There are many different printing processes to choose from when you are ordering custom printed products for your business.
Here are some simply worded explanations for the most common types of printing processes, along with the benefits, and drawbacks of each one.
Offset printing is the most used lithography printing process. With offset printing, the image is stamped or burned on a prepared plate which is placed on a cylinder. The cylinder with the plate rolls against the ink (form) rollers and picks up the ink needed to create the image. The plate cylinder then transfers the image to the “blanket” cylinder, which delivers the ink to the substrate (paper).
Flexography is a printing process that finds it roots in the letterpress of old. The image is made into a positive mirror image on a stamp-like rubber plate. The rubber plate with the raised image is mounted onto the plate cylinder.
The plate roller picks up “sticky” or “gel” ink from the anilox roller and the image is rolled into the substrate. The secret to making this process work accurately is that the doctor blade will ensure an even coating of ink to avoid splotches and clumps.
Pad printing uses a silicone pad to transfer a 2D image from a cliche (design plate) onto a 3D substrate.
A web press is a large machine designed to print massive quantities in a very short amount of time. Web presses handle quantities of 10,000 or more and deliver clear images and consistent quality. These are the machines used to print newspapers, magazines and catalogs.
To begin processing, a large roll of paper (web) is mounted into the web press. The paper travels through the machine and is re-rolled after being printed so that it can be transferred to another machine for cutting. The two most commonly used web presses are the offset web press and the inkjet web press.
Offset Web Press
Offset web presses are a very efficient form of printing because cylinders make it possible to print both sides of the paper simultaneously. There are two options for offset web presses:
1. Heatset web offset printers use heated air to quickly dry the ink and set it in the page.
2. Coldset web offset printers allow the ink to dry naturally and slowly.
Inkjet Web Press
Inkjet web presses use computer-controlled nozzles to spray dots of colored ink onto the paper to create an image. The paper can then be turned over and printed on the other side or travel the length of the machine to be re-rolled. The travel time is necessary for the ink to dry on the paper.
This article is a very basic introduction to printing processes. Most of the technical details have been left out in favor of offering a broad overview.
To learn more technical details about each process or to ask questions about how a certain printing process would benefit your business, contact John Valleau at 816-373-1180 or e-mail him at .