What Are The Different Printing Techniques?

Posted by kimsmith on July 23rd, 2018

Printing is an inseparable part of our life. It is everywhere. From our daily newspapers to books, billboards, food wrappers, packaging, utensils and apparel, printing is all around us. Here is a guide to popular online printing techniques:

Conventional Printing Technologies
These use image carriers or printing plates for transferring ink to printing substrates such as metal, plastic, paper, etc. These are broken into three major characteristics:

1. Surface Relief

Letterpress
The technique involves raising printing elements of the printing plate above non-printing elements. These elements, coated with a layer of ink, is transferred to the substrate. All non- printing elements are settled and ink free.

Letterpress is widely used with letterset, book printing, and flexographic printing. It is useful for printed products such as carriers, business cards, bags, and labels.

Book Printing
This is the oldest letterpress printing technology and uses printing plate crafted from synthetic materials or lead alloys. The technique is widely applicable for reproduction of text and images.

Flexographic Printing
This is direct relief printing and uses flexible printing plates. It is suitable on absorbent and non – absorbent substrates in label, packaging, and newspaper.

Letterset Printing
This indirect online printing involves transfer of the image of plate to paper through an intermediate carrier (cylinder). Dry offset printing is the first choice for cardboard packaging.

Gravure Printing
Here, the printing elements are recessed. Thereafter, the design is cut and etched into the printing plate. Ink is filled into recesses and non-printing parts of the plate are wiped free of ink. Gravure printing is applicable for high-volume printing.

2. Differences in Wetting (surface tensions)
Here, both non-printing and printing areas kept on the same level. This is also known as planographic printing. Both lithography and offset lithography are planographic processes and use the philosophy that water will not mix with oil.

Lithography
Alois Senefelder invented this technique in 1796. Image to be printed, was drawn on stone using a special ink. Stone lithography is perfect for artistic printed products,

Offset Printing
Offset Printing is the major lithographic technology, which falls under the category of indirect printing meaning ink is firs transferred from the printing plate onto a flexible intermediate carrier or blanket and then onto the substrate. It is called offset because the image does not go directly to the paper from the plates.

Two types of systems are used to create an ink repellent effect on the printing plate:

Conventional Offset Printing
The printing plate water is dampened using a dampening solution prior to ink application. The non-image areas are water receptive while image areas ink receptive.

Waterless Offset Printing
Under this technique, the printing plate is not wet with a dampening solution. A layer of silicon on non-image areas of the plate makes the surface ink repellent. Silicone layer interrupts to display areas receptive to ink.

Offset printing separates image into basic colors. A separate plate is prepared for each color used. Each roller possesses its own specified ink. Ink is transferred while these goes through the plate and builds layers of colors to give a full color page. This printing technique is suitable for larger print jobs.

3. Openings in the Printing Master
Ink is forced into printing elements using printing master (such as a screen). Non-image areas are made resistant to ink using a blocking stencil. Usually, the screen is crafted from fine fabric such as metal fibers, silk, plastic or metal, threads etc. Thereafter, it is stretched over a wooden or aluminum frame. Ink is place on the upper part of substrate (paper, fabric). A squeegee (rubber blade) pushes the ink evenly into the openings of screen and onto the substrate.

Once the ink deeply penetrates the open spaces in the screen on substrate, the frame is lifted away.

Conclusion
If you are a graphic designer or into online printing business, you would definitely deal with clients having printing requirements. A detailed knowledge about printing process, the prices, and limitations can let you come up with some amazing designs and guide your client to supply them with the best possible solutions for their needs.

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