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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.

When it comes to running a small or mid-sized business, there is a constant dilemma of deciding where to save and where to spend. With a limited budget, business owners need to be savvy about what constitutes a worthwhile use of their funds. One area where it’s tempting to save is printing. As many offices have large printers, printing promotional or marketing material could be done in house. Nonetheless, there are many instances where you’re better off hiring a professional for a printing job.

Read on to find out the main reasons and situations in which professional printing is a much better option that at-home printing (even if it does cost a bit more).

Quality

There’s no doubt that exceptional professional printing will be of much higher quality than anything you can do at home. This applies both to the quality of the paper, which will be specially selected for your job, and the quality of the printing itself. Professional printing will give you the truest-to-life colors, the cleanest lines, and the crispest images to ensure that your final product is polished and perfect.

Customization

There are plenty of tasks professional printers can tackle that are tricky (and often incredibly frustrating) to do on your own. Printing customized envelopes or double-sided postcards on cardstock can test the knowledge and equipment of most at home printers. Additionally, there are some jobs that most home printers can’t tackle at all. If you’re printing large scale graphics, you may need a printer with wide-format options — or one that can print to the edge of the paper. This something that most household or office machines simply can’t handle.

Quantity

Printing a few flyers or a sheet of mailing labels at home is one thing, but if the scope of your job is much larger, it’s best left to professionals. With large batch jobs, professional printing also becomes more cost effective as the cost of each print is lowered. Not only will you pay less per print, but many people attempting a DIY printing job don’t factor in the cost of paper and ink cartridges when calculating costs. For large jobs, these costs can add up quickly, and professional printing isn’t that much more expensive but delivers a much cleaner final product.

Finding a Professional Printing Specialist

If you’re in need of a printing job that is best left to professionals, make sure you do your research to find a qualified and reputable printing specialist. There’s nothing worse than deciding to spend the money on something to have it turn out no better than what you could have done at home.

Look online and check out customer reviews for printing specialists in your area. Get quotes for your job from a number of printing professionals before you settle on one. Be wary of any quotes that are far cheaper than the others — a much lower price likely means that quality will be sacrificed in some way. In many cases, professional printing is a small investment considering the value added to your print projects!

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