CMYK on 1 or 2 color press

Discussion in '1-Color and 2-Color Offset Presses' started by Yelile, Apr 14, 2014.

  1. Yelile

    Yelile Member

    Sep 2013
    Hey everyone,

    Last year I strongly started thinking about moving the offset print we do in-house as we do quite a bit of it (around $150-200k/year at this point) and we feel that we're leaving a lot of money on the table as the margins around here are enormous in the print business. We currently do digital and wide format print as well as signage but our business concept is one of a one-stop-shop. We do everything for our clients from their brand, the designs, print, signage, web get the idea.

    So after we are done with our clients, meaning that we create the visual identity of their brand, wrap their cars, create their signs, print their flags and so on the most common recurring work we end up doing for them is offset print (along with the occasional small volume job like business cards which we do on our Canon C1+). As we do a lot of it and we have pretty much no profit from it (1-2% tops) we've started considering starting doing it in house as the margins around here are quite high.

    We are mainly interested in serving our existing client-base which is growing on a monthly basis, we're not really interested in purely doing offset print as most presshouses are.

    Last year when I first started considering this I was under the impression that to do proper full color work you absolutely need a 4 color press. At the end of last year though we started working with a good friend that does offset print and learned that he does his work on a single color press. I was quite shocked to be honest because the print quality was excellent and no visible registration misalignment or anything. I honestly never even questioned that it was a 4 color machine. But no, they are a 30 people company and they do all their work on a 1 color machine.

    This blew my mind.

    Since I learned this I've started thinking about this once again. Going into offset seems like a logical step to me but none of us have experience operating a press and we don't want to get into it until we are sure that we'll be able to get usable prints. No point in spending a lot of money and still having to outsource the work.

    Anyway my main concern right now is whether we will be able to achieve a satisfactory print quality.

    The thing is that 90% of our work is full color and while we do a bit of 2 color work if that was the only thing we can do in house it's not worth it.

    I am sure that it is possible to get satisfactory results with a 1 or 2 color machine but as the devil is in the details I'm not sure if we will be able to. These guys have decades of experience while we have only done digital print so far.

    Another issue is one of press size. We could probably get most of our work done on a B3 sized machine but we also do a lot of B2 posters so having a B2 machine would be preferable. We also absolutely want a CTP and of course a B2 CTP is also a lot more expensive that B3.

    In any case the main question for us is the following - can one properly do full color print on a 1 or 2 color press and if so what press is well suited for this task ?

    If you have any general input on the stuff I've written I'd deeply appreciate your thoughts on that as well.

    Thanks in advance
  2. FFR428

    FFR428 Senior Member

    Feb 2008
    The best advice I can offer you is to work as a apprentice somewhere for a few weeks. Maybe at the shop that's doing your work or local tech school/college. You really need someone to show you from scratch and what's involved. It's not for everyone and can take years to learn the skills you need to be a pressman. Going in balls deep from the cold is by far the hard way to go about it. Besides the press, and pre press equipment there's, cutting and finishing, supplies, repair and upkeep for everything. It gets expensive. Sure you can run 4 color 1 or 2 colors at a time but I'd say the guy who's doing you work has been at it a long time. A well seasoned pressman can make it look easy. You need to know and understand color and it's limitations in CMYK process. Plus paper, ink, fountain solutions and everything involved. If you like what your doing after some training and feel it's doable then go for it. If not and you really don't like it that 1-2% markup will look pretty good. I've been in this trade as a pressman for 37 years. I've run everything from a 1 color Multi to a 5 color Komori and everything in between. And I could go on and on about the do's and don'ts. But get some hands on experience first and then decide. That would be my first step. This way it's only cost you some of your time and if anything you'll learn a few things as well. You can buy the best equipment money can buy and still struggle. It's the skill and knowledge that takes time to learn.
  3. OkiTech

    OkiTech Senior Member

    Jan 2008
    Think this - the 4 color press running will produce ready product in the same time the 1 color will lay, well, 1 color. It may seem so easy in someone elses hands but unless you have a really good pressman willing to work for next to nothing, 4 color is the way to go. It is clear why 8-10 color perfectors are being built and bought as time is most important and one of the most expencive factor. Sure 4cp is possible and being done on 1-2 presses but if you are about to start something, do it right.
  4. Meny

    Meny Senior Member

    Apr 2008
    I agree :)

    it is possible to do 4 or even 10 color jobs on a one color press , but it is not the cost effective nor a competative way to go.
    Go 4 colors , you will have instant result so if you want to change it is easy.
    With a one color you will only know you are wrong once you have finished the job and that is way tooooo late.
  5. ziggy33

    ziggy33 Senior Member

    Jul 2010
    Rice Lake WI
    I run quite a bit of 4 color on my 3302M, the best way to do it is to have a color key made so you know what your image looks like in each color separate. A 4 color will save time but the cost of keeping it up might hurt you if your not running 4 color all the time this would be your best bet cuz you can still run a single color job and not worry about three other heads, just the one. all about preference really, I know some old timers that say 4 color on a one color will give you your best results for quality but they don't realize how much technology has changed in the past 30 years when they first started.
  6. alibryan

    alibryan Senior Member

    May 2014
    The answer to your question is yes you can produce quality full color work on a 1 or 2 color press. First you need to find someone who knows printing inside and out. A qualified veteran who can help take you through the steps of getting the correct equipment and that knows how to operate it. If you are new to the production end of printing there is no other way. You will have to pay this person a fair salary/wage but in the end it will be more than worth it. Printing is a profitable business for someone who has the work and knows how to efficiently produce it.

    Ait sounds like you have the first part already.
  7. Offset George

    Offset George Member

    Jan 2015
    United States
    Our company ran 4 color process for many years on a Harris 36" inch single color press. Although with decreased demand and more competition it became non profitable. It was cheaper to send work to Zoo or 4over than to produce it ourselves unless we put out a very large amount of money to go with direct to plate and a large format 5 color press where we could varnish on the 5th head. With little experience in offset printing you would be better off farming your 4 color work out and focus profits from the other services your company performs.
  8. discountprintingservice

    discountprintingservice Senior Member

    Mar 2007
    Due to the market being flooded with used equipment since about 08 or 09, you can get some really good deals on 1, 2 and 4 color presses especially if you buy them from a shop going all digital rather than a dealer, you can get good deals on auctions too. I would base the decision on your budget for the equipment needed for this type work and also consider your budget for a good prepress person (someone who knows a lot about prepress, CTP, quality dot reproduction, etc.) and a good quality pressman (someone who is proficient in 4 color and has good knowledge of quality dot reproduction on press) the right well trained & experience personnel are worth every dollar...Dan Remaley posts on this forum a good bit and would be an excellent go to guy for advice on quality process color work and whats involved...I am also willing to help you with any advice if you PM me
  9. gregr

    gregr New Member

    Mar 2015
    Berkeley, CA
    The costs to run a color process pressroom are more than the 1-200K you spend for your current printing. I think you would be better off If you just raise your % overhead and send your printing to only a couple of venders. But if you were a machinist and had extra time and money to spend, it's very gratifying to print beautiful or important things.

  10. customml

    customml New Member

    May 2017
    Phoenix, AZ
    I agree! :)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017