Help determining what type of printer would be needed to create this type of print

Hello,

I'm very new to the commercial printing space and am finding it extremely difficult to find and weigh out the different qualities of the various types of printers. I'd like to explain what I am trying to do and with that information try and narrow down some specific models/types of printers which may work for me.

I'm looking to do very low production run quantities, something along the lines of 1-50.
The print size is uniquely long and rectangular, approx 9 x 36" to 18 x 48"
The type of paper would primarily be a medium cardstock
The prints would contain photos/text on an array of background colors
The final product will be folded into an accordion style brochure very similar to the attached photo.

From what I've looked into, I've seen some large format printers that sound like they would work great. The Roland VersaUV LEC2-300 appears to be a good match as it has built in creasing/cutting/UV which would greatly simplify the post print production. The downside to this particular model is that it is moderately on the high-side for cost as this is a very small/startup operation. I'm not opposed to buying used.

Is there anything that I'm overlooking which may be a better fit for my needs? I have thought about partnering with a local print shop however due to the very low production run of these prints I feel like the margins would be far too stressed.

Thank you all for reading and I appreciate any/all suggestions!
 

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Ynot_UK

Active member
Most of the modern digital presses support banner printing, which would give you something like 330mm x 1200mm in the case of the KM3070. Not quite the max width you mentioned, but may be worth a look? Quality is good and they’re fast.
 
Most of the modern digital presses support banner printing, which would give you something like 330mm x 1200mm in the case of the KM3070. Not quite the max width you mentioned, but may be worth a look? Quality is good and they’re fast.
Thank you for the response, Ynot. As much as the KM3070 looks amazing, it would be far outside my price range and would likely be beyond overkill for my needs. Because of such low quantity runs speed isn't a big priority. I know this is pretty small potatoes compared to most of the people here but I would like to explore options <10k USD, sub 5k would be even more ideal!
 

bill kahny

Well-known member
IMO that job exceeds the true production limits of OKI and similar desk top machines. Besides you need the finishing requirements and equipment. Do yourself a favor build a relationship with an established good quality printer in your area, there are alot of us out here and we've tried that done that.
 
Maybe look at something from the OKI range?
I have not looked at the OKI line and I was surprised at the custom length capabilities in their economical model. The limitations that I can see is that it would lead to requiring finishing for coatings which still might be the most economical. Their production (C9) models look perfect however the price difference took me back as they appear to be about $20k. Thank you for the recommendation, I'll reach out to one of their reps and see if they can't help me

Are you planning on these being single or double sided?
Single sided. Double would be nice but I wouldn't consider that a mandatory feature.

IMO that job exceeds the true production limits of OKI and similar desk top machines. Besides you need the finishing requirements and equipment. Do yourself a favor build a relationship with an established good quality printer in your area, there are alot of us out here and we've tried that done that.
Hi Bill, I absolutely agree and initially wanted to take this route to keep overhead to a minimum. My concern with this approach is that most of these prints will be 1-offs and my thoughts about having a 3rd party print these would not be cost effective for them or myself. I'm not even sure what the weekly output would be, initially I'd expect <20. Is this a realistic thought on the matter? Would print shops generally accept such low quantity jobs without charging an absolute premium?
 
@CaptainFill, with your low volumes and only needing 1-sided, an HP DesignJet Z9 24" model will work well (on sale now for $2,695). You will also need a rotary trimmer like this one to cut them to full bleed, and if they fold as shown in the photo, you should get a manual creaser for cleaner folds and to prevent cracking.
Thank you for the suggestion and accompanying finishing tooling! I keep feeling like the wide format route makes the most sense for my application, the model you suggested looks nice and priced in my alley. I understand that this wouldn't have a built in UV function however do you know with its "optional gloss enhancer" would it be able to create a glossy coating on cardstock material similar to the example photo? Thanks again!
 

jwheeler

Well-known member
I understand that this wouldn't have a built in UV function however do you know with its "optional gloss enhancer" would it be able to create a glossy coating on cardstock material similar to the example photo? Thanks again!
You didn't mention flood UV finish was a requirement. I'm pretty sure the clear UV ink feature in the Roland is not intended to be for a 'flood' uv finish (meaning the entire surface). Their brochures and videos I saw only show it used for spot UV. Not only would it be extremely expensive to do that because of the ink cost, but it's likely you would get some banding and uneven finish since its applied through a print head and not a roller. The best way to do a flood UV is with an actual flood UV coater which gives an even application of the fluid across the sheet.

I have an older generation of the HP model I suggested so I can understand what the gloss enhancer is for, though I've never used it. When printing onto a high gloss photo media, some of the dark areas can appear slightly matte (or bronzed) due to the ink. From the description, the gloss enhancer will make these dark areas maintain the glossiness of the rest of the areas. So no, I don't think it's going to give you the look of a flood UV, but if you use the right high gloss photo media, it should look pretty sharp. You can request free printed samples through the HP website...just make sure to select the right printer series and media.

