Have a printing project in mind? Looking for a professional printing company to print your corporate or personal designs? Explore the vast range of local businesses which have the most advanced equipment and the necessary expertise to manage all your printing needs in the most effective way possible. The two most common printing methods are offset printing and digital printing, and the method you choose depends on the type of project you have in mind. Offset printing will be discussed in further detail below.
What is offset printing?
Also known as offset lithography, offset printing is one of the preferred printing methods used by local print shops and is a reliable procedure used by both corporate establishments and for personal use. How does it work? Different metal plates are used for each colour, connected to a roller, which, in turn, transfers ink to a rubber cylinder, and consequently, transfers the ink onto the printing surface. Hence, it gets its name from the fact that ink is not transferred directly to the surface you want printed.
You can choose from sheet fed offset or web fed offset. The former method makes use of single paper sheets, while the latter uses a long continuous roll of paper, making it a faster process. The method used depends on what you want printed.
In contrast to offset printing, no metal plates are used in digital printing. Images are transferred directly from a computer to the digital printing machine, making the process similar to a standard inkjet printer.
What can you print with offset printing?
With offset printing, the possibilities are endless. Whether you need to print a book, newspaper, magazine, or newsletter, a brochure, leaflet or flyer, a catalogue or menu, you can print any corporate or personal product you have in mind, regardless of its size. Corporate items include letterheads, envelopes, labels, business cards and display stands, while other promotional items may include posters, stickers, bookmarks, postcards and vouchers. Wedding invites can also be printed by an offset printer. All these jobs can be managed by the professional print shops in Malta and Gozo.
Offset printing vs Digital printing
When should you choose offset printing over digital printing or vice versa? Here are some factors you need to take into consideration when choosing the best printing method:
Number of print copies & sheets you need
How many copies do you need printed? What's the total number of sheets you need? If you just need a handful of copies, best opt for a digital printer, while offset printing would be a better option if you need to print hundreds or thousands of copies. Why? Digital printing would be more cost-effective when you have small volumes as an offset printer would require more materials, equipment and time, thus increasing initial costs. Offset printers are more efficient in producing large volumes of copies, as paper and ink supplies are cheaper than those used in digital printers.
Thus, you need to consider whether the number of copies you need makes it worthwhile to opt for offset printing. The initial costs of offset printers may be much less than the higher paper and ink costs associated with digital printers.
Offset printing is synonymous with more precise and high quality colour. This is especially crucial when corporate brands have a specific pantone colour which they need to reproduce in promotional items, as part of their brand awareness strategy.
Size of printing surfaces
Offset printers can produce large format prints, in contrast to digital printers.
Time needed to print
Since an offset printer requires more time to set up than a digital printer, the latter is a preferable alternative when you have tight deadlines, which require you to opt for the faster printing method.
With offset printing, you'd have a wider selection of materials to choose from, when compared to digital printing. The types of surfaces, finishes and inks which can be used are more varied.
Type of data: Invariable or variable
If you need to personalise data in each print copy, you need to opt for digital printing. Greeting cards or invites would require each copy to have its own unique data, a feature which offset printers don't allow.
Printing needs vary from one company to another and from one project to another. The printing press will guide you on the most cost-effective option, helping you choose the best way forward.
Pros of offset printing
- Used for larger prints since it's more cost effective than digital printing
- Best printing method for commercial quantities as reusable printing plates keep printing costs low
- High quality colours will be identical for all prints, since the same amount of ink is transferred to the printing surface
- You have a vast range of surface and ink finishes to choose from
Cons of offset printing
- Not effective for small print amounts as initial costs are quite expensive
- Since it requires time to set up all the necessary machinery and printing plates, it's not practical for emergency jobs
- Data cannot be customised for each printed copy
What's the process of ordering an offset printing job?
- Ask for a quote
- Send the design: make sure you follow the artwork guidelines in order to avoid delays and errors. Some printing presses have introduced online portals where users can log in and upload all the designs and images online
- Proof is sent to client by post or email
- Upon approval, the press proceeds with the printing
- The final prints can either be picked up or delivered when ready
Printing services offered by offset print shops
Apart from printing, a number of print shops may offer other services:
- Pre press services: typesetting, image editing etc…
- Post press services: binding, perforation, stamping, folding, lamination, stitching, creasing, embossing etc...
- Packaging and delivery
Want to discover other printing alternatives? Explore large format printing, silk screen and hot foil printing, photo printing companies and much more on Yellow.