Tom Kubinski
Printing Consultant
Direct: 612-278-1568
Fax: 612-334-5879
Cell: 612-760-3700
1109 Zane Avenue North
Minneapolis, MN. 55422
Phone: 612-375-1150
Fax: 612-334-5879
Toll Free: 1-800-230-2828

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For Direct Marketers
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Ink Tour
Paper Mill Tour - Coated
Paper Mill Tour - Uncoated
Picking the Right Paper
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PDF Info & Quark vs. InDesign
PODi - Digital Print Success Story
Postal Increases & Requirement Changes
Post it to the Web vs. Print
PURL - Avoid Dog House Campaign
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Social Media -- The Basics
Social Media vs. Print
Top File Issues
UV Burn
Ways to Save Money
What Sets Sexton Apart?
Why Print in a Down Market?
Why Work With TK?

June 2009 TK's Korner
Ways to Save Money On Your Next Printing Project

If you, like my client Dan, often wonder...
"What can I do to save money?"... THIS ISSUE IS FOR YOU!

Before we delve into the many avenues that are available to you for cost savings though, we need to discuss the bidding process. It is here that most of the costs are incurred. Keep in mind, that this process encourages vendors to cut corners and exclude others in order to bring down their price in hopes of being awarded the project, and later adding on up-charges or alterations.

Unfortunately there are instances of print specs being changed or inferior papers, finishes or bindery processes being substituted - either without a client's knowledge, or maybe in the hopes of sliding past a customer who is not as knowledgeable about the entire process and the ultimate product they are expecting. Some projects are practically given away to get a client 'in the door'; later their projects seem to have constant and continuing upward rising costs.

Think back to just how many of your projects actually came within budget? Do your up-charges or alterations seem reasonable? If your billing is not coming in within the original budget, the only additional charges you are receiving should be from alterations you have made. If they do not seem reasonable, you may start to realize substantial savings just by making sure a more detailed estimate is obtained up front.

The question is: "What is the goal I am after within the bidding process?" Is it simply to get a variety of bids that are 'apples to apples' and make a decision based on that? Is it to get the cheapest price? Or, am I concerned about making sure that everyone really understands what the design is, how the piece is intended to be used and what the desired end results are?

The latter is what I aim to provide with this consultative and partnership approach. I hope to ensure that every one of your projects that we work on together is completely understood, the design intention can be accomplished, and the bid is accurate. The only way to make sure this is possible is for both parties to ask questions up front. That way surprises will not be encountered along the way.

All of us know that in most cases not all of the specifications are decided upon early on. Yet, the more precise you are up front, the better your chances are that the bids are indeed 'apples to apples'. This is especially important when you still have creative to be approved, budgets to be OK'd, and PO's have to be cut etc.

Giving accurate, detailed information and a 100% to size color-broken dummy will ensure that the bid you receive has been estimated correctly and can be looked at as 'apples to apples'.

Listed below are line items that are Commonly Furnished in a Bid, plus Overlooked and Other Available Options that we could look into further if your design or end-use allows.


  • Name of project and format of piece
  • Estimated date and time needed back
  • Quantity
  • Size - flat and finished / folded
  • Stock - weight, brand and finish
  • Ink - number of colors, 4cp, PMS, bleeds?
  • Coating - varnish or aqueous, or whichever is cheaper
  • Artwork - in disk form and date to be ready
  • Proofs - Dylux or Matchprint needed
  • Press check or not
  • Separations - number and sizes of each
  • Line Screen
  • Die cut or perforate
  • Embossing - register to print or blind
  • Foil Stamping - register to print or blind
  • Lamination - one sided or two, flush or sealed edge, and thickness
  • Binding- saddle stitch, perfect bind, wire-o, spiral, plastic coil, GBC etc.
  • Mailing - ink jetting, Cheshire labeling, post office drop
  • Delivery - date, location, contact person


(Typically this is where most of the up charges will be encountered.)

How does the piece fold - roll, letter, gate, accordion, double parallel, etc. If a roll fold, have the panels been adjusted for the fold. Any critical crossover hookups? If so, on what pages. Has the art been adjusted for crossovers?

Stock - comparable stock ok or not. (Not all papers are created equal.) Even a grade marked number one to another number one have differences. Domestic to Foreign ratings are also very different. 
(See issue entitled, Picking the Right Paper for more specifics.) (Note: A family member piece printed with a substitute paper could result in colors and images not matching.)

