Offset Printing

 

Offset printing is perfect for your longer run print runs such as flyers, brochures, catalogues & magazines.

 

It is a traditional process of printing and produces the best looking results but also involves the most work in setting up a job and therefore has higher “make-ready” costs.

 

Make ready involves creating individual plates per separate colour for each side of the sheet. Each plate is then loaded into its colour station on the press. Once this is done, the correct water/ink balance has to be determined at each station as well as the registration (positioning) of each colour on the page. In short, it is a fine tuning process to ensure that each impression of each colour looks good and is positioned so that all four images are on top of each other. This process can take anywhere from five to thirty minutes to make a press ready to start printing. The cost of the plates and the time to set them up is what is called the “make-ready costs”. This is the reason that you pay hundreds of dollars when “you only wanted 100 flyers”.

 

As the ink in offset printing is mixed with water and applied to paper in a wet state, it takes time to dry. Some stocks might take two days to dry properly before you can cut them in a guillotine otherwise the ink on one side of the sheet might “set off” onto the back of another sheet.

Offset printing is also used for printing Pantone Matching System (PMS) colours. These are specific colours with a unique code number such as PMS 186 which can be found in a Pantone Swatch book. These swatch books enable printers to replicate these colours accurately every time, no matter what country they are in. This is handy for companies who want to ensure that their branding colours remain consistent.

 

Whilst the set up costs are higher in offset printing, the running costs are reasonably low. This means that the digital printing process may be preferable for printing a job when it is under a particular quantity but if the quantity were to increase, then it might be cheaper to use the offset printing process. The threshold that determines when the process should change is different for each job. It is largely dependent on the size, quantity and complexity of the project.