Last week we discussed digital printing, so this week I thought we would dive into flat or offset printing since the two are often confused. Like digital printing, offset printing is flat on the page and uses a four color process (CMYK). However, the end result (and the process to get there) is much different in offset printing than digital printing.
THE OFFSET PROCESS
Offset printing uses plates to create the printed image. For jobs requiring a wide range of color, a plate is created for each of the four colors that make up CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black). The inked image on the plate is then transferred to a rubber blanket that is ultimately printed on the surface of the paper.
OFFSET vs. DIGITAL
For those of you like myself who prefer the abbreviated version, here are the main differences between the two processes:
1. Offset uses printing plates and is more labor intensive than digital.
2. Offset can print on a wider range of paper stocks, including heavier weights that can’t go through digital printers.
3. Offset is more expensive than digital printing but less expensive than letterpress. It’s perfect if you want great quality and a wide range of color but don’t want to pay the money for letterpress.