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What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is the process of printing on a traditional printing press utilizing a plate (metal, polyester or paper) hung on the press which transfers ink of an image to a blanket. The blanket accepts ink and transfers it to the paper.

Offset vs Digital

There are many reasons to have a printing company who has both offset and digital printing capabilities because for small runs of multiple colors are more affordable when printed digitally and some runs with single or a few colors are more affordable when printed using offset printing. Having printing professionals who know when one method is better or more affordable than the other is like having your best friend looking out for you and your business.

History of Offset Printing

Offset printing is what Ben Franklin learned at the age of 12. By the age of 15, his brother had created the New England Current newspaper. By the time he was 17, he had gained the relevant printing skills to find employment in any shop.

Offset printing was originally done with the use of individual letters made from metal. These letters were manually locked together with wooden blocks. Then a roller run through ink was run over the surface of the letters and the letters were pressed onto the paper surface. Letter presses were used through the 60's and 70's until the paper or metal plates were used to transfer the image. Some of those same printing presses are used today to do engraving with embossed metal plate in a similar way it was done years ago. This method of offset printing is known as engraving because it stamps the paper and causes an impression in the paper. Engraving is more expensive than the now traditional offset printing because of the metal engraving plate.

Another type of printing that is raised is known as thermography. Thermography is also done with an offset printing method. The paper is printed and while the ink is wet, the paper is sprinkled with a fine powder that raises when heated. The paper runs through the powder device and is carried by a metal grated belt through a "shaking" area, then through a heated device that raises the ink. When the paper comes out of the heated device it is completely dry and ready to be cut.