I work in Switzerland and one of my main business-challenges are the costs for the plates (usually photopolymer). In relation to the other material and the printing work, costs for plates are to high. I guess plate costs make sometimes 50% or even more of the total costs . I have made my plates by a platemaker company. I charge no margin for the plates.
I wonder if the costs of the plates compared to total costs are as high in the US or other countries (Europe). How do you manage to make good pricing for you and your clients, especially regarding plate costs?
Thanks for your answers.
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Plate cost are high in North America as well. I’m in Canada so if you look at the published prices and add the exchange rate, shipping and any customs and taxes it is the biggest cost factor for me. I try to manage the problem by making some of the plates myself (by hand). For plates under 5x8, I can produce quality equal to the plate makers I have used, such as Boxcar, Elum and Crown. For larger jobs I send out. I send out for what I can’t do adequately and do what I can in house. For some jobs I will shoot the art in sections and then assemble it using film overlays to align the work on the press. This helps cut costs. If you look at the amount of time I spend on prepress it is still expensive but it allows me to earn as labor what I would spend on plate making and it adds a little more control over the process. One factor I find always comes in to play is how busy I am. I would rather be on the press than making plates so when I am busy more of the plates are sent out, when things are slow I spend more time on prepress. Making plates helps but it took a lot of time and effort to develop the skills. That is the way I try to cope with the issue.
I don’t know what you’re spending on a sq. inch basis, but I order from Concord Engraving in New Hampshire, and it’s about 55 cents($USD)/sq. inch. I’m sure costs are different in other countries, but it in no way comes close to 50% of the total cost of the job. That’s way too high and I doubt you can make much profit on a print job. Hopefully some of the other European printers will chime in with other sources for plates.