Offset printing is a common print process in which the toner image is relocated to the printing surface after passing through a rubber blanket. When combined with oil and water-based repulsion known as lithograph printing, offset deploys a flat image. The modern web-based process takes a large paper reel and feeds it through a huge press machine in different parts mostly of several metre spacing.
From the 20th century onwards, commercial offset printing is the standard method also known as offset lithography that’s capable of bulk printing, mostly for corporations and business organisations. Let’s explore further about offset printing.
The 4-Colour Print Terminology
Both inkjet desktop printers as well as offset commercial printing use CMYK as four basic ink colours i.e., Cyan (blue), Magenta, Yellow and Black (K) that are deposited in particular patterns whereas every colour is applied separately; one per plate. This is the reason offset printing is also termed as 4-colour printing. Offset printing can also apply various metallic and fluorescent (spot) colours to achieve different shades.
Next Gen Offset Print Machines – Fast & Complex
On the contrary, printing services in Dubai are keen at implementation of newer technology in offset print machines which resulted in easy load management, fast and efficient plate changing to reduce order delivery timeline. High-automated offset print machines alongside speed and lower production cost are six-times more efficient and profitable. The new UV inks directly print on the surface rather than waiting up for the ink to dry for a day in the warehouse. Customers can easily have their orders delivered in just a few hours with the UV ink printing process.
For an even better printing experience, there’ve been many smarter and more intelligent software solutions to manage the entire print-to-finish process. These next-gen offset printing machines are capable of monitoring and managing all crucial printing mechanisms while significantly reducing the downtime or delay that were previously caused by process failure and contributes to a more economical printing solution.
Modern-Day Offset Printing
Pre-press production is among the most significant functions of printing which ensures accurate management of the printing files. It covers proper conversion to the CMYK colour model, finalising the files, creating plates for all the colours to get the job done well and so on. Offset lithography is the most common method to print production with applications including newspapers, brochures, books, stationeries, magazines and so on.
Modern offset printing presses follow the computer-to-plate system unlike the traditional computer-to-film; thereby enhancing output and quality of the print. Two types of offset printing methods are followed these days namely wet offset and waterless.
In wet offset lithography, dampening solutions or a combination of wetting fluids are used for ink bonding or adhesion which protects the non-image areas. In waterless offset lithography, the non-image areas are covered by silicon-based ink repellent layers. This waterless lithography is among the modern procedures to offset printing.
Key Benefits of Offset Printing
High-quality results and cost-effectiveness when printing in bulk quantities are primary benefits. With offset, cost per print decreases which makes it a preferred choice when printing in bulk. The process can be time-taking due to shifting and placement of the plates that can be easily ignored when compared with the print quality and perfection.
Consistency in producing sharper, cleaner and clearer prints is perhaps the best benefit of offset than any other method because of conformation of rubber blanket to printing surface texture.
Quick and convenient production of the printing plates and their durability as compared to the direct lithography press is yet another pro fact. Appropriately developed plates are aligned to optimise the ink and fountain solution can easily run for more than a million of impressions.
Offset Printing Process Variations
Blanket-to-Blanket: Both sides of the paper sheet are printed simultaneously where two colour cylinders would press the sheet by passing it in between. The printing process is also referred to as perfecting or duplex because it prints on both sides at the same time. Most common application is for envelope printing whereas both web and sheet-fed printing can be done through this procedure for easier and faster printing.
Blanket-to-Steel: Though similar to the blanket-to blanket, printing pressure of both the plate and cylinder is highly accurate with 0.005-inch at its optimal. The only drawback is single-side print at a time whereas most common applications are in corporate forms, letters and even direct mail advertisements and so on.
Variable-Size Printing: During this particular printing process, removable cartridges, inserts or cassettes are used to print on a single side whereas blanket-to-blanket process is also performed for dual-sided printing requirements.
Keyless Offset: Fresh ink is used for each round of print rather than leftover which enhances the print quality whereas it’s most suitable for newspaper printing.
Dry Offset: A metallic photopolymer plate at the back of the press is used allowing the ink to be transferred directly to the substrate. Most common applications are on plastic buckets, tubs, cups, flowerpots and likewise material.
Digital vs. Offset: Things to Consider When Choosing between Both
Digital print refers to direct printing of the electronic files which is the quickest, most convenient and in-expensive way to get quality printouts. Throughout the years, digital printing technology has come a long way and is now extremely close to the perfection of offset. Still, there’re particular jobs where offset works better. Let have a look at key advantages of both digital and offset printing for a clear and direct comparison.
- High-quality and reliable image that’s cleaner, distinct and completely error-free, except for human biases if any occurs.
- Perfectly balanced colour fidelity which further enhances quality of the output and gives accurate image outcome as the original.
- Perfect printout on almost any material.
- Less cost for bulk printing without compromising on the quality.
- Quicker turnaround time.
- Best for faster printing of identical/same copy when in bulk.
- Preferred for lower volume of printing.
- Easy update of the information or print content as the files can be edited in electronic/digital format.
Now that we know all the basics of offset printing as well as comparison with the digital counterpart, have your printing requirements to be managed by a professional printing agency for perfection.