Ink - PMS, any metallics and their colors. Percentage of coverage for each. Does ink run across folds and is a score necessary. If scoring, will a press, folder or letterpress score be OK.

Coatings - wet or dry trap, contaminated or clean. Are drawdowns needed? Varnish, aqueous and UV will protect your piece in a variety of levels. Their costs sometimes will not follow the same suit. Aqueous allows you to seal the sheet and move onto the next step faster than a varnish, which could nullify the savings of the coating itself. (Note: Fingerprinting is more apparent with UV over the other two, especially with darker background colors.)

Artwork - format or working software. (Some are not printing software friendly.)

Proofs - are you familiar with the 2 different types of proofs Sexton has, how each can be used and save money. Ask me about Dylux vs. Match Proof. Our Dylux is a CMYK, backed up (not laminated together) and is ideal for projects that may need many eyes to approve and/or possible changes. Our Digital Match Proof is for those really color critical projects. 

Press Check - all forms or just one to set the color.

Separations - match transparency or pleasing color. Are any rounds of color alterations to be included.

Die Cutting - does die exist and can it be furnished, or do we need new.

Size of Die - if perforating, is it on folds only or L shaped, etc.

Embossing - is die existing and can it be furnished, or do we need new.

Height of Die - single level, multi or sculptured.

Foil Stamping - does die exist and can it be furnished, or do we need new.

Blind - or registering to print.

Lamination - lay flat, satin, gloss or dull film, sealed or flush edge.

Binding - are you familiar with Ota binding and its benefits/cost savings over perfect binding?

Grain Direction - sometimes this can really matter with various finishing processes and folding, especially with your heavier weights. If this is not discussed up front in the bid, your end pricing could reflect additional costs.

Mailing - how many lists will we be working with? Will we merge/purge and dupe eliminate? Whose indicia will we use? Is it going out First Class, First Class Presort or Presorted Standard.

Quantity - of the printing that actually mails. Is this for a Non Profit? Is there a BRC and what is the size? (To get automation postal discounts, you need to be at a 7pt or 9pt minimum. When over 4.25x6, must be 9pt minimum).


Bleed - where on the piece? Sometimes going with no bleed may allow you to go to a smaller paper and/or press sheet size.

Size - downsizing the piece so it will fit onto a smaller paper and/or press sheet size. (This may also allow you to keep a bleed in some cases for no additional cost.)

Stock - using a similar grade of a different brand name, or ordering a special sheet size cuts down on waste. (Note: this usually takes time to get from the mills but can give you huge savings. If you only need a partial quantity, you may choose to put that small amount onto a standard sheet size, while waiting on the balance of the special sheet size and savings.)

Scoring - going with a press or folder score over a letterpress score can save money. (Note: threat of cracking is only reduced by going with an LP score, not eliminated.)

Tint Stripping - a PMS color can save money. However, this can also cause you color consistency issues if heavy areas or many process images are on the piece. This should be discussed up front to see if it makes sense or not.

Crossover Hookups - can add to your project by requiring several extra procedures. Typically, a text weight stock requires these extra steps while cover stocks will not.

Foiling Repeat Patterns - to avoid them within your run or live work, requires extra material to be purchased as well as a slower run speed to make sure none get mixed in.

Prepress - you can reduce production time by supplying a press optimized PDF file. Basically what this does, is reduce the amount of time necessary to prep and manage files. (Best use would be for monthly publications, reruns, reruns with corrections etc.)

Wow! Dan had no idea of the many options available to him in these different categories. When combined with being specific upfront in the bid process, he had a successful project AND is now realizing savings he wouldn't have otherwise.

    You can also read the article ”Nice Price” in the JULY 2008 issue entitled HOW TO PLAN YOUR PRINT JOB in Print & Media Buyer magazine (see bottom for select others)

You can also check out my profile, join my network and view more client comments on LinkedIn at –

It's Just Plain Fun to Say -
'K U B I N S K I !'

Referrals are greatly appreciated. If you know someone who I should contact, please let me know.

If you would like to join me on one of our upcoming tours, if there is something that you would like me to address, or if you know of someone who might like to receive TK's Korner, please let me know via e-mail at or phone.

Other issues of TK's Korner that you may find of interest

Why Print in a Down Market?

Why Work With TK?

Direct Mail Raise Response, Lower Costs

Digital / Variable Printing

Take care and have a great day!

Tom Kubinski, Printing Consultant

Printing Consultant Who Helps You Make Good Impressions
Direct: 612-278-1568
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