Offset Printing

Written by Anthony Tedesco
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Offset printing is the most common printing method in use today. Most of the world's newspapers, publishers and commercial businesses rely on the quality and consistency of the method. Offset printing, combined with modern lithographic techniques have made today's printing easily the most impressive ever, with only the emergence of digital technology as the only threat to its long reign.

Offset printing is handled by adding the water and ink to one cylinder which then transfers the image to a secondary, or "offset," cylinder. This secondary cylinder is made of rubber, which is much more pliable and will adopt the shape of the printing medium. This gives the images a much crisper appearance over older methods (like cardboard).

Printable Materials

Offset printing is amazing because it can print on a host of different mediums. Paper isn't the only surface on which you find offset printing being used. Wood, rubber, and fabric all commonly use offset printing. Even leather and metal can be imprinted with high quality images and text with no sacrifice in quality.

Most of today's papers are designed with offset and professional printing in mind, giving them an incredible amount of versatility regarding inks and impressionability. Even vellum, known for being temperamental with certain inks, is much easier to use today in printing houses than ever before.

Business Based Printing Needs

Business depends on the availability of advertising to thrive. Most companies today can't afford to air television commercials, so they have to rely on printed catalogs, postcards and other products to get the message out. Brochures and posters, too, are an integral part of most small businesses' plans of attack.

Printing Your Materials Affordably

The problem for these companies becomes cost. It's extremely expensive to try to promote your own business if you have to print your own advertising materials. The ink alone is more expensive than the printing and the postage, so finding an inexpensive alternative is the key. Professional printing houses are the answer to their prayers.

Today's professional printers incorporate all of the latest lithographic technology with current computer and graphic design options to create the most complete printing authority. Not only can you turn to a printing house to print your needs, but they often have a staff devoted to creating the design and layout of your materials as well. Outsourcing the entire task will save you hours of work and thousands of dollars in the long run, especially if you opt to go the printed materials route again.

Printing Options for Private Users

Some people might want to produce a large quantity of resumes for large mailings. Maybe someone wants to produce a manuscript for distribution to agents or publishers. Going to your local photocopy place is okay for only a few copies. For hundreds, however, you're better off contacting a professional printer. They can handle all of the collating and joining you might want to include in the process.

Until digital lithography becomes the industry's driving force you can expect to see traditional printing to continue for several more years of continued dominance. The cost of digital equipment is rapidly dropping as component availability increases, so within the next ten years you can expect to witness another printing revolution. The image quality is comparable to current technology, but the speed and accuracy of printing with digital equipment is going to be unparalleled as more and more designers and operators immerse themselves in the medium.

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