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A Small Business Guide: Criteria for Printing in Asia

Printing in Asia

If you want to get a routine or specialty print job done and have time to source a company that meets your particular requirements, consider printing in Asia. With a little research and diligence an outstanding company can be found that specializes in your particular area of need. These printing companies are very capable of producing a print job that will surpass your expectations, while affording large cost savings.

Contrary to what one may think about sending a print job to Asia where inexpensive manufacturing is prevalent, the printing industry in Asia has in fact a high adoption rate of the latest printing technology, equipment and training. Investment in the printing sector in Asia far outpaces the US and Europe. This investment has made it possible for production and service quality of export-oriented printing companies in Asia, to be on a par with, or better than, the best printing companies in the West.

Criteria for Printing in Asia


To print in Asia how much lead time your project has needs evaluating, so the time required for shipping can be factored in at a job's planning stage. With very fast turnaround times customary in Asian printing and manufacturing, along with frequent freight sailings, this time is a lot less than you would imagine.

With certain print jobs there's the possibility of partial shipment by air. While this will cost more, the overall savings may still make this worthwhile. For example, if a company had an urgent need for a new catalog and the catalog is intended to be distributed over an extended period, then catalogs for use during the extra delivery time could be air-freighted in advance of the sea shipment. The company may even get the first catalogs faster this way than by using a local printing company.

If you need something printed in one day, printing in Asia may not be the best choice, but with a little forethought and planning there's the opportunity of large cost savings.

The cost of shipping

In order to enjoy the most benefit from printing offshore, the shipping cost should be low in comparison to the value of the printing job.

Shipping costs are made up of fixed costs, like port charges and custom clearance fees, along with minimum costs based on volume/weight for trucking and port to port carriage. If the quantity of an order is larger, then the shipping charges per piece are lower. For example, the shipping cost for 3,000 PCS might be 300 USD, yet 6,000 PCS might only be a little more at 400 USD

In addition if a print job is more "complex" its value is higher, and the shipping cost is less relative to the total cost. More complex might mean jobs that have a higher page count, premium and specialty paper stocks, more involved binding methods or more finishing processes like die-cutting, lamination, special coating, embossing, case binding, etc...,

The largest cost savings

* Jobs that require more pre-press work – especial for short print runs The cost of pre-press work in Asia is extremely competitive, especially for books & catalogs with higher page counts or items like calendars, signs, packaging, gift bags, etc... that have a larger print area. Artwork needing color correction, image manipulation & special pre-flight is also a lot more economical to do in Asia

* Larger quantities and/or more colors It costs less to print a ream of paper in Asia. The more reams of paper you print, the cheaper it will be compared to the West. Similarly if your print job is full color, prints with Pantone inks or has aqueous or other coatings, the price difference is greater than the comparative difference between printing black & white printing job in Asia and the West.

* Binding, finishing & multiple processes Post press finishing that adds value to your print item is especially worthwhile. Hardcover binding, Smyth sewn case, perfect binding, PUR, wire-o and finishing work such as die-cutting, embossing, foiling, UV coating, laminations, special coatings like soft touch, scratch off and pearlescent, are all available for less in Asia. Apart for lower costs there's the option of using some of the savings to add extra finishing processes to enhance the value of the printing material, and still keep inside the budget.

Some print jobs will require additional process apart from offset printing. These additional printing processes like screen printing, lenticular printing, UV printing, digital or variable data printing can often be carried out under one roof in Asia with the printing company frequently lowering their margins on the extra printing process to increase their overall competitiveness. As the saying goes it's better to get 10% of something than 50% of nothing.

Further Things to Consider - fulfillment & logistics services

* Hand work, kitting and assembly & pick and pack services.

* Is inventory management and warehousing as easy and secure as in your country?

* Identity and brand managed across all print media and processes.

*Shipping and distribution experience to all destinations.

These criteria are general outlines. If you have a particular project in mind then obviously the easiest and best way to assess the suitability of printing in Asia is to find a suitable printing company and get your job priced along with production and delivery schedule made.

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