Offset Printing 101 The Ultimate Guide for Startup

offset printing

In the age of digital everything, its refreshing to see a process like an offset printing making a comeback. Offset printing gives your printed materials an authentic and high-quality feel, as well as extending their lifespan by a significant margin.

Offset printing uses plates made of metal or other non-corrosive material that is coated with ink in reverse so they can be used to print the final product. This article covers everything you need to know about this kind of printing, including how it works and benefits your business.

History of Offset Printing/Lithography

Offset printing began in 1798 when a Munich resident named Alois Senefelder began using stones to reproduce images far superior to any other method available. Alois used stones that had been sketched with a greasy substance and then rubbed with a fountain solution. It took some time and effort to create the first offset prints.
Senefelder discovered offset printing entirely by chance. His mother asked him to write a bill for a worker while he was polishing a stone slab. He wrote the bill on the stone because he didn't have anything else to write on. He then considered applying acid to the stone on which he had written. After some minutes, the unwritten portion of the stone was eaten away a little, leaving the writing inflated.

What Is Offset Printing?

The process of offset printing starts with "blank" paper. The paper is then passed through rollers with ink on them. A plate is then applied to the paper with the design you want to be printed on it. The paper and plate are then run through another set of rollers that are much hotter than the ones used in the first step. Offset lithography printing causes the ink on the plate to melt and stick to the paper. Finally, the paper is run through a dryer so that the ink becomes permanent.

Ink-jet printing does the opposite. It sprays ink onto the paper instead of having the ink "set" onto it. The difference between these processes is that offset printing makes a more durable finished product. Ink-jet printing can be great for making copies of documents, but if you want something that feels like it was printed at a professional shop, offset printing is the way to go.

What is Print-on-Demand (POD) Printing?

POD printing is a printing method that only produces one copy of a given document when ordered at a time. Its a great method for clothing stores and manufacturers that sell directly to customers online. In this case, POD printing is used to create individual garments and other products on demand.

In contrast, offset printing is a method that produces multiple copies of the same document at one time, in bulk. Its used for things like magazines, where the same issue can be distributed to many different regions simultaneously. In a nutshell, POD printing is an individualized, on-demand method of printing. Its common for people to use the terms offset printing and printing interchangeably. However, there is a big difference between printing methods.

Understanding the Difference Between POD and Offset Printing

When it comes to the quality of the finished product, there are some distinct differences between POD printing and offset printing. First of all, POD printing is a digital process as opposed to offset printing, which is a more traditional method. This means that POD printing is good for short-run printing that is meant to be unique or personalized.

Unlike offset printing press, POD printing doesn't create plates that are then used to simultaneously print copies of the same document. Instead, the digital files created in the process are sent to a printer that prints each document individually. Once a document is printed, there is no way to reprint it. This is because there is no plate or master copy to work from.

Why Should You Use Offset Printing?

As you can see, offset printing is a lot more complex than simply pressing a print button on a computer. The investment and setup time for this type of printing is higher than for POD printing, but the results are well worth it. But why use offset printing in the first place? After all, if you are a small business owner, you might be tempted to save money by opting for digital printing methods. Well, there are several benefits to offset printing.

First, offset printing produces high-quality products. The inks used in the process can be incredibly vibrant and long-lasting. As mentioned earlier, this method is also very durable, so your printed materials won't fade after being handled often.

How Offset Printing Works?

The entire process of offset printing starts with creating a plate. You can do this either by hand or digitally. After this, you will create a printing plate from your plate. This involves coating the plate with a substance called photopolymer. This stuff is a light-sensitive chemical that hardens when it comes into contact with light.

Because the chemical is light-sensitive, the next phase involves exposing it to light. This is done with a laser machine. The laser copies the image on your plate and transfers it to the photopolymer on the printing plate. This process is called imaging. Once the image is transferred to the printing plate, the photopolymer hardens, creating a printing plate that's ready to be used.

Offset Printing and Packaging Industry

Offset printing is also playing an incredible role in the packaging industry and has been making packaging products a remarkable tool for marketing for a number of years. Packaging solutions like rigid boxes require offset printing. 

Also, for luxury packaging, you cannot ignore offset printing. For all types of coatings and laminations, along with impeccable prints and color combinations like CMYK and PMS, offset printing is found incredible.

Furthermore, offset is preferred for designs requiring additional processes such as spot UV and foil stamping and requiring a volume of more than 1000 units.

Offset printing is typically required for paperboard packaging, particularly for cosmetic, pharmaceutical, and retail packaging.
Why? Offset printing produces a clearer and more vivid print output for smaller texts and designs. It is critical to maintaining clear and concise information on your packaging in order to communicate important information to consumers.

Types of Offset Printing

As you research the various types of offset printing, you will notice that they are often categorized by the type of paper they use.

Here are the most common types of offset printing. 

First off, there is a standard offset. This is the most traditional type of offset printing, and the one most people think of when they hear the term.

 Then you have UV offset, which is used for printing on non-absorbent surfaces like plastic.

 And finally, you have a digital offset. This is an advanced version of digital printing that uses plates coated with photopolymer.

Key Takeaway

Offset printing is a tried-and-true method that has been used for decades. It is the best option for businesses looking to create items like posters and brochures that require high-quality printing. Offset printing is the way to go if you need printed materials that will last a long time and have a professional feel.

It gives your printed materials an authentic and high-quality feel and will last longer than other types of printing. You will need to create your content before getting your printed materials produced, and you will need to know what type of paper you want to use.

Start your Packaging journey with Half Price Packaging

Get in touch with our product specialist now.

Begin Your Journey

Order a Sample Kit

Get Free Consultation and Order Your Sample Kit to feel More Confident for Choosing Half Price Packaging as your product packaging partner.

sample kit image