Printing Techniques

When you need to print something on a mass-production scale, optimising the use of your resources is the key to reducing costs and increasing the speed of production. This is where offset printing comes in handy as the go-to choice for healthcare and pharmaceutical companies that need printing for tablet cartons, boxes and so on. Because these are produced en-masse, it’s best to look at a high-volume printing solution such as offset printing that can provide you with cost-savings yet still produce high-quality results.

In this article, we’re going to take a look at offset printing and how it differs from regular digital printing, its advantages and also the types of technologies available.

How Does Offset Printing Work?

Offset printing works by transferring (offsetting) the images on metal plates to rubber blankets or rollers that are then used to print. The media such as paper or card doesn’t actually come in contact with the metal plates, meaning that the printing plates themselves will last longer. The rubber printing roll also has the advantage of being flexible in its use, meaning it can be printed on materials other than paper.

What Are the Benefits of Offset Printing?

  • It produces high-quality consistent images
  • Due to the extra steps involved, it’s more efficient for large print runs
  • Offset printing is much cheaper than the alternatives when you print in large volumes
  • You can print on a range of different materials and surfaces
  • Quality can be improved with modern computer-to-plate systems

What’s the Difference Between Digital Printing and Offset Printing?

Digital printing technologies are incredibly common nowadays because they’re accessible, easy to use and often much cheaper for low numbers of prints. However, the way the images transfer onto the paper is different, ultimately affecting the cost.

With digital prints, electrostatic rollers (known as drums) are used to apply toner onto the paper. The rollers will then repeat for each color being used, eventually applying itself onto the sheet and fusing with it via heat. There’s very little setup due to the technology used, but it can be incredibly slow compared to offset printing due to the fast process.

Offset printing typically has better color reproduction than digital printing due to the way the ink adheres to the surface thanks to the flexible rubber roller. It’s much cleaner and the results are reproducible every time due to the way offset printing works. Digital printing also has the disadvantage that you’re very limited by the size of the printer, whereas offset printing can handle a variety of sizes with ease. However, there’s no denying how useful digital printing is for smaller print numbers.

What Types of Offset Printing Technologies Are Available?

Offset printing is heavily based on the lithographic process, but recent technological developments have helped it to take advantage of modern advances. The two most common types of offset printing today are sheet-fed offset printing and web offset printing. Sheet-fed offset printing uses individual sheets of paper that are fed into the machine, and web offset printing focuses on high-volume publications that change content often such as newspapers.