Nearly every business needs commercial printing at one point or another. With so many printing methods out there, how do you choose which one to use? Understanding the options will help you, your printer and your design team decide which is the best option for your project.
Offset lithography is an efficient method of four color printing used for large quantities of print runs. The printer transfers the ink from metal plates onto rubber and then the image is printed onto paper. When printing large quantities of materials, such as brochures or other business literature, this is usually the most cost effective, since the more you print, the lower your cost per item.
Flexography uses rubber plates that have raised areas to transfer ink onto a variety of surfaces. It is usually used for packaging materials, such as boxes, bottles or plastic containers.
Letterpress is the original method of printing invented by Gutenberg. Three-dimensional letters and symbols are coated in ink and pressed onto the paper. This method is dying out and being replaced by more efficient methods, although some artists still use this method for an authentic look.
Screen printing is usually used to print on clothing, mugs, and other objects that aren't flat. With screen printing, the ink is pressed through a silk screen onto the material. This method provides for an efficient way to print images onto large quantities of fabrics.
Digital printing is popular because it is very fast and cheap when used for short-run printing. With this method, the text and image files are transferred from the computer directly onto the paper, without any use of printing plates.
Gravure is an expensive method that uses copper plates to transfer images. It is very high-quality and is usually used for magazines and sophisticated catalogs. Because it is so costly, though, many companies opt for offset lithography, except for when the highest quality of printing is vital.