Top 7 Types Of Printing Processes: A Primer
By Margie Gallo Dana
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"Iím a printer" can mean many different things, depending on a particular process. This list should help define the major ones and guide business people in their choice for the perfect vendor:
- Offset Lithography ≠ the most common printing process today ≠ the workhorse! It offsets ink from metal plates to a rubber blanket (cylinder) to the paper. Almost every commercial printer does offset printing.
- Engraving ≠ think "fine stationery." Produces the sharpest image of all. Image feels indented (run your fingers over the back side of the sheet). Most law firms still use engraving.
- Thermography ≠ raised printing, less expensive than engraving. Uses special powder thatís adhered to any color ink. Mainly used for stationery products.
- Reprographics ≠ general term covering copying and duplicating. Think in-house copying departments and copy or quick-printing shops. They take your originals and make duplicates of them.
- Digital Printing ≠ the newest printing process and the least understood! Includes all processes that use digital imaging to create printed pieces. Doesnít use film. (Think desktop to the digital press.) For short-run, fast-turnaround jobs. Limitations include color, paper choices, and quality. But not for long -- the technology is exploding!
- Letterpress ≠ the original process founded by Gutenberg in 1440. "Relief" printing (like rubber stamps, images on the plate are higher than the surface). Fine letterpress is being done by fewer and fewer printers.
- Screen ≠ a.k.a. silk-screening. Ink is forced through a screen following a stencil pattern. Used for ring binders, t shirts, bumper stickers, billboards.
Bonus types of printing
- Flexography ≠ special type of printing for packaging products. The plates used are flexible. Products include cardboard boxes, grocery bags, gift wrap, and can and bottle labels.
- Gravure ≠ prints directly from cylinder to paper. Used when printing for millions of impressions ≠ think magazines, newspapers, and direct mail catalogs.
So when youíre looking for a printer, make sure you know he or she can deliver what you need. Printing is complicated stuff ≠ the more you ask, the better your printed results should be!
Margie Gallo Dana is president of Dana Consulting in Chestnut Hill, MA. Her firm helps printers and print buyers communicate better. Margie sends out a free PRINT TIP OF THE WEEK via email. To subscribe, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or she can be reached at (617) 730-5951 or via her new Web site at http://www.printconsulting.com.
A public speaker and an author, Margie's mission is to eliminate the misconceptions between consumers and the printing industry.
Article Submitted On: January 05, 2001