Large-format Printing — Size DOES Matter!
The goal for publication, catalog and book printers is to print quality products without cutting corners, but cut costs whenever plausible and possible, Hanson contends. Larger formats allow Branch Smith to print a high-end sheetfed product, but it can run twice as many signature pages per sheet, in this case, 32 instead of 16.
“Our large-format expansion is also having a direct effect on our bindery costs. For example, instead of having to handle 20 signatures for a job, there are now only 10, so fewer sheets have to be handled, cut, bound and so on. Press checks have been cut in half. If a client had to do 20 press checks, now they only have to do 10.
“Most of our total labor costs are from the bindery,” he continues. “There’s been a significant improvement in throughput since we installed the 51˝ press.”
The large-format press is saving money for Branch Smith, but, according to Hanson, ROI is complex because the investment also involved the cost of new large-format prepress and bindery equipment. Three new Stahl folders, an additional Muller Martini saddlestitcher and binder, and a 61˝ Polar cutter were installed, as well as a new Kodak Magnus VLF platesetter. Another part of the total investment, which must be taken into account when figuring the ROI, is Branch Smith’s expanded sales force that was brought in to handle the influx in business.
Large format is performing to, if not beyond, Branch Smith’s expectations in its core markets. Hanson says he didn’t go looking for more or different types of work. “We didn’t buy the press to enter new markets. But, somehow, new markets are finding us. Finding other applications is not what we intended, but since new applications seem to be finding us, of course, if they fit our business, we’ll take them.”