Demystifying Printing in China
I received an email from a buddy of mine, Gary Murphy, (https://www.garyknowsco.com) about printing in China. Gary also frequently sources from China for his clientele and uses Avela (my sourcing company) in China as a back end service for his China sourcing efforts. Anyway one of his clients told him that he heard that printing in China was “Hot” and Gary wanted to know what I thought about that. I thought my reply was detailed enough that I would turn it into my next blog. I think this might be of interest for those of you involved in printing in the US. Here is what I said:
Well everything is “hot” in China. I have quoted a lot of printing. Here is the deal.
1. China’s pulp industry is small. Most of the native wood is gone. The forest you do see are either protected or are farmed and harvested for medium and high density particle board. They get the majority of their pulp and paper from the US, Canada and Russia. So material cost are higher there.
2. For the most part, the majority of the printing plant machinery and technology are last generation, from the 1980s-1990s. Of course there are exceptions with modern plant spattered around but most of the technology is older. This older technology still prints great but not as efficient. As far as building presses and support machinery, no one beats the Germans and Japanese with the US coming in third and China catching up.
3. The other big disadvantage is the shipping cost. For a commodity, paper is heavy and expensive to ship. Especially both ways.
4. And the biggest factor is time. People here in the US are accustomed very short print times, usually days not the 6 to 10 weeks required to print in China. And as you know, time is money. If you can hold off printing until the last possible second, you can respond to the market with fresher information.
OK so how does China work?
5. It works when are a lot of touches to produce the final product. That would mean a lot of hand finishing work, that can not be done by machine. Page insertions and pop-up books come to mind. Also when there are multiple passes of ink on a page , China as well.
6. Most of the printing for the US and other markets involve package printing for products already made in China. That make sense as you can ship finished product from China including the packaging, which, btw, is usually complex and expensive. Sometimes the packaging is more expensive than the product and requires a lot of hand work.
7. And the last thing I can think of are “coffee table” type books. This type printing often have fold outs, inserted fly sheets and elegant bindings. It is the perfect product for China to print as you can have the time to get it done as well.
Avela Corporation- “We are the source for your success in China”