Printing Terms: What is the Meaning of Multi-Up Printing?

5th Sep 2019

Sometimes jargon in the printing world can become excessively confusing, frequently used terms such as 2-up, 3-up, 4-up, etc. are often regarded without explanation n – so what do they really mean? In short, the “-up” references the way art and files are designed so that more content can be printed faster, using less paper.

Just as you could infer from the name, a simple 2-up format involves two images for each press impression, 3-up involves three images per impression, 4-up involves four images, and so on and so forth. It is also important to note that it is common for single images to be printed at a time, referred in that case as 1-up.

Most simply put, “-up” terms indicate a certain number of instances of an image impressed on the label at the same time. The “-up” term, too, can also refer to impressions of multiple unique images made at the same time. Books, for instance, often print multiple pages together in a single-press impression – hence why books are printed in high “-up” numbers in ranges closer to 16 or 32-up.

For Example

Visualizing a random situation, 600 flyers would be needed at finished dimensions of 8” x 12” and the design/artwork would be printed at 2-up. At that “-up” value, the two separate 8” x 12” flyers can print adjacent to each other on the bigger sheet with each press impression. When 300 of the sheets go through the printing cycle and are fitted with a 2-up impression, they cut implementing the 600 flyers that were needed at 8” x 12” each.

In another situation, multi-up printing could be applied to promotional rack cards. Rack cards are most often designed and printed as 3-up, that way three individual card designs can come from a single 8” x 12” sheet. Therefore, because of the 3-up design, to manufacture 300 promotional rack cards there would only be the need for 100 press cycles.

Another important thing to note would be that smaller sheets can be printed multiple times on paper of a larger dimension. A notepad at 4” x 6”, for instance, could be printed up to four full times (4-up) on an 8” x 12” sheet. In that case there would only need to be 200 cycles to produce up to 800 sheets. Also, the sheet could potentially be designed to print at a much higher 8-up format on a larger 12” x 18” paper. At the increased value of 8-up there would only need to be 100 cycles to produce the same 800 sheet metric that was needed earlier.

Why Print Multi-Up?

From the examples provided, the function and benefit of multi-up printing should be clear, that printing multi-up allows substantially faster and efficient printing.

The higher speed and efficiency results in a cost-effective method for producers, enabling them in turn to charge less for their printing services. There are many other benefits to multi-up printing too, such as increasing cost-effective paper use and causing less strain on printing plates.

Does "-Up" Mean Up?

As mentioned earlier, the amount of jargon in the printing world makes understanding these terms difficult. One would normally assume “Up” refers to images arranged vertically, but in the label world this is not the case. Multi-ups can be printed in any orientation, the only thing specified is the number of images. For example, the images from a 2-up print could either be printed side by side or one above the other, the orientation does not matter.

Essentially, multi-up prints could be in any arrangement needed in order to be ideal on the paper – vertical columns, horizontal rows, or any kind of specialized combination in between.

Our objective at Print.Save.Repeat. is to make the printing business simpler for you. If you have any more questions, feel free to call us at 800-587-1173 and we will be happy to assist you.