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Designer's Checklist: 4 Questions to Ask Prospective Printers

If you’re looking for a high ROI on your next print project, choosing the right print partner can make all the difference. But if you’ve never worked with a particular print services provider before, then how can you be sure they’ll be a good fit? 

To help you evaluate your options, here are four questions that you can ask prospective printers.


1. What types of presses do you have?

You don’t necessarily need to know the manufacturer of the presses, but it’s important to know whether a prospective printer has digital press options, which could potentially lower the cost of your printing, especially if you only need small quantities. 

Additionally, ask if the presses are web offset or sheetfed, as this may affect your paper options. 

Another potential cost-saver: if you only need two colors printed, be sure to ask if the printer has a two-color press. Running two-color jobs through a four-color process can be an unnecessary use of resources if you can find a print shop with a two-color press. 


2. What are your in-line finishing capabilities?

If your project requires trimming, folding, addressing, inserting or any sort of bindery, it’s important to understand up front whether or not these finishes are done in-line. If they’re not, they may be sent out to a third-party finisher, which could affect your overall costs and may impede your ability to do quality control.


3. What other in-house services do you have?

It never hurts to ask about other services. For example, if your project requires a converted envelope, is your printer able to perform that service in-house? Do they make their own dies or do they work with a die maker? 

If you don’t require these services, then no big deal, but if you do, they can add up quickly. Every service that is sent out to a third party will increase your price, so asking these questions can give you better insight into the estimate your printer provides — and help you compare estimates across potential printers.


4. Where will the project be printed?

Even if your printer is local, that doesn’t necessarily guarantee that your entire job will be done locally. For example, your printer may do their own conversions, but their convertor facility is in another state. If parts of your project are not done locally, it may prevent you from being able to do press checks. And while press checks may not be considered essential these days, they’re a great way to educate yourself about print processes, develop a stronger relationship with your printer and ultimately design better for print in the future. 

Bring these questions to prospective printers, and don’t be surprised when they have questions for you, too. Printers may ask questions like:

  • What are your flat size and finished size?
  • What quantity do you need printed? 
  • Do you want bleeds or no bleeds? 
  • How many colors are you using?

Understanding your print job and your goals will help your printer provide you with a more accurate estimate and find ways to save on costs. 

Print service providers are more than happy to educate interested designers and are always interested in forming long-term partnerships with their customers. The earlier in the design process that you speak with a printer, the better you will be able to optimize your design for high ROI. And you might just find a print partner you love. 

Want to see some stunning designer/printer collaborations? Check out these featured projects