Opinions an comments wanted...


Well-known member

I am currently a small digital print provider and looking to upgrade my machine shortly...

My question is not relating to which machine to buy, as i have read about as many opinions as i can take!

My question is an observation sort of... I come from an off-set printing background traditionally... and reading some of the posts on your forums talking about large digital print volumes of 500,000 to 1,000 000 + clicks per month... I am struggling to work out what exactly you guys are printing to achieve these volumes, as surely with these sorts of volumes would it not be more cost effective to print offset...

The purchase price of a lot of these top end machines is equivalent and sometimes in excess of what you can buy a good used 4 or 5 colour offset press with, and you won't have as many issues with quality, especially degradation over time and the machines value after 5+ years...

So i am just curious, what are you printing that needs to be digital at these volumes ??? is it mostly direct mail and VD or heavily versioned print ??? or is it a turn-around time issue or ???


Well-known member
Well its a mix - I know of a newpaper who has an Igen4-110. They use it to do a lot of short run printing. I don't think a lot if any is VD but its qty of 5,000 or less and they have it scheduled non-stop.

I also know that a lot of hybrid shops that have high volume op for an iGen.


Well-known member
those volumes mentioned 500,000, and 1000,000 is total for all jobs, most of them in much smaller amounts for each job.
certainly offset is better if we have 500,000 of each job, but customers's lately require few hundreds to few thousands and want them ysterday. so digiatl printing is the answer here


Well-known member
Hi Natty,

I am guessing you will receive some pretty varied replies to this question, but I can give you my personal take on it.

I worked at a couple of different places that added digital printing capability to their traditional printing mix. In most cases, the larger digital runs were for full-color variable data, or versioning applications. There were instances, as you mentioned, where turn-around time dictated that jobs that would normally be produced by traditional means had to be run digitally because the other equipment was down, or the press schedule was full and the customer had no other options.

Currently, I am helping a manufacturing company in getting their own in-house print shop up and running. They do pretty high volumes on their digital equipment, and one reason for this is inline booklet making capability and other inline finishing options. Once something comes out the other end, it is a completed piece. It gives them a lot of control of their output. Straight into a box and shipped to their distributors around the country.

My guess also is that some of these shops have a large customer base that constantly send them smaller run jobs that all add up to the volumes of 500,000-1,000,000 clicks per month. This is very attainable in my experience if you have a lot of repeat weekly/monthly type of work coming from say 20-30 different customers.

I look forward to hearing other people's thoughts on this, it is an interesting question.


Well-known member
For us it's all about the weekly work, all VDP and all quick turns. Mostly versioning, or things like different maps, gift premiums, thank you letters, or PURLS. We are the printing arm of a decent size lettershop, so it's mostly cards and letters. We are also doing quite well with short run digital envelopes lately.
reply to opinion wanted

reply to opinion wanted

We are a small copy shop on the high street.

For us it is very small runs e.g. 100 copies of an 8 pp A5 booklet such as you find in an order of service for a wedding or funeral. Colour may only be on the outside cover, but it is needed tomorrow or even later today. Maybe some SRA3 full colour posters and then a few A5 leaflets for a new artisan starting up.

By far the biggest work for us is solicitors and their court documents, mostly in black & white, but more and more often a full colour document full of photographs is included.

Second would be architects & quantity surveyors documents again mostly black & white and full of specifications and then a bunch of photographs at the end.

Our big quantity items are outsourced to offset litho printers either sheet fed or web fed depending on quantity, the usual letterheads, compliment slips, business cards and NCR sets etc.


Well-known member
Thank you for your replies...

Yes i know that we are not talking 1 run of 500,000 .... but that is a lot of small runs lets say 1000 sheets on average thats 500+ jobs per month ... but i guess its achievable from some of the comments....

You mention the iGen kicking in at under 5000 sheets... surely it is more cost effective to print this offset when you take into account that plates are very cheap in reality and the cost of ownership of the machine ???

Aren't you worried that the large solicitor and architect firms are just going to eventually install the same machines (well say xerox 700 or konica 6501) at their own offices themselves and cut you out of the picture ???

The worrying thing is when i speak to the reps from xerox and konica they can't help but tell me how they are installing these machines in non-commercial environments all the time .... I don't see how this helps us the print provider ???


Registered Users
You don't need to worry about places installing their own printshops, except in extreme circumstances. Owning large digital machines is a pain. It costs a lot to buy / lease and you usually have to pay a fee based on usage which covers your maintence contract.

Most companies aren't looking for opportunities to get directly involved in the "booming" print industry. Sure they might save a bit of cost on their printing, but they also have to commit to long term contracts, as well as set up a print location. There are already established digital and offset printers that are really good at what they do and don't charge too much either, so that's where most of the business goes if the customer is trying to save money.

Mark H

Well-known member
and reading some of the posts on your forums talking about large digital print volumes of 500,000 to 1,000 000 + clicks per month...

We do 1.4 million/month and 100% is variable data in the form of invoices/statements/appointment reminders along with data driven transpromo ads.

Mark H


Well-known member
You all definitely give me some BIG goals. We struggle just to do 10K a month.I would LOVE to be even doing 25 or 50K a month let alone 500K or 1M hahahah.

Doc Skinner

New member
Your volume will come. We've built our volume from 15k to 90k in three years without a concerted marketing plan. Now I'm looking to get to the 250k level because I'm getting the marketing thing figured out. Since I don't know what you are doing now, I won't comment on what you should do to get there but start by marketing to your current customers. Good luck!
Aren't you worried that the large solicitor and architect firms are just going to eventually install the same machines (well say xerox 700 or konica 6501) at their own offices themselves and cut you out of the picture ???
Actually these clients already have inhouse print rooms, we are only taking up their overspill, due to too much demand, machine breakdowns, staff absence, etc.


Well-known member
I see businesses that have machines capable of running stuff they send out but they send it out because or what needs to be done after the printing. Folding, making books, cutting etc.

They don't have the ambition, or manpower to be making books or putting packets together by hand that I see my print shop customers doing.

Even places that have in house print shops send out things they could print but can't do the finishing on because they don't have the additional equipment for that.


Well-known member
This thread is very interesting as I am all digital and wondered what these other printers are doing to hit 6 figure impressions. Like postnetnc133, I struggle to do 10k and would love to triple that; all in due time I suppose. After reading this thread, I understand the humongous quantities a bit more. What I think my problem is, my customer will do 50 booklets but then they get their business cards raised... can't print that in house. And then they'll order 10,000 brochures... can't do that in house either. I guess that's why our industry experts say the hybrid print shop will survive...er, I mean the the hybrid marketing services provider!:p

Controlling the Purse Strings


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