Printing Business Ideas: How to Start a Printing Business

We’ve been into the printing business for 24 years starting our enterprise in 1992. The business has evolved over the years from letter-set machines and graphic designers studiously arranging our art work.
To advanced computers and laser jet printer revolutionized the industry. Even the huge offset printing machines became smaller and smarter.
The capital requirements depend on the size and scope of the operation. A large press start-up capital goes from $30,000-$100,000.
It will cost around $10,000-$50,000 startup funds for a small to middle sized operation. There is room for freelancers with little or no funds to cash in on the venture.
The venture is relatively easy once you understand the rudiments and workings of the enterprise.  To get started in the print industry you need to understand the stages and methodology of the art.
Let’s first focus on how printing works before delving into the business aspect.
typesetting typewriter
How does it Work
Most jobs follow basically the same process and procedure. There might be slight variations but they are generally the same.
It does not matter if the subject matter is a handbill, poster, business card, billboard, book cover or pamphlet. The general processes will achieve the same result.
The Art Work
The printing process starts with the art work of the job you receive. In the past graphic artist used light boards to cut and paste words and letters to form a template.
The job was back braking and caused eye problems because of the fluorescent bulb used in the process. A single art work of a complementary card could take an entire day to arrange. Even company logs were done by other artists before adding it to the design.
Then, we had the computer, Microsoft Word, PageMaker and Corral draw. What took days became possible in a matter of minutes.
Once a job is accepted the computer is used by a graphic designer to create the art work. The art work represents how the finished product will look before going through the press.
Once the art work is finished it goes down the production line. Are you interested in design learn more about graphic design businesses.
The art work needs to go through the lithography process. The process involves converting the art work into a plated form.
These are special plates that receive the image through heat transfer. Lithography is similar to taking a photograph and developing it in the dark room.
For the process to work the lithographer takes an image of the art work with a special camera. The negative is then placed on the plate and exposed though light and heat transfer. The plate is then washed with a special chemical and a gum or fixer is applied.
The Camera
The camera used to expose the film is similar to regular cameras because it also has a lens. The art work is taken to the dark room a photo taken and exposed unto a film.
The process of taking the photograph is about five minutes. The lithographer then washes the film with special chemicals. The exposed film is then affixed to the plate and placed on the plate making machine.
Plate Making Machine
The process of applying light and heat to the plate is done by the plate maker. The film is exposed unto the plate and the image is impressed. The lithographer then washes the plate with a base chemical to reveal the impression.
printing machine
The Offset Machine
There are different specifications of plates from the 201 to cord plates. The same applies to types of printing machines and the size of plates they accommodate.
Regardless of the size or type of machine the plate goes through the same application. The operator affixes the plate to the machine applies color and the machine prints out the paper.
There are four basic color groups used for printing the yellow, magenta red, blue and black. Although there are other colors the major colors are able to produce any printout.
Handbills, complementary cards, letterhead papers and posters go through this process. Once the printing is done the paper is left to dry then the cutting and trimming.

Cutting Machine
The cutting machine is a heavy duty machine that cuts and trims paper. It is capable of cutting an entire rim of paper in half. The machine works through high voltage electricity, wheels, pedals and knobs to arrange and cut paper.
The Modern Method
Printing has developed even further than heat transfer and plating. There are some computers that send signals to machines jumping straight to impression.
The impression is the printing stage of the process. The machine does direct transfer and is best used in making banners and posters.
paper roll
Digital Printing
Printing has gone digital making it easier to do with less capital. The press owner needs less skilled staff to operate the enterprise.
The smaller equipment's are manageable, easy to handle and cost less than former offset printers.  All that is required is a computer and the digital equipment.
To start the enterprises consider the location, equipment, staff strength and marketing. You need capital to run the business for at least six months.
You can source funds from bank loans, a core investor or personal savings. Your office should have a secretary, computer graphic artist and print operator.
You need to register your business with the corporate affairs commission as a limited liability company. Join any association that has to do with printing or publishing.
Chose a Niche
Printing business is broad based and has may niche groups. You can choose to do offset print, digital or screen print which is manual impression of negative to different surfaces.
Screen printing
Screen printers convert art work to negative films. The negative films are then exposed unto a special mesh then impressed on a surface manually with ink.
Screen print niche covers impression on cups, plates, buckets handkerchiefs and plastic containers.  The tools used in screen printing are basic cheap and easy to handle.
You need a little practical experience to develop the simple skill. The screen printer needs only two equipment one to create the negative and the mesh.
Offset Printing
Offset printing has been explained earlier and is capital intensive. Many printing firms prefer this mode of printing because of its ability to produce large quantity of printed material.
Handbills, pamphlets, posters and letter headed paper are items commonly produced through offset method. Offset printers need lots of office space for their large machinery.
Equipment used includes computers, lithography machines, and offset machines.
List of things needed to start the enterprise
1             You need an office
2             Rent a large workshop for your machines
3             Buy a lithography machine
4             Buy an offset machine
5             The camera
6             You need a plate making machine
The price of the job is based on different parameters. Every stage of the production process is calculated and included in the final bill.
When calculating the price of jobs consider the typesetting, graphic work and cost of plate. Other things added are cost of impression, paper, transportation, cutting and labor cost.
Once you have done the arithmetic’s you add 28% of the overall figure to the final estimate. It looks a little complicated but you will get the hand of it eventually.
Quality of Work
You need to produce high quality work to attract customers. Create beautiful designs and use high quality machinery to print your jobs.
Try to meet deadlines because some jobs are time sensitive. Such jobs are obituaries, birthdays, wedding programs, anniversaries and corporate events.
The best marketing you can do is locating your office in a busy area. To attract customers use billboards and sign posts in front of your building.
Other methods are newspaper advertisements and hand bills. Offer your services to religious groups like churches or schools and missionaries. Another way is to build a website or blog to have an online presence.
To start the job find a good location and decide on you niche. Hire staff, buy equipment and do effective marketing to attract customers.
Freelancers take the job and use established press houses to produce the finished product. They pay for every step of the process from paper, computer graphics, plate, impression and trimming.
Here is an article on business without money


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