Understanding Quality Finish of Print as Consumer

Discussion in 'Print Community General Printing Discussion' started by Rapid, May 17, 2023.

  1. Rapid

    Rapid New Member

    May 2023
    Hi Everyone,

    I hope this is in the right place on the forum!

    I'm a small business owner. Years ago I had some leaflets printed for my business. We used a graphic designer for artwork and whoever the printer was (I can't remember) did a fabulous job. They came out amazing. I'm reasonably sure from memory that they were on 170gsm silk paper.

    Recently (many years later) I had the existing artwork and have done another print run. I found a printer on Ebay (I know....I know....) they were very cost effective indeed to print a small batch of 500 leaflets on 170gsm silk.

    You can see where this is going....the finish is nowhere near as sharp as the originals. The colours of the new ones are more washed out and lighter than the originals. In the pictures, if you look closely you can actually make out the dots that have formed the picture. In the originals, the images are too good to see they're made up of minute dots, they're much sharper. The originals also feel smoother to the touch than the new ones, which feel like there's more resistance when rubbing your finger over.

    Side by side, there's a significant difference.

    Now, I appreciate there's a bit of 'what do you expect if you go cheap' etc about all of this but honestly, the originals were also cheap. More to the point, my overall question is, is there any way of knowing in advance what specifications will determine the quality of the final print?

    I recall when doing some printing at home many years ago it was all down to the quality of the paper. But all I have with these two leaflets is 170gsm silk vs 170 gsm silk? Forgive me in assuming they would be the same.

    The artwork was the same. The only difference possibly is that the originals were printed in higher numbers. 5k possibly vs 500.

    I don't want to offend the printer by complaining about quality because for the price paid, they're still what I would consider good value. They're just not as sharp looking as I'd hoped. The problem for a consumer like me, is that I could have paid double elsewhere and still ended up with the same product.

    Any help or insight you can provide would be greatly appreciated so that I can avoid the same mistake in the future. Thanks in advance.
  2. Raf77

    Raf77 Senior Member

    Aug 2023
    United Kingdom
    You should give to a new printer one of the leaflets of original job (which you were happy the most with) as a sample and request to match to this sample. It'll give them good idea of your expectations of final product. Of course there is plenty of circumstances that can make job looks different (even if you have the same artwork) but the sample it's a guide for the printer to match it as close as possible.
  3. jwheeler

    jwheeler Senior Member

    Apr 2019
    Did you scan the old leaflets and send him that file? If so, the process of scanning a previously created piece creates a moire pattern, causing the effect of seeing all of the dots. It's similar to what happens when you try to take a picture of your monitor with your cell phone.

    If that's not the case and you sent them a high quality PDF of the artwork that your designer provided from the first time, then it comes down to the printing methods that were used. Based on how you're describing it, I think the first run was done on an offset press, which is considered the most premium method of printing in our industry - and it has a perfectly smooth feel. However, that method will only be used for larger quantities. For small runs like your 500, they will most likely be ran on a digital press. These are glorified copiers/laser printers, and you can feel the toner sit on top of the paper - hence the little bumps you're describing. The quality will depend on the quality of machine they are using, the quality of the operator knowing how to use the proper settings for the proper paper, and the quality of the file.

    I would suggest finding a local printer that you can see a proof from before they print the entire job. After they do a few jobs for you, you'll start to build trust with them and know they'll do it right each time. They'll also be able to educate you on how to provide quality PDF files that are 300dpi, CMYK, have embedded fonts, and include bleeds.

    If you'd like, upload the file you sent to this printer and I'll review it.

  4. Gerald Reihl

    Gerald Reihl New Member

    Aug 2023
    USA, Texas
    Apples and oranges are the printing presses of then and now. Yet, there are many "good old" printers and some new youngsters out there enjoying the technology of the old style quality offset press printing. That's likely where you need to go. Kind of like finding a film camera photographer verses as digital camera photographer. Close, but no cigar, and the price meant it.