The state of printing in China

Someone was asking me this week about doing retail display packaging in China. They simply wanted to know if most vendors were set up to do packaging in addition to product. My answer was yes. Most vendors have a local print mill they call on when they need to do retail display inserts and packaging for their customers. Packaging is never a problem so you should always feel confident when you hand over your packaging specs to your vendor. As long as your specs are complete the vendor will have no problem delivering quality display packaging to you. Remember China makes over 60% of the world’s consumer goods across many industries. And that includes packaging. They know what they are doing.

Anyway this question got me to thinking about, printing in China. In fact, printing in China is very good nowadays. There are over 100,000 printing companies in China, as compared with about 65,000 in the US. And although there are probably quite a few dilapidated state run printing enterprises using out of date equipment among these, a great many other printing companies have state of the art printing equipment from Germany and Japan. A case in point is a printing company I visited in Guangzhou a few years ago. All the equipment in the factory was from Germany, including a state of the art half a million dollar dye-cutting machine.

China’s big labor force is also an advantage as people can be trained to specialize in one area of printing meaning the quality of each section of a printing project is necessarily high. In fact China has about 20 national universities just dedicated to the graphic arts. Needless to say with this combination of skill and low cost, printing in China is an option that many overseas publishers and printing companies look at nowadays. If you have a high-end printing project e.g. a limited edition with a hand stitched leather binding, for example, China is one option you will consider. I have seen deluxe limited edition art books that retail in the US for $600.00- $900.00 which were printed, you guessed it, in China.

Finally I will add that whenever I am in China I usually pick up a few books at the local bookstore where I am staying.. The printing and paper in books you find in China nowadays is extraordinary and in sharp contrast to the almost tissue like paper that books were printed on some 25 years ago in China. In those days the cost was cheap but that cost was every bit reflected in the quality. Nowadays cost is still pretty low but the quality is very high. But what would you expect from the country where printing was invented !

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