What is offset printing? What does it consist of and how does it work?

The advantages of offset printing include low costs for large print runs and extremely good quality. The option used for lower print runs is digital printing. What is the difference between these two methods?

What is offset printing?

Offset printing, also known as flat printing, is one of the most popular ways of reproducing text and graphics. The origins of offset are linked to the invention of lithography by Alois Senefelder. Just as many other inventions, offset arose as though by chance when the German graphic artist, wanting to save on printing theatre scripts, noticed that the best way of saving information is using stone and soot mixed with soap and wax. The created content was then moistened using water and covered in paint. This led to the creation of a printing matrix that could then be used to reproduce the work.

By definition, offset is a technique that involves transferring the image from a flat printing plate to a sheet, which is usually paper. At present, such a printing technique is enabled by a cylinder covered in an offset rubber called a “blanket”. The paint from the offset matrix is then transferred to the blanket and then to any printing substrate. The types of rubber used in offset printing differ in terms of their intended purpose, structure and thickness. The most popular are conventional and compression ones.

What types of offset printing are there?

Offset printing can be divided into sheet and roll offset printing, which are further broken down into coldset and heatset printing, in other words, cold and hot offset printing. There also is UV offset printing which uses printing inks cured by ultraviolet radiation. This is a great solution not only in the case of offset but also screen printing, flexographic printing, and typo offset.

What are the characteristic features of offset printing?

Offset printing is usually the method of choice when it comes to large label print runs. The larger the number of projects for printing, the lower the cost of production. Unfortunately, in the opposite case, in other words, when there is a low print run, offset printing may not be feasible because the price of the printing plate and its exposure to light is too high. The companies that opt for offset printing for large print runs appreciate the numerous advantages of this solution. The most important feature of offset printing is the high print quality that is obtained. Clients have the possibility of using self-adhesive labels, thick cartons, film, big formats, and many other additions. In offset technology it is possible to print not only using the CMYK colour gamuts but also additional colours like silver, gold, and colours from the Pantone scale. The print can additionally be covered in film, embossed, varnished, given a gloss finish, and cut as desired.

Another popular technique of reproducing text and graphics is digital printing. What are the differences between offset and digital printing?

Offset Printing vs Digital Printing – The Differences

Digital printing is possible directly from a file sent to a computer. It does not require printing plates to be prepared at the start of production. Due to the low costs involved, this is one of the best solutions for low and medium label print runs. Printing using digital technology, contrary to offset printing, can be personalised. The decision of whether offset or digital printing should be used depends on many different factors. It is worth remembering that digital printing is dedicated for low and medium print run projects. It is also suitable whenever it is necessary to combine print runs or personalisation or numbering features are to be applied.



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