The purpose of this study is to document current cost-estimating practices used in commercial digital printing. A
research study was conducted to determine the use of cost-estimating in commercial digital printing companies. This
study answers the questions: 1) What methods are currently being used to estimate digital printing? 2) What is the
relationship between estimating and pricing digital printing? 3) To what extent, if at all, do digital printers use full-absorption,
all-inclusive hourly rates for estimating?
Three different digital printing models were identified: 1) Traditional print providers, who supplement their offset
presswork with digital printing for short-run color and versioned commercial print; 2) "Low-touch" print providers, who
leverage the power of the Internet to streamline business transactions with digital storefronts; 3) Marketing solutions
providers, who see printing less as a discrete manufacturing process and more as a component of a complete marketing
campaign. Each model approaches estimating differently.
Understanding and predicting costs can be extremely beneficial. Establishing a reliable system to estimate those costs
can be somewhat challenging though. Unquestionably, cost-estimating digital printing will increase in relevance in the
years ahead, as margins tighten and cost knowledge becomes increasingly more critical.