On Cost Reduction in Pre-press Design

How to cut cost is a common concern of all presswork operators who shall be proficient in the knowledge of plate-making and printingtechnology, printing cost standard, paper specification and function, and production capacity of printing house. In order to reduce cost, they shall rationally arrange the selection of technologies and paper materials according to the capacity of printing house during practical printing work.

Every book needs an overall design made by the designer who shall accomplish his work with considerations of content, property, amount of pictures and words, and readers. Cost is an important element in competition. We now take a look at how to reduce cost in the light of pre-press design.

1.Paper Format

Inappropriate selection of paper format would increase rim charge and decrease the applicable area of paper. Books with lots of short rows, such as poetry, adopts 32-mo,whose fore-edge and gutter have much margin. Using long narrow 36-mo could reduce paper consumption. If the format is too small, folding number and glazed material consumption would be high. In order to make printing easier and cut cost, it is recommended not to use irregular format.

2. Paper Material

Paper material accounts a lot in the book cost, usually more than 40%. Select paper material rationally is an important way to reduce cost.

For normal books, such as file collection, learning stuff, art and literature books, the paper-cover-binding only needs to use 52g/m2(called 52g hereinafter) intaglio paper, while the rich binding could use 60g or 70g offset paper.

Music and children’s books in black and white could use 60g paper, and in multi-color could use 80g offset paper.

Textbook usually adopts 49~60g relief paper; tool book in paper-cover uses 52g relief paper, while in rich binding uses 40g bible paper. General technical standard book could use 80~120g offset paper.

Pictures and album of paintings usually use 80~120g offset paper or 100~128g copper plate paper according to the fineness, selected offset paper or copper plate paper of the sheet size and gram weight. New-year picture and poster usually use 50~80g single-sided offset paper. Strip uses 52~50g relief paper. High-grade fine-art mini-picture uses 256g cellophane.

Magazines usually use 52~80g paper, while black and white ones adopt 60g writing paper or offset paper, and color ones adopt 80g duplex paper.

Cover, interleaf and flyleaf of books and magazines: cover of books less than 200 pages usually uses 100~150g paper, above 200 pages usually uses 120~180g paper; interleaf uses 80g~150g paper; flyleaf uses 80~150g paper according to the thickness of books.

For the same kind of paper, heavier weight means higher cost. Weight increase of text paper would lead to thickness increase of spine. Sometimes, weight and format of cover paper shall be adjusted, which would influence many aspects and finally increase cost of paper.

Rational selection of paper material does not mean do shoddy work. Using normal paper to print fine screen plate would cause the page fuzz and lead to invalidity. Normal readings can use newsprint paper, but books need to be preserved for a long time must not use newsprint paper, for it is easy to weather.

3. Page Quantity

In the process of making-up, zero page shall be avoided. Except text part, a book also includes other parts such as head page, preface, table of content, copyright page etc. Each part may use different paper. It’s not difficult to make the quantity of a kind of paper to be multiple of 4.

4. Binding Form and Layout Design

Usual book binding forms are: saddle stitching, flat stitching, thread sewing, offset binding etc. In saddle stitching, thread sewing and offset binding, the type page in the center spread could be designed small. While using flat stitching, it shall be bigger, for the gutter of flat stitching shall be about 5mm.

When design manuscript, the size of body type, density between rows, width of surrounding margin, line and blank line of headline etc are all affecting book cost. For example, for a book in 32-mo, the original design is: type face No. 5 in rank , 26 words×25 rows =650 words on every side, row space 5/8 strip, therefore a script with 240 thousand words needs 370 sides. If it is changed to: 26 words×27 rows=702 words, row space 1/2 strip, 342 sides are needed. The two forms differ in 28 sides. Book cost can be reduced by every aspect like page number, paper and binding. However, it’s not all good when layout is composed to be dense. For children’s book, word size and row space can not be too small. We shall reduce book cost as much as possible while ensuring conformity to book content and readers.

5. Cover Size

Cover shall be designed according to book size, spine thickness and flap size. Flap could be designed bigger while ensuring making print easy and saving paper. Most flaps could be above 30mm. However, some cover designer do not well know paper specification, format and performance of press, they fix flap size randomly without consideration of paper format. Therefore, paper waste is usually caused, for the product does not meet the requirement of paper specification and format. Most of book covers now need to be laminated after printing, thus cost is further increased.

For example, a book series have volume I and volume II. They are both 32-mo and each has about 600 sides. Use 52g paper to print, the spine is 22mm thick, and the cover adopts offset printing. Each volume is printed 20 thousand and be laminated after printing. If designers do not know the specification and format of paper well, and make the flap to be 65mm, 787×1092 1/16 paper is needed. If the flap is made to be 40mm according to paper format, 787×1092 1/8 paper can be used. Cost gap between the two including printing cost, paper cost and lamination cost would be 4000 Yuan or so. Thus we can see, designers shall have a sound knowledge of paper specification and format and take cost reduction into consideration in design, so as to avoid economic loss.

6. Decoration Material

When selecting materials for rich binding cover, feather, cotton, hemp, silk and fur shall be limited for use, use tough paper, varnished paper and leather cloth instead as much as possible. Except in special need, don’t use gold foils as stamping material, use hot stamping foil, color film etc instead, so as to cut cost.

7. Printing Technology

For normal 32-mo or 16-mo single or double-color books above 50 thousand volumes, rotary press is generally used, because its speed is high, book leaves are folded after printing, and printing cost is lower than flat press. But for books fewer than 50 thousand volumes, lead typesetting could adopt full-auto, part-auto or eight-page presses for printing. Laser typesetting could adopt B-B double-faced offset presses which are exclusively used for printing books and magazines and the printing cost is calculated according to ream. You could also use 01 or 08 type single-color offset presses which are single-face presses and the cost is also calculated according to ream. But B-B offset presses are faster but less-costing than single-color offset presses. Picture album which requires high quality shall use double-color or four-color offset presses. New year picture, front-back end paper and others which have big solid shall use single-color offset presses to ensure high quality.

Printers shall have proficient knowledge of presser performance and cost calculation standard, otherwise, high-cost printing technology may be adopted, and book quality may be affected.


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