Everything you need to know about offset printing

DATE:August 10, 2018

Offset printing is one the many capabilities we offer at Imagine! Express. Offset printing can print paper stock in large quantities that are easy to use and are reusable. Let us walk you through this old method of printing that has developed through time to become one of the most commonly used, cost-effective printing methods in modern day.

What is the history behind offset printing?

This printing technique was first developed in the late 18th century as an inexpensive way to produce images and text. This type of printing flourished so quickly because it introduced a way to reproduce artwork and a low cost. Before this method existed, artwork could only be copied through an extreme amount of time, effort and cost. The image quality was also one that was very difficult to see. This form of printing brought a new perspective to art.

What is the process of offset printing?

One main distinction of offset printing is how the water and ink do not mix while in process. Many other techniques use lasers, mesh, or letterpress in their printing methods. In offset printing, images and texts are placed on plates where the water and ink are applied. The images on the plates are then rolled over by a rubber mat. Next, the rubber mat is placed on the paper stock and the image is ready to go.

There are four colors that most, if not all, companies will use when using an offset printer: cyan, magenta, yellow and black, also known as CMYK . These colors offer vibrant shades that bring the printed image to life.

Now that you understand the process, here are some other details about offset printing.

Why is the ink not directly placed on the paper?

This printing method would not be called offset printing if the ink was directly placed on the photo stock. By applying this offset method, there are less chances for errors to occur. The ink will not smudge leaving a top-quality product for the consumer.  This process allows the image quality to be consistent with all product pieces.

The use of the rubber mat

When offset printing began in 1843, printing companies would use a metal mat plate to transfer the image to a printed surface. This process did the job, but the image was not as clear as they would have hoped. That all changed when Ira Rubel, a paper manufacturer in Nutley New Jersey, forgot to place the mat in the printer in 1901. Because of this “mistake” the rubber mat was developed. Rubel then recognized that a rubber mats produced a more accurate image when released than using a metal mat plate that was first used in offset printing. Since then the offset printing process took off and is still one of the most commonly used printing processes today.

When can you use offset printing?

Offset printing is commonly used for commercial print such as newspapers, magazines, postcards, flyers, brochures and catalogs. This printing method is not only cost effective, but there are a variety of printing materials that can be used including  paper, card stock and vinyl. You can also make a custom ink with your choice colors. This is a great method to think about when developing a marketing campaign and you need materials printed in your company colors. The best advantage you can get when using offset printing is the quality of print that you will receive. It gives you the best print for your buck!

If this blog sparked your interest in offset printing, check out our previous post detailing the differences between digital printing and off-set printing!

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