What’s the Difference Between DIY and Professional Printing?

Have you shopped online (or in the real world) for a printer lately? It’s surprising what you can get for the money these days. Not long ago, a sophisticated printer/scanner cost several hundred dollars, and you needed a whole table to put it on. These days, you can buy a good quality printer/copier/scanner for well under $100, and it comes in a small manageable device that can easily fit on the average desktop. It’s hard to imagine them becoming much smaller — although they probably will!

With all of this home printing out there — and with results being of surprisingly good quality — people are wondering more and more why professional printers are needed at all. After all, you can buy photo paper and print reasonably good quality prints right at home. Why shouldn’t you be able to print anything else you might need, whether it’s a wedding invitation or a flyer for your business? Why should it be necessary to hire a contractor to do something that anybody can do at home with an ordinary household device.

There are several possible answers, but the easiest one is this: Results. When you look at a professionally printed flyer or invitation, don’t you notice the difference? Everybody knows what it’s like to receive a piece of mail that looks poorly printed, as opposed to something crisp and bright and professional.

The cut of a professionally printed brochure or invitation is also an important detail worth noting. Aside from the crisper and fuller colors that result from professional (and well-maintained) printing equipment, you have literature that is precisely shaped and cleanly cut. This is often not the case with DIY or in-house projects, since a great deal of human error is involved in the cutting, and since there’s not much previous experience with printing and cutting.

Folded literature is another thing altogether. When folding machines are properly calibrated and used by an expert, the result is certainly noticeable when you hold it up next to a piece of literature that was folded by hand. There’s also the question of efficiency and time. When homeowners and business people undertake printing projects by themselves — at least projects that deserve more thought and care, like wedding invitations or business communications — they often underestimate how much time and effort they’re actually going to put into achieving a good result. And to be honest, 8 out of 10 times, that result is still noticeably less attractive and outstanding than the work of a professional.

There are a lot of differences between professional and DIY printing, but the main ones involved the equipment being utilized, and the knowledge/skill of the people using that equipment to work with businesses to achieve their goals. There are situations were you just need X amount of invitations or brochures, and there are other situations in which you need guidance on how to reach that particular business goal as efficiently as possible. Any professional printer you hire should be able to work on both levels, and should be able to give you valuable advice on any project that takes it above and beyond your expectations.