Offset Printing: Revisited

When you pick up a magazine or a brochure perhaps with all their vibrant color images and clear text, or choose a product from a catalog, have you ever wondered how these print items were produced? We know that in every publication there are a number of experts and professionals involved in the creative process – from the planning, to the design, and all the way to writing the content. Whatever is produced from this creative effort, commercial printers usually turn them into printed materials that we see in our mailboxes and on racks.

These printers use different printing methods to come up with the publications we read almost everyday.

And one of the most commonly used printing processes is the offset printing. Offset printing is a printing method that transfers the inked image to a rubber blanket, and then applied to a printing surface such as your paper. Most printing companies use this method to reproduce large volumes of documents like your brochure or catalogs because it is generally less expensive than the other printing processes. What most commercial printers do is to produce the documents in a computer, print out the drafts, and then use offset printing to generate the final result. The plates on the other hand, are produced from film or high resolution paper output. This method is so popular because of these things: 1 – Compared to other printing methods, it usually produces high quality image consistently. Compared to letterpress printing, offset printing has sharper and cleaner graphics and pictures precisely because the rubber blanket conforms to the surface the image is being printed. 2 – Although the costs of the equipment and setting it up are quite high, the actual printing process itself is relatively cheap. 3 – Printing plates can be easily made and fast. 4 – Printing plates have longer life span compared to direct lithographic presses because the process avoids direct contact from the plate onto the printing surface.

So what are the kinds of offset printing? There’s the photo offset for one, where light-sensitive chemicals and photographic methods are used to transfer the image and text from its original form to the printing plates. Then there’s the sheet-fed litho where offset litho printing is applied on single sheets of paper or board. This is generally used to do short runs of magazines, letter headings, brochures, and other general commercial printing. Basically, offset printing is a very popular commercial printing method especially for high volume jobs because anyone who uses it gets to have quality materials at much lower printing costs.

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