Everything You Need to Know About Offset Printing

19 Jan

offset printing, also known as offset lithography

Even with digital printing taking over the market, offset printing is still widely used. Why would you opt for it when the press set-up is a time-consuming and expensive process? This post will tell you the reason that offset printing, also known as offset lithography or litho-offset, is still useful for producing high-quality printouts in bulk, like magazines, books, brochures, newspapers etc. It’s termed “offset” because the ink is never transferred to the paper directly. In offset printing, a computer creates the image on a metal plate, usually made of aluminium. This metal plate then transfers the ink onto rubber “blankets” and they roll the ink onto the printing material.

1. Quality of Print

In offset printing, the printing and nonprinting elements come together to form one single continuous surface. The printing surface repels water but absorbs ink, when moistened, while the nonprinting parts do the reverse.

If you are planning to print a large volume of images in high-quality, then offset printing is the way to go. The advantage with it is that the printer is in full control of how much ink is used. A metal blade controls the flow from the ink to the fountain roller. When the operator adjusts the screws, the space between the blade and the fountain roller is modified. This process allows the ink can be increased or decreased and the density of colour in certain areas of the image can be altered.

You can be sure that with offset printing, there will never be a situation where there isn’t enough contrast within the images. The crisp and accurate colour reproduction gives you professional quality photos. This is especially useful for printing books, brochures, magazines, flyers, posters, banners and newspapers.

2. Cost of Print

In this printing method, the cost of each printed item is reduced with each print run. Offset printing is popular among clients because of its low cost for high-quality prints when compared to rotogravure or photogravure methods. These two methods may provide slightly better quality but at a much greater cost.

3. Versatility in Printing Materials

Due to the rubber cylinders, offset printing is applicable to various types of printing surface, including cloth, leather, metal, paper, plastic, vinyl, fabric and wood. This provides you with a unique opportunity as you are not limited to one single type of material only.

4. Speed of Printing

Offset printers are known for their speed when it comes to high-volume jobs. Usually, a printer can run out of paper or ink during the printing cycle or the image can get faded if it’s running on low ink. In offset printers, however, the operator controls the ink flow to ensure that the quality of your print remains uncompromised. They are much faster in delivering large quantities compared to direct printers. The fastest offset printer is known to have produced 10,000 sheets per hour.

5. Cheaper Printing Plates

The printing company usually creates customized printing plates for each project. Nowadays plates are comparatively cheaper and easier to make. Not only that, but they can be used millions of times which greatly reduces printing cost. As a result, this technology is much cheaper than direct printing.

6. Longevity of Printing Plates

Since the printing plates never come into direct contact with the printing surface, they last much longer than direct litho presses. You can achieve a run length of more than a million impressions with optimized inks and fountain solution making it the cheapest method to produce high-quality prints in large quantity.

7. Maintenance

The time and cost for setting up a printing press are high. Anodized aluminium plates have a tendency to become sensitive because of their exposure to chemical oxidation. For this, the plates need to be well-maintained.

Most of the printing companies will consider other methods being more advanced than offset printing, but its consistency in creating quality images quickly remains unparalleled. The wide usability and quick production procedure still make it popular among clients.

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