Digital Printing in Atlanta
April 24, 2006 5:42 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find a good digital printing company in Atlanta?

I'm going to need to print out my design portfolio book this coming week and I need to find the best printer (company) that I can. It needs to be color laser printed and way out of the league of kinko's :). I'm new to the area, and usually these things take time figuring out who's who, but I can't do that now. Bonus to a company that would let me use my a specific paper that I provide. Also, these will be one-off printing jobs, no high-volume runs. Thanks.
posted by Sreiny to Media & Arts (3 answers total)
I'm afraid that you will not be able to do this thing that you want to do in the way that you want to do it.

There is no such thing as "color laser print[ing]...way out of the league of Kinko's." There is either laser printing (with toner, which sits on top of paper and which will never look like what you want whether it's done at Kinko's or elsewhere), digital offset printing, or traditional offset lithography. Traditional offset will be out of your price range; which leaves you with digital offset.

Digital offset printing is the "next step" up from Kinko's. It will give you real ink on paper at a one-off price you can afford. However, it will limit the size and types of paper you can use, and it will not look quite as good as traditional offset. Sorry, you get what you pay for. I expect the paper limitations will be what really piss you off; this is a good article about the expanding range of papers optimized for digital output, but it's still extremely limited compared with traditional offset. All those beautiful, textured papers that graphic artists love create a lot of paper dust that seriously gunks up digital machines.

As a side note, I doubt that any reputable printing company is going to let you use your own paper. For any press run, even digital, there will be "overage," i.e. test runs to calibrate the press on sheets of paper that are wasted. Do you have enough paper to cover the overage? Do you have your desired stock in sheets large enough to run through a press? In the right size to run through their press? More importantly, printing press operators do not generally run paper from god-knows-where through their precious machines.

A little Googling brings up AREA Printing & Design near Atlanta, which would appear to have several digital offset presses. You could start by giving them a call, talking over the specs of your project, and learning what they can offer you. Be prepared to compromise. And in future, learn as much as you can about the technical side of printing; this will save you much pain and frustration in your career, and set you apart from the bulk of designers who do not understand printing and how best to work within its limitations.

I am a graphic designer who spent 2 years working for a printing company that offered both traditional and digital offset printing, and 2 additional years designing exclusively for digital offset presses. My experience in this area is extensive, but not by any means comprehensive.
posted by junkbox at 7:51 AM on April 24, 2006

I'm not sure if photographic type prints would work for you, but I use this company for analog photographic prints, and they also have an online service where you can upload images for them to print. They're very accommodating and have been in business for a long time so they might know who to call if they can't help you.
posted by one at 10:26 AM on April 24, 2006

I've used a couple of times and been pleased with the results. They're in Atlanta.

Seconding junkbox's comment about using your own paper. I don't expect you'll find anyone to allow that without charging more than the privilege is worth.
posted by friezer at 12:02 PM on April 24, 2006

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