Gang Run Printing

What is Gang Run Printing?

Gang run printing is a printing method in which multiple print projects from multiple customers (all the print jobs typically being the same sizes such as 4” x 6” postcards) is placed on a common sheet of paper in an effort to reduce paper waste, and more importantly to most clients, reduce print costs by sharing in the set up, make ready, and press wash-up time.

Gang run printing is used generally with sheet-fed offset printing presses using four color process inks (CMYK, or cyan-magenta-yellow-black). These offset presses require four separate metal printing plates each on one of four different press units (for a typical four color offset printing press), with each press unit printing one specific CMYK ink color. The ink is transferred from an ink well onto the metal plate which then transfers the ink onto a rubber blanket, which then transfers the ink color onto the paper. It takes roughly 250 sheets of paper for “make ready”, which is a phrase used for getting the ink levels set correctly onto the paper using calibration systems for accuracy.

Printers use the term gang run to describe the practice of placing as many different print jobs as possible on the same sheet of paper. Sheet-fed presses for gang run jobs are generally “full-sheet” (28″ x 40″), or “half-sheet” (28″ x 20″) presses. In offset printing, the first sheet costs more than the next 1,000. Gang-run printing allows multiple jobs to share the setup cost, which typically is the costliest part of the printing process, especially on shorter quantity runs. Once the press setup is complete and the press is ready to run the job, the remainder of the cost is paper and hourly rates of the presses to run the job.

Over the years, gang run printing has been the driving force in the substantial drop in pricing for full-color printing. With the help of resources such as the internet, the process allows customers to order and transfer job files online, further reducing the cost associated with color printing. Furthermore, most gang run systems are automated throughout the prepress stages which contributes even more to reducing the cost of color printing by minimizing costly manual labor.


Cost – By running multiple clients and jobs together on the same sheet of paper, print costs are reduced to a fraction of what it used to cost for full color printing.
Extremely economical – Print jobs share the same print run which reduces manpower, consumable costs such as plates, and manual labor including set up time and press wash-up labor.
Reduces labor time waste – Less paper wasted on set up since multiple jobs and clients are sharing in the make ready cost, less press cleanup time due to when a press run is done another set of plates can be hung, and the press is off and running on the next job up for production.


Lack of paper stock choice – One must choose the paper stock common to all the projects on the same sheet. Limited paper choices is becoming more acceptable within the print industry in exchange for lower print cost for full color printing.
Lack of color control – Color balance on a gang print run is difficult to maintain. Since so many other print projects are placed side by side, a gang run printing project is harder to control for color quality issues. Perfect color match isn’t possible but acceptable for lower cost of full color printing.
Ghosting – Because an adjacent project may have a heavy solid color that may affect the final result of your print job although most printers take this into consideration when ganging jobs to minimize color shifts.
Cannot accommodate custom print quantities – This adds to paper waste due to the fact if you need 8,500 finished pieces and gang run prices is for 10,000, regardless of quantity you will get 1,500 additional pieces for the same cost.
Reprints cost more – rerunning a print job from the same plate previously used would mean reproducing unwanted copies of adjacent projects sharing the same sheet or plate. It is more cost effective for printers to add your job onto a new gang run print order. Although cost is still much cheaper than what color printing used to cost, the need to save plates is less than it was when gang run printing wasn’t readily available.
Harder to get custom colors or coatings – by nature of the press run, it is not cost effective to get custom spot colors, varnish effects, or coatings when gang running print jobs. Because of this there is still cost associated with special colors, or coating and finishing effects.


Although there can be many limitations associated with gang run printing, the underlying advantage of having lower printing costs offsets most of the disadvantages. When print costs were considerably higher than what they are today, customers were more critical of exact colors, papers choices, and the overall process of four color offset printing. Today, with printing costing a fraction of what it used to, acceptable color is much less critical simply because cost becomes more a factor than perfect printing. The printing industry use to be an industry of craftsmen. In today’s printing world it is an industry driven by technology and pricing, which lowers the need for craftsmen but makes print budgets manageable.

MidTown Printing
475 Hill Street, Suite 3
Reno, NV 89501

Phone: (775) 322-2700

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