Offset Still the Choice For Quality
The print shop dynamic is generally driven by the conflicting demands of cost, speed and quality. Today's copiers and digital printers are the kings of speed, for example, yet the payment plans imposed by manufacturers might drive the cost so high on large jobs that printers must turn elsewhere.
That's where offset presses still shine. Despite all the hype from printer and copier manufacturers, offset presses still provide benefits that can't be found any other way. Print shop managers recognize this and are resisting the call to overthrow their old print regime in favor of an all-digital environment.
Why are offset presses still essential in the 21st century? A handful of in-plant managers offer their reasons and explain why offset is unlikely to disappear anytime soon.
Offset Printing Translates Into Lower Costs
Renn: "My customers would keel over when they saw the bill if I ran their long-run [jobs] on my color copier. The cost per copy is effective only for shorter runs. I use offset because I can drop the bottom out of the price and allow customers to do more with less, which builds customer loyalty. My presses are fully depreciated now, so the only things I pay for are the operator, ink, paper and the rare service call. Presses rarely go down in the middle of the job, and they're relatively inexpensive to purchase compared to digital devices. Copiers are more demanding, and often managers find themselves working for the copier versus the customer, trying to push volume at these hungry digital devices just to cover lease costs. This doesn't always end up doing their customers justice."
Criswell: "All of the presses are between 25 and 30 years old, yet I still do 60 to 70 percent of the impressions on offset, including forms of any volume, letterhead and business cards. All of my color printing is short run and done on the press. Most people don't do four-color work on single-color presses because of the added drying time and potential register problems, but for financial reasons we haven't upgraded. It's not as efficient, but it works and the machines were paid for long ago."