1- Check Out Their Capabilities
Which press meets your needs? Not every magazine printing press has the same equipment on their floor, so first you must understand which press can best fit your requirements. You will base this on the size, page count, and quantity as well as paper stock you need for your magazine.
If your quantity is low, usually if 5,000, with a page count of 64 on the average you will be best served pricewise on a 40” sheet fed magazine printing press. If the page count goes up significantly, then a modern web magazine printing press, with fast changeovers from signature to signature will most likely price better than sheet fed.
With quantities for the newbie, say 500 or less, the new digital presses, like the iGen or Canon equivalent will give you better pricing and the quality today rivals ink.
When you get away from a standard page size, you may do better on a sheet fed press, assuming the quantity is reasonable, as once you go beyond a 9 x 11” approximate size on a web press, you are into a small tab size which is a 12 page signature rather than a 16. Many times, this is less of a problem, depending on how big you go, with a sheet fed press, as they have more options for larger sheet sizes, so long as it fits on their press.
2- Do I Need Heatset Or Coldset Web Presses?
The paper you chose for magazine printing, will most often determine the type of press you are best suited for. If you are using uncoated stock, such as offset or news, then pricing will be far more aggressive on a coldset web due to its lesser cost to run. If you are using gloss, matte or dull, the coated stocks, then you must be on a heatset press, which has the dryers necessary to dry the ink quickly and prevent offsetting (smearing from bottom sheet to one above it).
3- Does quality Differ Press To Press?
Modern magazine printing web presses today rival sheet fed presses in quality, but if an older web press then sheet fed will give you a better quality. The heatset presses also tend to be newer and better quality than the older coldset ones thus a better result there as well as higher line screen printing. In addition the heatset press, using coated paper stock, will give you a crisper image, as the ink does not sink into the paper as with an uncoated stock.
4- Press Efficiency Means Efficiency In Cost
The bottom line is this: If you take the time to understand what your choices are with magazine printing presses, then the right press, meaning the most efficient to run your job, will always give you the best cost. A press too large or too sophisticated for your job when not required will give you higher costs than you need. So be sure that you understand where your job should run based on the variables of that job and your requirements for it.