A reader asked me what's the difference between a web printer and sheet fed printer. I posted this question to the Digital Webbing Creator Community about a month ago, and no one had an answer for. But here's a good explanation.
"Depending on the length of your press run, your print job will be produced on either a web (roll-fed) or sheetfed press. It pays to learn what equipment your printers have on the pressroom floor--and hence what kinds of jobs your printers focus on--since most printers do not have both web and sheetfed capabilities.
As a rule, web presses are best suited for longer runs. Web presses run at much higher speeds, and most have some finishing capabilities folding, gluing, etc.) at the delivery end of the press. Whereas a press sheet comes off a sheetfed press as a large, flat sheet of paper, a web press may deliver a complete, folded signature, ready for binding. This can speed up the entire production process significantly.
Sheetfed presses are best suited for shorter runs and where showcase quality is required. Sheetfed presses can also run heavier paper, and conversely web presses can run newsprint or other thin paper. Some sheetfed presses can turn the sheet over within the press and print both sides in one pass. However, all web presses must perfect (print both sides at once), since it would be nearly impossible to run the roll of paper through the press a second time while achieving close register.
As a general rule, consider a web press when the number of impressions exceeds 25,000. Remember that a brochure that would fit "six-up" on a sheet would count as 1/6 of 25,000 impressions. If you are confused as to which press would be more appropriate, bid out your job to both web and sheetfed printers.
*[Steven Waxman is a printing consultant. He teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, sells printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the industry for twenty-five years, working as a writer, editor, photographer, graphic designer, art director, production manager, and print buyer.]"
In summing up, you can usually get the best price and best quality for a comic book print run such as mine (3000) from a sheet fed printer. Marvel and DC books are web based for cost purposes - you can tell be feeling how thin the paper is.