Male hands using a low profile keyboard, overlaid with tech graphics.


In-House vs. Outsourced Printing

October 17th, 2022 by Paul Perez

A production print machine processing images of sunflowers.

For some organizations, print marketing is their primary avenue for distributing information to the public. Though digital marketing has unleashed new marketing methods such as SMS, Email, and Social-Media, print still plays a large role, and its effectiveness has recently increased. Because the blitz of digital marketing now starts as soon as we pick up our smart devices, “digital clutter” is growing larger every day. Emails are left unchecked, SMS messages are ignored, and ads are tolerated (and often ignored) in-between video clips. This clutter has made the unique hard-copy letter or postcard stand out that much more. There is a faint feeling of appreciation for the sender that takes the time to put together a hard copy document in an otherwise digital world.

For those that feel a hard-copy print is the right path for their marketing efforts they have a couple of options to consider – Print in-house or engage a print shop for help. Sending a file to a print shop and having it completed a few days later is simple. It allows employees to focus on their job, prevents the need for specialized training, and there is not a graphics printer taking up space in the office. While these are all true, companies are driven to printing in-house for a variety of different reasons. Printing in-house can help to meet deadlines, save money, and retain internal control of the output. With branding being an increasingly important piece of business today, many companies want to ensure their brand logo and colors are accurately replicated on every print.

So, Which One Is the Correct Option – Outsourcing or Printing In-House? As with Everything Else, It Depends on the Situation.

Local Print Shops – These are the one-stop shop for design and printing. Invitations, brochures, flyers, business cards, you name it, they can do it. Many print shops employ graphic designers to help ideas take shape and have equipment in-house to produce incredible finished pieces. The local feel they can provide sets them apart in many cases. They usually have physical storefronts where you can see hard-copy proofs before purchasing, allowing for back-and-forth interaction to ensure you get what you want. The downside is that these guys might be the priciest of the options.

Online Mega Printers – These are not the normal mom-and-pop storefront print shops and are fairly new to the print world. These online printers have the ability to print and finish just about any type of print you can think of; the main difference between them and a neighborhood print shop is the buying experience and customer support. There is no design help or try before you buy kind of thing. You upload your print file and select how you want it printed and finished. It arrives on time, and it is very cost-effective. Print ordering, payment, and shipping are all automated and streamlined, leaving little overhead when choosing this option. If you know what you want and understand print jargon, this type of printer may work well for you. However, if you need some hand-holding or suggestions, these guys are probably not the right fit.

Printing in-house – In-house printing is usually something that develops over time. An organization may start out by enlisting a print shop for design and print help and then depend more on internal marketing as they grow. A couple of missed deadlines or expensive last-minute trips to the local print shop, and internal control of printing becomes more attractive. The main reasons an organization would explore printing in-house are cost, turnaround time, and quality control. Digital presses used by print shops for high-quality graphics tend to come in smaller configurations to accommodate lower monthly volumes. Letting you replicate the professional quality expected from a print shop via a machine in-house. If doing enough volume to justify the monthly equipment cost, printing in-house can be significantly less expensive than the other print options. Turnaround times are improved, deadlines are easier to meet, and the graphics team has control to create exactly what they envision.

Before jumping headlong into printing in-house, below are a few questions that will help to make a decision:

  • Who is going to run the machine?
  • Will there be enough volume produced to justify the equipment cost?
  • Is there enough open space for a graphics unit to fit?
  • Will there need to be any specialized finishing to our printed pieces?

A reputable print vendor will be able to help with an analysis of your outsourcing print spend vs. the cost of printing in-house (equipment, paper, cost per copy, employee time, etc.). If the need is there and the math makes sense, printing in-house/on-demand may be the best option for your business.

Posted in: Managed Print Services

Function4 serves Houston, Beaumont, Paris, and the surrounding areas.