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Print Your Own Labels and Fliers

Updated on December 8, 2011

Advanced Technologies are bringing the complications of printing into an easy and affordable option for small-run jobs. Desktop computers that can do complicated tasks and work with photos are more user-friendly, and are taking on a feasible reality. High-quality and “acceptable-quality” printers are easily available to the novice and home-office worker. High grade and coated papers are available in small quantities at office-supply or paper stores. These and automation are helping to make small-run jobs affordable.

Long-run printing is usually done on metal plates, which requires several significant steps to accomplish: First, a designer has to plan how the piece is to look based on your company and your market. Then a graphic artist pulls research, specifications and instructions into one piece by typing text and creating or finding the artwork and creating a design, then printing it to proofing paper for Quality Control. What follows is a proofing process if the customer chooses. When the image is ready and approved, it is put through a process called “Preflight.” This assures that the finished product will not have problems such as a bad reading on a font, or misinterpreted color usage. Because there are so many different computers and applications that can go toward the realization of one product, anything can easily go wrong when the art is processed by another type of computer. Preflight takes care of that problem.

Next, the image is rasterized and turned into dots so that it will go onto a plate - and then onto paper - in well-defined patterns. A plate is made, and put onto the press. Paper has to be cut and/or loaded into the press, its thickness measured to assure there won’t be double sheets in one pass. Ink color is mixed either manually, or by using different plates on the same press. Its flow is adjusted, based on ink coverage desired. A water/alcohol liquid has to be applied in sync with the ink to assure proper ink repulsion on non-printing areas of the plate. Registration of multiple images or colors is necessary before the full run is underway. Often, humidity in the air and temperature variations require compensation of varying types by the pressman. Afterwards, the ink has to be cleaned out of the ink fonts, and rollers and machine parts have to be cleaned, serviced and oiled.

Folding and cutting and sorting come next, depending on the type of job. After that, packaging and labeling. What I’m saying in these last three paragraphs, is that set-up costs in offset printing necessitate a long-run or high volume printing in order for each piece to be cost-effective. If someone wanted 50 brochures that are run offset, each brochure could cost between three and six dollars. But if 2,000 were ordered, then each brochure would cost only pennies. When I was an offset printer, someone once asked me if I could get them 300 fliers in a hurry, and asked how long it would take. I told him, “Three hours.” He then asked, “How about just 20, for now?” I then answered, “Two hours and 55 minutes.”

Getting back to the modern world: Technology has reached the point of being able to help us to do low-volume work at a reasonable cost. Offset is still the way to go, especially for high-run products, but the time may soon come when “Digital Printing” and other modern printing methods will be competitive.

Meanwhile, someone who wants to start a business with minimal capital can take advantage of the new technology available. If a box with a label is needed, there’s no need to order 1,000 printed boxes from a box-printing company; you can buy boxes at a paper store or a restaurant supply company that are scored, but not folded, and then buy labels that will fit in your printer. Nice designs can be printed on many different types and sizes of labels, and placed on the boxes. A wide variety of pre-printed stickers can be purchased for added decoration and promotion, like the golden “Home Made Candies” starburst on the candy box pictured above.

Also, the innovation of “print on demand” publishing utilizes automation and minimal human involvement. Because I formatted my own book and designed its cover, I was able to buy two or three perfect-bound books, complete with a glossy cover for about 12 dollars each. In other words, they looked just as good and professional as any other paperback you see from offset publishers. In my case, I bought a bar code, which costs extra, but the investment was still very affordable. Just do an internet search using “print on demand,” and you’ll find several places that will help you.


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    • SamboRambo profile image

      Samuel E. Richardson 6 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

      Thank you, Brina & Jeff. I see you are quite the bindery man, Jeff. I've done a lot of that, too, but not extensively, like you.

    • profile image

      Jeff_McRitchie 6 years ago

      This is a great overview of the printing process. It's very informative. Good job!

    • Brinafr3sh profile image

      Brinafr3sh 6 years ago from West Coast, United States

      Nice article, I make my own flyers, brochures, and mailing tags. But I think it's real cool that you designed your own book covers. That inspirational.

      (useful, vote up)