Large print job on C&P? Pricing?

I’m in the process of setting up my 8x12 C&P and was wondering how feasible it would be to print a very large edition (around 20,000). I have printed up to 1,500 pieces in a day on a Vandercook and decided to buy a C&P to save myself the physical wear and tear. How many impressions an hour are possible on the C&P? I realize that a Windmill is probably the better option, but right now I only have access to my C&P.

Also, would Boxcar Deep Relief base and plates hold up to this type of printing? Thanks for any advice!

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There are any number of variables affecting press production. Size of the piece, type of stock, registration, ink, rate of feed, experience, stamina, all come into play. As example, printing business cards will proceed more quickly than, say, feeding letterhead on newsprint. And, too, one should remember it’s printing - it’s not a race. There are many claiming fantastic speeds, but all things considered you should predict about 1000 pieces per hour. Any more and it’s a bonus. This will include re-inking, stacking, replenishment of feed table, oiling, bathroom breaks, etc. And watch the fatigue factor; that’s when accidents happen. Again, unless you’re working to some tight deadline (and that’s where your Windmill shines) keep it steady and you’ll soon be done. (I once ran 40,000 #4 kraft paper bags (pbs) on an 8x12. Interesting job, and it paid well. But it took a week of long hours)
Just some thoughts.

One thing to consider is whether or not the job can be run on a larger sheet with multiple images up on the sheet, for instance on the 8x12 press, you easily could print a form with 4 business card images printed on an 8”x3.5” sheet of stock and later cut them apart to individual cards. That cuts your press time by a factor of 4. It is best not to push the limits on the press capabilities if you are not familiar with what it will do. In other words, a form with the same business cards could potentially be run 10-up on a 10”x7” sheet, but you’d better have some experience under your belt to do it. Consistent inking of the form can be a potential problem when the form gets larger on a small press without an ink fountain.

Whether or not it is possible to gang the work, Laurence’s suggestions are good ones. Pace yourself and make sure the image quality doesn’t slip. As to the Boxcar connection, you should have no difficulty if the plates are well made and set up with proper makeready on press.

I have printed jobs of 20,000 on a handfed platen press when that press was my only press, and that being a foot-treadle press to boot.

John Henry

Thanks for the advice! The piece I’d like to print is a 12x8 sheet that would then be folded in half. The image would be 6x8 or less for one half and a logo on the other half. It seems like this might be a bit large for the press. Would it be possible to print the whole piece at once, or just focus on each half of the card separately?


That’s a challenge. Because of the stock size the short dwell of the press will slow your production considerably; And I believe consistent inking would present concern as well. Do you have a fountain for the ink table? However, the press is up to the task. Printing each half might alleviate ink concern, but obviously would double the time factor. (I predict, somewhere about impression 2000, that you’ll be second-guessing the decision to take on the job, and be casting about for that Windmill.) But, heck, you goes with what you has. And it will give you ‘war story’ telling in later years. ;o) Good luck.
In my opinion.

Thanks Laurence. I have had a few times in the past when I finished a job and I now have no idea how I made it through! I’m sure that I’ll second-guess myself along the way, but I also really think I can do the job.

I’m also just starting to set pricing for jobs. I generally print my own designs in smaller quantities, but this job is quite a bit larger than usual and is the client’s design. I’m really at a loss on how to go about pricing. I know how much the material cost would be and how much I would charge per hour. Do other people usually charge hourly for printing, or per card? Is there a standard hourly rate or accepted price to charge per card for a piece that will later be sold by the client? There are so many factors to consider and I appreciate any advice!

There are, as you recognize, many factors to consider in setting price - overhead, wear&tear on equipment, spoilage, etc. You’ve already determined what your hourly rate will be, you know materials cost, so that pretty much sets you on the path. I would suggest, however, that what the customer will do, or charge, for your completed work, should have no bearing upon your charges. Your fee is based upon your needs - not that of the customer who probably already has decided at what price the item will eventually retail. But these considerations should be satisfied prior to accepting the job. Nothing causes more strained silence than the customer feeling over-charged - and the printer feeling less-than-remunerated for a challenging task. Charging per piece is an acceptable method of doing others’ work but you must guard against low-balling yourself. You both must eat - it’s entirely up to you wether that be at Denny’s or the Ritz. Bear in mind - always - that what you are providing to that customer is your equipment to complete the job (offset can’t do everything), and, of equal or perhaps even greater value, your considerable skill to produce superior work. Anyone can place black mark upon white paper. Making it a delight to behold is the task of a dedicated printer and for that there can be no ‘cheap job’.
In my opinion.