A converter may determine how long the job will be “on press” then calculate the hourly rate, plus substrate cost, prepress, shipping charges and any other “value-added” services (which is a big variable that we will discuss later) and then adds profit to come up with a quote. Many converters consider the details used to create their hourly rate a secret, as it is an expression of their expertise and not just arithmetic. There is a science to quoting a sell price but there’s also the “relationship” factor. The price may be adjusted just because of the relationship the converter has or is trying to build with the customer. The converter may give a lower quote to a client who buys a high-volume of print annually, or if the converter is trying to win a new job, or this wide format job will allow the converter to gain other pieces of print (like post cards, mailings, flyers, etc).
Of course, in most cases, the print buyer does not know or care which hardware is used to print the job as long as it meets his/her standards and deadlines. A converter may need to move the printed location of a job to another press to meet delivery deadlines. Usually the hourly press rates, for those presses that produce comparable jobs, are deliberately constructed not to be significantly different, to allow for this “load balancing.”
So—what is the current selling price of wide format printed output? Well—IT DEPENDS! A converter may use a “per square foot” calculation to determine selling price but the square foot rate is variable and determined by many factors. The top factor that influences the sell price of wide format print is substrate selection, followed by ink coverage/file dimensions/one or two-sided print, and then value-added services.