Comparison Cost of Large Printing at TechShop Vs. Fedex Office

Introduction: Comparison Cost of Large Printing at TechShop Vs. Fedex Office

This tutorial is written as of February 2013 and is relating a printing experience that happened in January 2013.

I made it at TechShop:! Our company was participating to an event and we wanted to print large paper banner for our booth.

First, this instructable is not about comparing costs of printing flyer or letter paper in big quantity. Here, we are talking about very large paper size, such as (24'' x 100'') and (36'' x 48'').

As it was indoor and a one-time need, we didn't want to do vinyl but simply paper. TechShop offers printing capability with their Canon ipf750. Note that Menlo Park has a larger printer than San Francisco: Menlo Park can handle 36'' wide while San Francisco does only 24'' wide. We are cost-conscious at our company so we wanted to compare the cost between doing at TechShop vs. doing at Fedex Office. The problem is that there is no cost calculator for TechShop printing. We were guessing/hopping that it would be less expensive but we were not sure. Also, there are obviously pros and cons in both options. This instructable compares TechShop vs. Fedex Office and more important provides a TechShop printing cost calculator.

Let's now review the pros and cons of both options:

1) You can upload your stuff on the web, and then you go the store when it's ready. Pretty convenient.
2) You can be very demanding on the quality. If it's not perfect to your taste, you can tell Fedex, do it again. You might have to argue a little bit, but they will most likely accept. And you won't have to pay for the problems.

3) Cost. Fedex Office is very expensive.

4) Cost. As shown below, you will see that it's very inexpensive compared to Fedex Office.
5) You are in control. You are in front of the computer, you can adjust, and you are the one who clicks on the "print" button.

6) You are dependent of a TechShop operator to setup the printer. My operator was not very good. You want an operator to be full of energy and to rock for you, mine was kind of slack.
7) You pay for everything printed. If you screw, you pay for it. Double check before clicking "print".
8) You need to setup the printing dialog box yourself (paper size and so on).
9) No cost calculator. But this instructable fixes this!

- Ask the operator to wear gloves. Mine didn't and he put some ink stain on the paper. It was just in the middle of the tiny white part we had!!! I had to argue with the direction to get a free reprint. At Fedex, I would probably not have to argue.

- Depending which software you are printing from (Illustrator, Photoshop), you might have or might not have to set up the printing dialog box. We were using Illustrator and we were printing in two different large formats. One format was already setup, the other was not. We had to do it ourselves. I don't remember the step-by-step procedure but it was not complex. We had to find the "Advanced" button and defined a custom size corresponding to our second format. We were a little bit scared when I hit the "print" button, ready to cancel but it was good at first try and was printing on the border as we wanted.

- Think twice about the paper quality. We selected the lowest gram - cost conscious again! Something similar to the common letter paper that you use everyday. It was OK and it was not a mistake, but I must say that it was borderline. The problem is one of our format was 24'' by 100'' (60cm by 2.5m). Yes, 100'' = 2.5m is VERY large. And with the lowest paper gram, the rigidity of the paper is the thinnest. We didn't ripped off anything but we had to be super cautious when printing, rolling, unrolling and taping. If we had to do it again, I would perhaps ask for a higher gram.

Basically, you need to go: and follow all the steps. You will see how much it will cost you.

This is the most painful drawback of TechShop but this instructable fixes this problem. TechShop charges for both paper and ink. We did two printouts of (24'' x 100'') and (36'' x 48'').

Paper cost at TechShop
Lowest gram paper costs:
$16.65 / (24'' * 100'') = $0.0069375 / square inch
$12.00 / (36'' * 48'') = $0.006944444 / square inch

Ink cost at TechShop
Here is the fabulous news for you, our printing was covering 100% of the surface with color. So, we are able to provide something around the maximum ink cost that you could bear. And we were printing a dark red color, so we were mixing greatly the different ink cartridges.
$18.50 / (24'' * 100'') = $0.007708333 / square inch
$13.75 / (36'' * 48'') = 0.007957176 / square inch

Total cost at TechShop
If you add up both paper and ink, the cost is around 1.5 cent per square inch. Reminder: 1 square inch = 6.4516 square centimeters.

Obviously, you need to be a member to print at TechShop. This tutorial doesn't include such cost.

After visiting Fedex Office website, the cost for the same printouts were between 2 and 3 times superior to TechShop. Hopefully, TechShop management won't read this tutorial and won't decide to update their pricing!!! ;-) Well, I send them this link to get my free class coupon. Oops, sorry.

In conclusion, I would say and recommend:
- If you are cost conscious, if you have time, if you want to be in control, do it at TechShop.
- If you are in hurry, if you have money, if you don't want to bear the hassle, do it at Fedex Office.

We are providing cost to our best knowledge and to what we paid for the job we describe in this instructable. We make no guarantee if price changes or if we made wrong assumption. You price will certainly differ depending of what you are doing.

TechShop Fedex Office print cost ink paper size color Canon

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    Alan Nishioka

    Thank you for the excellent comparison. The FedEx in El Cerrito has a Canon ipf6400. I was told it is about $8 per square foot. Another difference is the TechShop printer uses dye ink while the FedEx printer uses pigment ink. Dye ink has better color and finer detail, but it will run if it gets wet and fade in the sunlight. Pigment ink stands up better to water and sunlight.