Friday, June 5, 2009

Combining Roto and Web Offset on the Same Product

By Jack Graber
Part 3 of a 3-part series. (See part 1, "Rotogravure: A Missed -- and Misunderstood -- Opportunity for Publishers" and part 2, "Advantages of Rotogravure vs. Web Offset".)

For many publishers, the answer is not heatset web offset or rotogravure but rather a combination of the two. They may print the bulk of the body pages rotogravure but use offset for covers and for press forms with small page counts or different versions.

So the answer of when to use gravure is going to be based on several factors:

  • The size of your publication

  • The number of pages

  • The quantity to be printed

  • The number of versions

  • The paper type

All of these factors must be considered before making your final selection. Many people are under the mistaken impression that you must have a large number of pages to use rotogravure. Yet a 16-page catalog with 6 million copies may be an ideal candidate for rotogravure, whereas a 64 page book for 500,000 may require a closer analysis.

As a general rule, it is the number of impressions that are the important factor. If the page counts are too small and the impressions after filling the press running 4 or 5 up are too small, then rotogravure would not be economically viable. On the other hand, if the page counts are larger, then printing a gravure form is definitely something that should be examined.

Recent advances in the digital engravers (pictured above) that make the rotogravure cylinders have increased speed and accuracy and have somewhat reduced the breakeven quantity needed to look at the gravure process. With today’s technology, you can definitely go below the one-million impression count that used to be inviolable in the United States.

So analyze the factors described, establish a solid partnership with your print supplier and consider mixing a rotogravure printed form with your offset covers for maximum flexibility, quality, and cost savings. At the end of the day, the right understanding and analysis – not your publication’s size -- will determine whether you can benefit from gravure.

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