What is a Commercial Printer?

S. Gonzales

A commercial printer is a printer that can produce a large amount of printed products. These products usually are intended to be sold commercially. The term "commercial printer" also can be a title given to a person or company that utilizes physical commercial printers to produce and sell these products or to fulfill printing requests by customers.

Commercial printers may use rolls of newsprint to print newspapers or other publications.
Commercial printers may use rolls of newsprint to print newspapers or other publications.

The commercial printer can differ in quite a few ways from the average printer. First, these printers can be larger than the standard printers that are found in quick-copy printing shops. Their print runs also can be very high and can number in the thousands. It's not uncommon for print runs on a commercial printer to exceed 5,000. It is their large print runs that lead some individuals to refer to a commercial printer as a "large volume printer."

Commercial printers usually handle printing textbooks.
Commercial printers usually handle printing textbooks.

Commercial printers are capable of printing a wide variety of products. These printers might produce brochures, announcements, books, booklets, magazines, posters, stationery and business forms. Invitations, flyers, newsletters, catalogs, portfolios and annual reports also can be printed using commercial printers.

The desired products simply depend on the person doing the printing and the market for which they will be printed. For this reason, a commercial printer also can be referred to as a "job printer." This is because each job that the printer performs can vary in function and in end product. As illustrated above, commercial printers can accomplish many different jobs.

In addition, individuals or companies that use commercial printers for business also can be referred to as commercial printers. These individuals or companies can use physical commercial printers to develop, produce or sale specialty or custom graphic imaging, including any of the products mentioned above. These printers are usually paid for specific jobs, though they can produce thousands of products out of the same job.

It could be argued that most printers can be considered commercial printers because most printed products can be used in commerce. However, when most people refer to commercial printers, they usually are referring to large volume printers that can print multiple types of material on the same machine. Printers that can print only a specific type of product, such as books, aren't usually thought to be commercial printers in the general use of the phrase. However, others make no distinction between the singular-job printers and those that can print many types of products. As long as the products can be produced and sold, the printer can be considered to be commercial.

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