online printer for specialty paper and overall print questions because I know nothing

theflow's picture

Does anyone have any experience printing on specialty paper?
I'm a complete newb when it comes to commercial printers.

Most online printers have such bad quality paper stock, I want to use my own stock paper from a specialty mill.

The stocks I want to use are typically 110lb to 120lb and do not really work well with laser, I would need an offset printer or some other alternative?

Are there any online places that specialize in printing on specialty papers that except full color files?

Would it be better to just go to a local printer with my paper?

Also how does the paper size and cut work in offset printers? I can order many different size papers, but which sizes work best for a printer? Say I need business card size or invitation, how exactly do the printers print the sizes, before or after they are cut?

I know about letterpress and litho, but that is out of my price range ( I think). What I really want is to order some great specialty paper and hand it over to an offset printer with my files and say how much..finding out how to do that is more difficult than I though it would be.

Any advice appreciated,

Cheers.

blank's picture

Would it be better to just go to a local printer with my paper?

You need to go to a local printer and they will order the paper for you. Good printers will probably not let you supply the paper because it’s not cost-effective to do business with people too cheap to pay the paper markup. Just call up some printers and ask to talk to someone in sales.

theflow's picture

I don't mind paying the markup, what I do mind is it not being available, taking to long to order, and being an overall hassle when I have the paper right in my hands. Also some printers have deals with certain distributors, what if I want paper from another mill that they do not carry, do I have to find another printer, not as easy as it sounds. The mark-up on the paper is not exactly bumping up the bottom line a whole lot for smaller jobs of 300-500, which is what I'm looking for.

JamesM's picture

> Say I need business card size or invitation, how
> exactly do the printers print the sizes, before or
> after they are cut?

Depends on the specifics of the job, but typically printers will use large sheets and will print several copies per sheet, then cut them apart after they're dry. Printing multiple copies on each sheet greatly reduces the length of time that the printing press is tied up with the job.

But for small jobs -- like a few hundred flyers that are 8.5 x 11 -- a printer may just put the job on a small press and print them 1-up, since the entire job will only take a few minutes to print anyway.

> Would it be better to just go to a
> local printer with my paper?

Most online printers are in the business of providing cheap printing, so it's unlikely they'd work with special stocks just for you, so a local printer might be your best bet. However it's very unusual for a customer to provide their own stock, so they'd probably increase the price since they aren't getting their markup, and you'd need to give them plenty of extra sheets for test copies during setup and so forth.

If it's an unusual stock, keep in mind that the printer may have no experience printing on it and the results may not be optimal.

JamesM's picture

Forgot to answer the "business card" part of your question. With an offset press I believe they typically print several per sheet, even if only a small number are being printed. They don't want a tiny little piece of paper going through the press.

oldnick's picture

The mark-up on the paper is not exactly bumping up the bottom line a whole lot for smaller jobs of 300-500, which is what I'm looking for.

The per-unit cost is going to look outrageous no matter what, with a quantity that small. Since you can get ten to twelve up (depending on bleed) on a standard letter-size sheet, your printer is likely to use as many--or more--sheets setting up this job than actually printing it.

theflow's picture

Thanks JamesM, going to try my luck with some local printers.

tmac's picture

I feel there could be a new generation of printers out there. A new private press.

Many people working in print now have been working since the 1970s and they are a bit stuck in their ways. First thing out of their mouth is usually, "When I started we did paste-up and you don't even know what that is, you punk." And they drive around in cameros with fuzzy dice dangling from the mirror. And they recollect the 80s and 90s where the money was big, the parties were wild and the coke shipped clean and direct from a cartel.

Many printers haven't aligned themselves service-wise with how the world is now. And nor have the paper companies: their product is all tied up in levels of distribution, each distributor pulling in their cut.

Recently a printer visited me because he wanted me to print with him. He brought in a bunch of pizza fliers and blow-in ads for magazines and newspapers. I'm like, "Why are you showing me this junk? I get it in the mail every day."

I want to print things that honor the tree-matter used in the process. This usually would mean short runs with innovative techniques (how it folds, how it binds, etc etc). It's hard to find a printer who will work with you in this way.

But they are out there. You have to find them and make a relationship. A good printer helps with the creative -- if they are good and you have a good relationship with them, they are likely to provide ideas of paper, techniques and ways to limit costs.

In any case: I've spoken with some printers about bringing in my own stock. They are reluctant, but you can get the paper specs from the manufacturer then send the specs to the printer to ensure it will work on their machine with their inks.

The horrifying thing you learn about is make-ready. Say I want 60 envelopes printed. I would have to buy about 120 envelopes, because 60 will shoot through the press and into the waste. (No different than screen-printing really.)

Back to the notion of private press: I see people (designers/artists) buying letterpresses, risographs, and more professional silkscreening equipment. I hope this continues to grow.

Alternatively, most of the online stuff is gang-run on a given stock. This makes it cheaper, but it sounds like you would prefer to do custom work.

oldnick's picture

The horrifying thing you learn about is make-ready. Say I want 60 envelopes printed. I would have to buy about 120 envelopes, because 60 will shoot through the press and into the waste. (No different than screen-printing really.)

Actually, setup for offset lithography is VERY different from setup for silk-screen.

tmac's picture

Oldnick,

Understood. What I mean is when I'm silkscreening, I make a huge mess of bad prints before I get to what I want. But I'm no master silkscreener, that's for sure.

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