Technically, full bleed printing does not require a special kind of printer. You can use a standard desktop printer to make a full bleed print. That means that you can buy a full bleed printer anywhere!
The more important question is: how do you do full bleed printing with a standard desktop printer?
Today, I’m going to describe a method that will work if you’re printing a small number of sheets and you’re open to full bleed sheets that are smaller than 8.5×11”.
How to make full bleed prints with a standard desktop printer
The process of printing full bleed prints with a standard desktop printer is pretty straightforward.
First, you design your prints to have bleeds that you will be cutting off. Then, you cut off the bleeds with an exacto knife or a pair of scissors. That’s it!
When you design your file, keep in mind that your sheet size will be smaller than 8.5”x11” after you’ve trimmed off the bleeds. Since most standard desktop printers can only print on an 8.5×11” sheet, your finished dimensions after you trim off the bleeds will be 8”x10”.
Also, keep in mind that doing more than 5-10 sheets using this method will be very time consuming (and inaccurate). Professional printing companies use a guillotine cutter that can cut through hundreds of sheets at a time.
So—as you can see—you can actually go anywhere to buy a full bleed printer to do basic full bleed printing.
Where can I buy a full bleed printer that prints a full bleed 8.5×11” sheet?
If you want to buy a full bleed printer that can do a standard sized sheet, you’ll have to buy a wide-format desktop printer, like this Epson WorkForce WF-7510 on Amazon. (That’s a link for your reference and is not a printer recommendation; shop around for the best deal/rating.) Notice how the specifications say that you can print “up to 13”x19”” sheets.
You will also need to buy a ream of 12”x18” paper (example ream at Staples). This will allow you to print 2 of your 8.5×11” full bleed design on a single sheet. It’s best to use 12×18” instead of 11×17” because 11×17” can’t fit two sheets of 8.5×11” with their extra bleeds.
Now, you can print an 8.75”x11.25” image, so that you can cut off the edges and leave you with an 8.5×11” sheet. Make sure that you are always designing properly for full bleed to avoid any content from getting cut off.
But notice that cutting is still an issue. It’s still time-consuming and inaccurate to hand-cut the sheets one at a time; even if you had a hand-held guillotine paper cutter (like this one at Amazon).
So how does a professional printing company do it well?
A professional printing company differs from the way you might do it at home with the printing and cutting equipment.
The presses that professional printing companies would use are able to print a 12”x18” sheet at a faster speed and with more accuracy. Professional printers are always checking quality of color, registration, and paper shift to make every print consistent.
Next, printing companies also use a motorized guillotine paper cutter. Like I mentioned above, this allows the printing company to cut a few hundred sheets at a time. The blades are sharper and the arms are stronger. Instead of cutting 4 cuts per sheet of paper, the printing company can do 4 cuts per thousand sheets of paper.
Is it worth it to print full bleed from home?
If you have the time, patience, and steady hand, then creating full bleed prints might work for you. However, for 100% accuracy, it is best to order through a professional printing company. It will save you a huge headache, result in a higher quality print and cut, and it will probably save you money too!
Printivity offers color copies not only at the standard 8.5” x 11”, but you actually choose any custom dimension in full bleed. If you have any questions about designing or ordering for full bleed, call us at 1-877-649-5463! Our customer service representatives will walk you through all of your questions.