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Check it Out: Printing Large Format Technical Documents—What’s Best: Print In-house or Outsource?

Dear Desktop Engineering Reader:

To outsource or to in-source, that is the question posed by today’s Check it Out white paper. So, I thought that I’d bone up on outsourcing and in-sourcing trends then say something pithy as a lead-in to this column. Consequently, I read all sorts of reports, surveys, and talking-head blather about what’s going on in duh real world. Almost all of this stuff contradicted one another. Which is why the white paper from the people at Canon Large Format Solutions is such a beaut. First, it says that there is no one truth for everyone, so you have to decide what’s right for your business. Then, it helps you work your way toward a decision, while proselytizing for neither approach.

First, an advisory: “Printing Large Format Technical Documents—What’s Best: Print In-house or Outsource?” nominally focuses on the needs of AEC firms. That doesn’t matter. What it covers and how it covers it are equally applicable to design, manufacturing, and process engineering outfits without any more than changing the acronym AEC to your preferred handle a couple of times.

OK, now this paper is a well done, albeit modest, 4-page PDF. It begins and ends where every article on in-house or outsource considerations must: Money. The initial discussion looks at the cost per foot hard-dollar expense of printing large-format documents and, as you might imagine, in-house savings routs outsourcing. As an example, Canon says that some recent customer data shows a 46% or so savings is not unusual after a switch to in-house large-format printing.

Something interesting then happens: It says that you’re oversimplifying eyeing just the numbers. You’ve other hard dollar expenses, say supplies and IT support, as well as amorphous expenses, such as floor space not used for something else, that arise with an in-house large-format printing capability.

It’s here that you get into the heart of the paper, as it pivots to become a compendium of issues swirling about in-house and outsourced large-format printing. It begins with in-house and outsourced costs, which are discussed separately. Both discussions are divided into a box with five considerations and an explanation of their potential costs.

On the outsourced side, the considerations are third-party service fees, shipping, in-house time prepping docs, and extra docs. Extra docs get two entries: Extras in case you need them and extras to meet a lower cost per document threshold. In-house printing covers actual document costs; own or lease and cost by copy fees; supplies; labor; and maintenance.

Next are the pros and cons of both approaches. This part is “squishier” in that these are the variables that affect hard numbers but, for the most part, have no hard numbers until you can gather data living with your decisions. For example, “Outsourcing can be complicated and require management of your vendors.” Or in-house printing has “potential headache factors,” such as application compatibility and lost productivity.

And then it’s a wrap, and it’s a draw. Outsourcing and in-sourcing your large-format printing have their pluses and minuses. What to do is up to you.

But while the paper draws no conclusion and leaves matters for you to decide, it doesn’t leave you in the lurch. “Printing Large Format Technical Documents—What’s Best: Print In-house or Outsource?” leaves you with a tidy guide for reviewing your assumptions about how you handle your large-format printing processes as well as your options for trying a different approach.

It’s worth the download. It’s complimentary, BTW. Good stuff.

Thanks, Pal. – Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood

Editor at Large, Desktop Engineering

Printing Large Format Technical Documents—What’s Best: Print In-house or Outsource?

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About the Author

Anthony J. Lockwood's avatar
Anthony J. Lockwood

Anthony J. Lockwood is Digital Engineering’s founding editor. He is now retired. Contact him via [email protected].

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