Many confuse offset printing with digital printing, yes both are flat 4 color printing processes, but the processes themselves are quite different. Offset printing is extremely common, the process and procedure it uses for printing are not very well known. Often considered the gold standard for print quality, offset printing can be more expensive and take a longer period of time than digital printing, depending on the size a quality that is being printed. One advantage of offset printing is the various options of material it offers to prints on. While digital printing is great for printing smaller quantities with a quick turnaround and can often have lower costs, it doesn’t have the 100% accuracy of offset printing, nor the quality. At Roseville Printing we offer both offset and digital printing, so check with us to go over the best options for your printing needs.
So what exactly is offset printing? Offset printing is amongst the most common techniques used for flat printing processes. Offset printing uses a process where ink is transmitted from a plate to a rubber blanket and back to the printing surface. Offset printing is part art and part science. The offset printing process is highly technical (this is the science of it), but the operator of the press also has a hand in achieving wanted finish (this is the art of it) of the printed material.
In your everyday travels you likely come across postcards, signage, greeting cards, brochures and menus, just to name a few things that offset printing is used for. Offset printing, sometimes called lithography, is different from other print processes in various ways including the cost, technology used, processes used, turnaround times and material options available.
In the offset printing process it is extremely important to have well prepared files; this is often one of the biggest mistakes we see, your files must be converted from RGB to CMYK for the offset printing process, this can sometimes slightly or even radically change the look of your image. Make sure your graphic designer knows how to prepare the files for an offset printing job, otherwise you could have unplanned costs to correct it in pre-press.
Once the files are prepared a proof can then be created, this will give you a close representation of what the final printed material should look like. Since the offset printing process is different from the proof process it is never exactly the same, this is because the proof material is often different than the stock material that will be used on the press, this can cause color variation. Once you approve the proof, the job goes to plating. Metal plates are created and then hung on the press. There are four plates; one for each color used in the printing process, one for black, yellow, magenta and cyan or one color may be used for single color print jobs.
Offset printing, much like engraving, a letterpress or other artisan methods, higher volume jobs will get you much better pricing. Since offset printing requires a more set up time and a longer turnaround, it can be much more expensive than digital printing, which can be an issue for smaller projects. Call Roseville Printing today to discuss your options at 916-245-8112.