Jul 20 2011

What is offset printing? Offset lithography?

Category: Printing & Publishing


PrintingOffset printing (also called offset lithography) is a printing process that is typically used for commercial printing. It is a distinct process that is commonly used among commercial vendors that produce large orders of magazines, brochures, catalogs, posters, and other printed pieces. It is called offset printing because of the way that the inks are used to print images and text to the substrate. The process starts by taking your digital files and creating a special type of negative film. The negatives are used to create the metal (aluminum) plates that are necessary in the offset printing process. Once the plates have been created they are moved to a press where rollers apply water and a specific type of oil-based ink. Since oil and water will not mix, the oil-based ink is blocked from adhering to any non-image areas. Only the inked area is transferred to an adjacent rubber cylinder that then transfers the image to the paper. The term offset is used because the image isn’t printed directly on the paper from the plates, but rather transferred to another surface that makes contact with the paper.

The Benefits of Offset Printing

Offset printing is often used for larger quantities of commercially printed works because it is typically more economical than other forms of printing. It also ensures that every print is consistent with the original. The printing plates can also be reused making re-prints very easy.

Digital Printing vs Offset Printing

It really depends on the needs of the client as to what type of printing would be better for their particular job. Digital printing is good clients that need quick turnaround and shorter runs (smaller amounts). Offset printing is an economical form of printing that is typically used for larger runs. Take a look at the video below for a detailed description of the advantages and disadvantages of each.

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