Commercial printing is the process whereby an artwork is reproduced multiple times on a substrate, commonly paper or board. Commercially printed products are generally used to promote a business or service or even be sold themselves. Every business has a requirement for commercial printing at some point. These may be small items such as flyers, brochures or internal stationery items that are useful for running the business. Commercial printing may also take the form of large promotional items such as printed catalogs or booklets. These can explain how your business or service works, or showcase your product range.
Commercial Printing Products
A huge range of products can be printed commercially and these can vary in size and quantity. These products normally either promote the brand of the business itself or the products and services it offers. A publishing company will produce commercial printing for its customers that will then be sold on, such as books and magazines.
Commercially printed stationery such as letterheads, envelopes, invoices and compliment slips also conveys a professional image and help promote a business.
Catalogs and books are commercially printed to provide customers information on a wide range of products and services. These can vary in size, quality, and quantity.
Other commercial printing products widely used are catalogs, brochures, flyers, booklets, magazines, calendars, posters, cards, reports, presentation folders, and tags.
What’s The Difference Between Commercial Printing And Packaging Printing?
Packaging printing is a specialist area of the industry that concentrates on bespoke solutions for companies presenting their products in a particular way. Whereas commercial printing is mainly produced on paper, packaging printing utilizes a wider range of substrates from board to plastics.
Commercial printing also tends to use four-color ink processes but in packaging printing Pantone colors and other special inks are common. Generally packaging is used to encourage a customer to buy products, or as a convenient way to display or transport them.
A commercial printer is set up to produce multiple jobs as quickly and as economically as possible. This means they often use common paper sizes and finishing methods to keep costs down. As a rule, each packaging job is unique and is time-consuming to set up and finish. However, the print runs are very long and regularly repeated.
For example, the packaging of food products for supermarkets is produced in vast quantities and is constantly being reprinted.
Packaging printing is also generally throw away or recycled after use. It has a short life span once it has served its purpose.
Commercial printing normally demands a higher quality of reproduction, particularly of images, than packaging printing. A commercially printed catalog of jewelry will need to be of a much higher quality than a snack packet for a supermarket for example.
How Is Commercial Printing Produced?
A commercial print company will use digital and offset processes to produce a job.
Digital print processes have improved vastly over the last few years and now it can be difficult to tell which method has been used on a printed job. Offset litho printing is still widely used as it offers advantages over some of the digital processes. Offset printing is used often for longer runs, certain paper specifications and the use of Pantone colors. It also produces top quality results and can handle specialist features such as varnishing and metallic inks.
Letterpress, screen printing, gravure and flexographic are print processes that are also employed to a lesser extent but mainly for specialized print services. For example, newspapers are often printed on huge web offset presses as volume and speed are the most important factors. Garment printers may use screen printing where speeds and volumes are not as important.
The printing company will choose which method to use for each print job. There are many factors that influence which process and machinery are used. The print run is the most common factor as smaller quantities are often better suited to digital processes. Offset presses can run at much higher speeds and handle a wider range of paperweights and inks. However, it takes longer to set up and prepare a print job for an offset press. This means it is more expensive for smaller quantities.
Your commercial print supplier will advise you on the most suitable method for your job.
Costs and Prices
There are two uses of commercial printing as far as a customer is concerned.
Some are used for promotional reasons, such as flyers, or internal use, such as letterheads. These printed items are given away or used in the company, so there is an overhead cost. A business needs to ensure its printing is produced at an economical cost for the purpose it serves. If a business is producing a catalog showing its products and giving it away, it needs to ensure its costs will be covered.
Many commercially printed products are sold as items on their own. Common examples are books, newspapers, magazines, calendars, postcards, and posters.
It is important that these are produced by the commercial printer at the most economical price and to the highest standards. If not, they either will not sell or the customer will not make the expected profit on each item.
Generally, the more items that are printed on a print run, the lower the unit cost.
Anticipating the correct amount of commercially printed material for each job is a difficult skill.
Choosing a Commercial Printer
It is very important to select a print company that will supply your job at a good price, to the required quality and on time. A good commercial print company will have a range of modern machinery, be able to supply print and paper samples and offer advice to their customers.