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Beautiful prints can really make your brand stand out in a retail store. Your designers know this, and we’ve seen some memorable signs in our shop as a result of all of that creativity. However, rolling out these grand ideas for all of your retail locations can be costly without proper planning. These quick tips will help you save money on your large format printing projects.

Save Money on Large Format Printing – Three Tips

1. Involve Your Print Vendor Early
The earlier the better. Most print vendors assign a dedicated customer service person to your account and he or she can be your biggest resource for production planning. Getting the printer on board during the planning phase of your project gives them an opportunity to recommend alternate products or processes. There are significant differences between wide format printing processes (such as speed, materials and turn times) that can greatly influence the final price of your project.

Having your print provider involved early in the planning phase also allows them to properly schedule the production time needed for your project. Ask them to give you deadlines for file submissions and proof approvals in addition to quoting a turn time for you. Having these pieces agreed upon in advance will save you potential hassles (and rush charges) later in the project.

2. Use the Right Materials for the Job
The best materials available and the right materials for your job are not necessarily the same thing. Consider this example: For Christmas, your stores are offering a special event. For each store, you need 5 large (24″w x 36″h) signs to tell customers about the sale. You have 50 stores so that’s a total of 250 signs.

Let’s say you choose to inkjet print, laminate and then mount the large boards to Gatorboard. Inkjet produces a photo-worthy print, the lamination will protect your print from handling marks and the Gatorboard will stay nice and even without warping. On the surface, it seems like the best choice for looking your best in the stores.

But do you really need all of that? Today’s technology and print machines offer a few alternatives for this scenario that could easily save you a substantial amount of money without compromising the look of your graphic.

What if you printed direct to the board instead of to paper? Flatbed printers have come a long way from their initial rollouts and can now print in such a good resolution that the untrained eye would not be able to tell it isn’t inkjet. Plus, since the inks are UV cured instantly, this process eliminates the need for lamination. With this option, you would drop paper and lamination costs. You would also save on production time costs since a flatbed process is usually faster than inkjet.

What if you switched materials? Styrene is known for holding ink well, while being light and easy to cut for sign applications. It also rolls easily, so shipping large graphics to multiple stores will be much cheaper than rigid boards.

Talk to your customer service rep about how choosing different print options can save you money on your large format printing.

3. Avoid Extra Charges
Do your part to avoid adding charges during the production run. If your print provider has quoted you based on receiving print-ready art files and the files you submit are not set up properly, you could incur prepress charges for the printer’s design team to correct the errors. Ask for a file submission guideline for the print process that you are using and make sure that your team follows those guidelines.

In addition, if you don’t get the files to your printer or approve the proofs by the agreed upon date, it may cause wrinkles in production that mean addition charges to you. Many print production houses run at full capacity and there are likely projects scheduled after yours (with due dates of their own) that will be compromised if your project doesn’t get completed on time. To keep you on schedule, the printer will most likely need to add overtime to his shifts, and those costs could be added to your project as rush fees.

Finally, if you have a drop dead date for receipt of items in your store, work with your print provider to set a finish date that will allow you to ship your project at ground shipping rates. Overnight freight charges can be astronomical, if your signs have a long way to travel.