Sheetfed Offset, Web Offset, Digital : Defining Crossover Points
"For the static commercial printing we do, our crossover points are determined by quantity," says Jack Emery, vice president of Data Solutions Management, but "we don't use a rule of thumb whereby we hit this number of impressions and automatically push a job from one technology to another." Instead, "assuming digital and offset fit every parameter of a given job, we'll estimate it both ways (accounting for the impact of digital click charges on the total cost calculation), and go with the one that's most cost-effective."
If the piece will fit on both an HP Indigo and an offset press, for example, "it's strictly a cost decision," he adds. "Other things come into play, of course, like available capacity and turnaround time, in which case we might make a decision based on time expectations or what the client is accustomed to."
In general, according to Emery, Sandy Alexander's clients are willing to pay a premium for speed and complexity, which are easy to quantify, and for quality, which is harder, he admits. "There are many times a job might be run more cheaply on offset, but we can turn it faster on a digital press. We may very well go digital because the client is willing to pay a premium for the fast turnaround. On the other hand, when there are specific things we can't provide digitally, such as sheet size or finishing, coating, multiple colors or varnishes that we can't apply off-line to a digital component, we'll choose offset."
Crossover points between available technologies also may depend on the type of work being produced, as well as the purpose for which it is intended.
Prisma Graphic, a commercial printing, Web-to-print and direct mail solutions provider based in Phoenix, promotes itself as a channel marketer and a provider of hybrid solutions, including commercial sheetfed, web offset, static digital and variable printing, along with offering extensive ordering via its online DokShop storefront.