By the way, HP isn't the only option...Epson and Canon have similar units for around the same price.
 

Stickman42

Well-known member
Would print shops generally accept such low quantity jobs without charging an absolute premium?
I know I wouldn't want to take on one copy of this from start to finish for very little money as there's a lot of folds there. If just one fold is off... What's your selling price for one?

How about you outsource the printing and do the creasing yourself?
 
You didn't mention flood UV finish was a requirement. I'm pretty sure the clear UV ink feature in the Roland is not intended to be for a 'flood' uv finish (meaning the entire surface). Their brochures and videos I saw only show it used for spot UV. Not only would it be extremely expensive to do that because of the ink cost, but it's likely you would get some banding and uneven finish since its applied through a print head and not a roller. The best way to do a flood UV is with an actual flood UV coater which gives an even application of the fluid across the sheet.
Thank you for the added information about the difference between spot and flood UV coating. I had no idea!

Cheers for the link to the request a sample link. I will definitely be doing that! You've been extremely helpful!

I know I wouldn't want to take on one copy of this from start to finish for very little money as there's a lot of folds there. If just one fold is off... What's your selling price for one?

How about you outsource the printing and do the creasing yourself?
That's a very interesting option that I had not considered.

I have not done thorough market research about pricing and because this is very niche. In my mind I'm gravitating towards something like 14.95 - 19.95 for a single 8x48" print which I would like to include free shipping in the US. Quantity would reduce this a bit but I think not less than $9.95/pc. Upsells would always be a thing too such as UV coating, quicker turnaround times, shipping, ect.

I believe that the margins would be more than sufficient being done in-house but outsourcing might take too much. Of course the benefits of having virtually no equipment overhead is a big benefit to that option.
 

PricelineNegotiator

Well-known member
I have not done thorough market research about pricing and because this is very niche. In my mind I'm gravitating towards something like 14.95 - 19.95 for a single 8x48" print which I would like to include free shipping in the US. Quantity would reduce this a bit but I think not less than $9.95/pc. Upsells would always be a thing too such as UV coating, quicker turnaround times, shipping, ect.

I believe that the margins would be more than sufficient being done in-house but outsourcing might take too much. Of course the benefits of having virtually no equipment overhead is a big benefit to that option.
Yeah. Good luck with that. I would just abandon this idea.
 

Ynot_UK

Active member
@CaptainFill it’s blunt but friendly advice, as your unit price is far too high and you won’t sell any. You said you’ve not done any market research, however in an earlier post indicated runs of between 1 and 50 and were quite specific about the finished size, so what have you based this on? What is your target customer?
 

PricelineNegotiator

Well-known member
The price per piece isn't high enough. You'll never be able to print a sheet that is ~13" x 50" including bleeds and margins, with reliable enough registration for folding. Combine that with your true cost to produce a single piece, and you'd definitely be losing money at the rates you proposed. Of course, you could print these on a wide format machine (~$40,000 or less Epson), but you'd be forced into using an ink vehicle with high enough quality that your cost to print versus a digital press would be approximately 10-20x higher per sheet. Those are the raw costs, not including the work that it takes to create an order form, process the credit card payment, the shipping label, labor for printing, labor for trimming, labor for creasing, and the labor to pack the job appropriately for shipping. Figure $1.50 per square foot for ink and substrates in the wide format realm.

You'll need a cutter than can trim 49"+ sheets. That's not going to be cheap. You'll also need the electricity to support this machine. Are you going to install this at your house? If not, then you'll need to factor in the costing for a brick and mortar. Where are you going to store your paper? Where are you going to get it from? A cutter would only be needed if you are pursuing a digital press versus a wide format solution.

How are you going to crease this? With a folding bone? I've never seen an automated creaser that handles a sheet this big. You'll need one with incredibly tight tolerances. Are you going to coat it before or after you crease it? Wide format prints are much more delicate than digital and offset prints. Did you know that the Epson Surecolor machines require most substrates to cure for 24 hours after printing, before finishing/laminating? How are you going to make money if one single piece registers, coats, creases, or packages wrong in a way where you need to reprint?

Unless you have a world-class press like an iGen, Iridesse or a BIG Ricoh production press, which are all above $400,000, the skew on a sheet over 48" is going to be unacceptable for a product that needs to be folded. Do not listen to any sales individuals from Ricoh or where ever, you will probably just never get something that is good enough to be sold the way you intend it to be. That is unless you run it on a wide format printer, but your cost to produce is going to eat you alive.

I don't think this is a viable business model. Someone else would already be doing it, and if they are, they are surely charging a lot more. Open and shut. Don't waste your time.
 
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