Sometime in recent history, it somehow became embarrassing to call yourself just a printer. Overnight, “Acme Printing” would become “Acme Communications Solutions,” and all the ink was scraped from beneath one’s fingernails in order to project a more cutting-edge appearance; an implication that while yes, we do print, we’re actually marketing and image specialists! But in reality – in the back of the shop – Acme was still a printer.

And that’s OK. That’s what they’re good at. And – as it happens – there are other folks out there who can well deliver many things Acme was claiming to offer… But they’re not “specialists,” they’re brokers. And there you have it; the basic difference between a commercial printer and a print broker is that one does a couple of things really well, while the other knows (or can find) the folks with the myriad specific skill sets and necessary equipment for almost any project. My suggestion to you is to ignore those who tell you that one is better than the other, and instead recognize when – and for what – you should turn to each. Find the best of both worlds.

Commercial Printer

A commercial printer has a specific set of skills, and has invested in the best equipment to execute them. Printing presses and equipment are incredibly expensive, so commercial printers need volume in order to stay alive. You need your job produced by an expert in the field, on equipment tailored to the task. So, if all your jobs are the same, and they fall right in your printer’s wheelhouse… Congratulations! You two should be very happy together!

Printers control their own destinies; they know their stuff, they perform their work in-house, they have sales and customer service reps that can babysit your jobs, they schedule their own prepress and press departments, and they get the job done. But what if you have a job come up that’s different than the ones you usually do? Can your printer do that? How much does something like that cost? What’s involved? What do you do?

Pros

• skilled and knowledgeable in their corner of the industry

• in-house equipment to maximize control

• familiarity with repeat clients and projects

Cons

• unable to do specialty or custom tasks in-house

• might force your project to conform to their capabilities

• have a limited circle of industry partners

Print Broker

Print brokers don’t print. A print broker is the conductor at the symphony, or the foreman on the job site. They’re professionals who – over many years – have developed long-standing relationships with trade/wholesale printers, binderies, finishing and fulfillment vendors, often across the country or around the world. Once he or she understands your project and what your needs and expectations are, they can enlist a vendor (or vendors) with the specific skills you need and the most appropriate equipment for your custom printing job. Presentation folders, point-of-purchase displays, weird book bindings, magazines on different substrates; the broker has done it all and seen it all.

Print Brokers don’t pay retail, they pay at the rate vendors offer to the trade. That means that even after they’ve added a mark-up for their services, they can still have prices that are as good or better than those you’d get by buying direct from a supplier. Plus, you didn’t have to spend all that time familiarizing yourself with obscure corners of the industry, and seeking out hard-to-find vendors and services. Custom printing jobs often can’t be produced entirely under one roof. Who’s going to follow the bouncing ball as your project moves from the printer, to the coatings company, to the die cutter to the kitting and fulfilment house? You? Your printer, who’d rather move on to their next job? No, a broker.

And, the common objection that the print broker is just a middleman – another layer of profit – simply doesn’t wash. If you were able to pay less for a custom printing job than originally expected, and less than you could possibly have paid by doing the legwork yourself, would you care that the final tally included a commission for the broker? I doubt it. Expertise and experience aren’t free, but you can bury their cost.

Pros

• access to trade pricing

• solid understanding of the various processes and methods in the industry (web, sheet-fed, flex, finishing, etc.).

• can offer advice on – and assess viability of – design choices, material choices, etc.

• manages jobs through complex and processes and hand-offs

Cons

• sometimes preflight files, but don’t perform in-depth quality assessments

• not directly involved in the production of the project

• limited influence in-house once job has been passed to vendor(s)

Enfigo Offers the Best of Both Worlds

Enfigo set out to be different; more than simply a commercial printer, and more still than a print broker. Innovation was the key: we developed our Custom Printing App to provide instant quotes (yes, instant), online ordering, easy file upload, and real-time production management and job tracking. Most importantly, we did it with a keen eye on custom jobs; the ones that commercial printers – and many brokers – might shy away from due to their complexity or intricacy. Our instant quotes consider more than 80 print processes and other production methods to arrive at the most efficient custom printing method. These cutting-edge technologies come together with our experienced print experts to save you up to 40% on your commercial printing needs. Every project receives an in-depth review from an expert who can also offer alternative print concept ideas.

We brought prepress professionalism in-house. That means we preflight, we decide the best layouts, we RIP the files, we generate the proofs. We’ve taken the most precarious parts of printing and we’ve made them our own, so that if there’s ever a problem with your files or your project, you hear it from us – not a printer – and early, before too much time and money have been spent.

From improved print sourcing to instant print quotes on even the most complex jobs, Enfigo closes the gap on the many challenges experienced by print buyers. More than a commercial printer, more than a print broker. The best of both worlds, and a little bit more.

Contact us to find out the ideal solution for your requirements.