Digital Finishing: Different Paths to Success
Not all printers feel that they must have in-house finishing to be profitable. Philadelphia-based M3 Printing, which offers software development, managed IT services and business consultation alongside printing services, prefers to outsource a lot of its finishing work.
"We are a printer, but we embrace the brokering side of things, as well," says Barry Carr, managing member of M3 Printing. "If we did everything under one roof, we'd have a billion dollars worth of equipment and 99 percent of it would be sitting idle 99 percent of the time."
Carr's background is network administration and programming, so he used his expertise to develop a CIP3-driven (International Cooperation for Integration of Prepress, Press, and Postpress) finishing workflow that makes his operation incredibly efficient. The software, called Printing in a Box, is marketed to the industry through another company.
M3 Printing's core printing business is built around Internet gang runs of business cards, postcards and brochures. It focuses on short- and medium-run lengths (up to 40,000) produced off the company's array of digital and offset presses.
"Everything is laid out, maximized and optimized by technologies that I've created," Carr says.
On the cutting end, M3 utilizes the CIP3 print production format to drive its Prism P78 paper cutter. This allows 25 business cards to be produced for the same amount of effort as doing 100,000. "We are the mom-and-pop with gadgets," Carr beams. "We are one of the few printers which uses CIP technology that is not a $40 million printing company."
Printing in a Box is a complete e-commerce system, including production workflow, invoicing and fulfillment. Carr calls it "invoicing, folding, production management, MIS, CRM, POS, and all those acronyms bundled into one."
"A lot of other companies claim they offer CIP3, but I'm a printer and I designed it," he says.