There’s some fuzzy math going on out there, so I thought I’d set people straight. Somehow they think it’s less expensive to print a poster themselves than to buy it from a company that specializes in the printing of research posters.
People think: I can buy a poster printing machine for $10,000, and then the paper and ink for a 3×5′ research poster will only cost me about $15, where buying the poster costs $75.
I only wish I made $60 on every $75 scientific poster I sold! Here are the things they forget to consider:
1. Somebody has to spend their time printing the poster. They need to be trained and managed. They get medical, vacation and other benefits. What’s your fully costed rate if it takes a half hour?
2. They need to dedicate space to the printer, the cutting table, the tools, etc.
3. Someone who has printed posters for years can help your poster be better, both by seeing problems and by fixing them. There’s a lot to be said for having an expert looking it over.
4. You need to buy inventory and make sure it’s being replenished.
5. Are you going to qualify materials so you’re sure to get a nice, bright print? How about learning the different setting on your print driver that give you the best color, and often need to be changed when doing things like X-rays?
6. Print 100 research posters a year on that machine, and over a 5 year life that’s $20 per poster. Oh, did I mention that the service contract on the poster printer is $2500 a year? Add another $25 a poster.
We pay for people, equipment and space, and so does anybody else. At the end of the day, we probably make $10 on a poster, and we earn it!