in the patootie.
posted by FlamingBore at 12:48 PM on June 27, 2005

Leasing a printer is also an option. I lease a Ricoh CL7100 from my local IKON dealer.

We buy stock paper from a local paper outlet, and run it through the machine. We make probably 2000-5000 prints per month on a mix between 8.5x11 and 11x17 paper. Our bill is usually somewhere around $100-$180.

IKON pays for all work done to the machine, including repleacement toner. All we pay is a monthly service fee, plus a cost per print.

It might be worth giving your local IKON dealer a call to compair the costs of leasing with outsourcing the print job, or buying a printer of your own. No idea what would be cheaper.
posted by nitsuj at 2:08 PM on June 27, 2005

If you are a business then you could depreciate the cost of the copier as well, no?
As for time, maybe the ticket taker can do the folding during movies.
That said, it would need to be a clear and substantial savings before I would deal with the hassle and uncertainty.
posted by Rumple at 2:46 PM on June 27, 2005

I'm seconding the folding machine, if mostly because they're a whole lot of fun.
posted by Count Ziggurat at 2:59 PM on June 27, 2005

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