Postcard POD business advice needed, please

Discussion in 'Printing Business Practices' started by Coloboque, Nov 10, 2011.

  1. Coloboque

    Coloboque Member

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    My husband and I are thinking about starting a small business as a side income source. It would be just postcard printing, POD (print on demand) style, online store only (at least for now). I'm a photographer, so the kind of postcards would be cityscapes, street scenes, landscapes, etc. That means, there will be very bright, intense colors in the images. We want to print color front and b&w back, and possibly add the UV coating.

    Since this is going to be a real small business, a tiny one, :D we don't want to invest a whole lot, just in case the business is slow or whatever. I have a few questions and would appreciate any advice from the pros:

    1. What kind of printer would suit this task best? We have a HP Color LaserJet CP1525nw printer but I'm not sure it would do the job right. I don't have to have a heavy-duty printer since the POD might mean just one card at a time, so no problem for me to flip it over and print on the other side. The key is to print good quality on preferably glossy paper and at a reasonable price. If you have a printer in mind, do you know what would be a rough average per 1 card printed?

    2. What cardstock is optimal to use for a postcard 4x6" in size? And where is the best place to purchase it at decent/affordable prices? Would appreciate a website address or a business name, if possible. We're located in Dallas area, Texas. We don't mind investing in a large batch of precut cardstock (like 1-5-10K sheets or so), since the paper can last for years, I believe. Just don't want to spend too much on that. I have a hand guillotine and could use that too to cut the cards, but ideally it would be just easier to have the cardstock precut.

    3. How do we add the UV coating? What machinery is needed for that? And how much do the supplies cost on an average? (say, per roll? sorry, I'm a total rookie in this area, but I'm willing to learn!) How big are those rolls (if they're rolls, not sheets) and how many 4x6" cards could be covered with one roll? Also, if the cardstock itself is glossy, is the UV going to add additional shine to it? Is it necessary at all? The cards aren't going to be sold in regular stores, beind displayed on the streets or shop windows, so no direct surn rays.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. xfactor printing

    xfactor printing Senior Member

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    When I think postcards, I think volume at least 500 or 1000. So your question threw me for a loop as I'm not familiar with this type of art "postcard". What size will these be? 4 x 6 or larger?

    You said "since the POD might mean just one card at a time" - is the cost you can sell an individual card for sufficient to cover your time to do this?

    You know the quality you can get from your laserjet which probably isn't bad. You can get slightly better going to a higher end 30-40k printer. THe major limitations to a laser printer are the finish quality and the weight of stock you can feed through. The cost for the print itself (toner and durables in the printer) might range between $0.60 for a low-end printer that is high-price on consumables to $0.05 for a $40k printer that is much more economical on durables/consumables. With the larger printer you might also print on a 13x19 sheet instead of a 11x17 or 12x18 sheet, the larger allowing you to do more n-up per sheet.

    A few years ago 12pt was standard for postcards, but now it's moved up to 14pt and 16pt as the offset "standard" for postcards which is slightly heavier than the normal ~300gsm limit for laser printers.

    A UV coating machine is a 20k machine. You might also look at a laminator which would be better suited for very short runs. Laminating on top of toner can present problems, but some cold laminations work well.
     
  3. Coloboque

    Coloboque Member

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    Thank you, xfactor, this makes things more clear. I guess, it might be better to go to a local printer and print a number of each card (like 20 or so) to have in stock. It would be a lot cheaper this way. Perhaps, some day we'll be able to afford 40K printers to print postcards. Not now... But thanks a lot, you saved me time and money! :)
     
  4. longlivemedia

    longlivemedia Member

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    Glad you were able to figure everything out Coloboque! Xfactor, when you say that a UV coating machine is a 20k machine, do you mean it costs about $2000? I was thinking about investing in one, so any additional information would be awesome.
     
  5. xfactor printing

    xfactor printing Senior Member

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    The offline UV coating machines I looked at were in the $20,000 range. I have not seen any UV coaters that I thought were worth having much lower than that. There might be some options with closeouts or used machines.
     

  6. xfactor printing

    xfactor printing Senior Member

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