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In our last article we delved into the printing closet and emerged in a wonderful world of different techniques that’d put Narnia to shame (in my mind anyway, who needs talking lions?) Here are a few more magical methods…

Offset Lithographic Printers:

Offset Lithography is one of the most commonly used printing processes in the commercial environment. The offset lithographic process is started off by the transfer of an image photographically to either a piece of thin specialised metal, plastic or paper printing plates. The rollers next apply a oil-based ink as well as water to these specialised plates. As oil and water do not mix, the ink will only stick to the areas of the actual image. Then the imaged area only is transferred via a cylinder to the paper. It is named “offset,” because the images are not printed directly to the paper. There are two different presses that use this offset lithographic process and these are:

  • Sheet-fed Offset: This method involves individual sheets being fed into the press. This is done by the use of a suction bar which lifts each sheet into place. This particular method is often used in the printing of magazines, brochures as well as general commercial printing. This type of printing technology produces good quality print at a very fast speed.
  • Web-fed Offset: The term web-fed actually refers to the rolls of paper that are used in this printing process. Examples of web-fed offset printing include newspapers, magazines and also books. There are two types of web-fed presses, non-heat set and heat set. Non-heat set is when the inks dry through absorption into the paper, whilst heat set offset uses lamps to dry the ink. As well as being a really quick method of printing, some web-fed offset printers can cut or fold the paper.

The offset lithographic printers hold a massive advantage to commercial businesses over the likes of a desktop printer. In the commercial environment, desktop printers would not be able to achieve a result worth of comparison.

Flexography Printing:

Flexography is a high speed printing process that uses quick drying inks. The ink plates are made of plastic and are rotated on a cylinder to transfer the image which is in a slightly raised position on the cylinder. This printing process is mainly used for printing on foils, plastics, brown paper and other form of packaging. Without this kind of commercial printer, packaging business would find it incredibly difficult to producing images on different materials at a low cost.

Gravure Printing:

This is when an image is etched on to a metal plate and the depressions of the image are then filled with ink. The paper is then placed against the plate and the image is printed. This method is also used for labels and packaging.

Photogravure Printing:

This printing process is used mainly for the printing of fine art prints. It is a slow and time consuming process. It is when an image is printed from an etched copper plate and fine lines are used instead of dots. However, if you want the image printed properly, it is a result worth waiting for.

Thermography Printing:

This type of printing produces an effect that is similar to engraving but is created when a powder is added to the ink on the document. The print is then heated to achieve the desired result. This type of printer is used by commercial businesses, such as designers and those who make wedding invitations. Again, with this kind of printer, a desktop in its place would just not be able to achieve the desired result.

3D Printers:

3D printers are the newest commercial printing technology available to date. A 3D printer creates 3D objects by building up different layers of material.

So there you have it, it’s not a complete, comprehensive guide but it does give you an idea of some of the different methods you can use and what they do. The offer’s still open from last time, if you want some advice on which printing method to use, we’re here to help.