Believe it or not there are many different processes to put ink (or toner) on paper. There are two main processes that many local print shops utilize: offset and digital. Each process has pros and cons, and understanding a little about each can help you make an informed decision when choosing the best way to produce your project.
Offset printing is the traditional method of “pressing” ink onto paper. The press requires a skilled operator for operation, and is capable of producing four color work (CMYK), or spot color (PMS). The press is best for long runs or color critical projects. Because the press uses ink, items produced on the press, like envelopes and letterhead, can be put back through a laser printer and there will not be any adverse effect to the printing (like melting or running). Other benefits of offset printing include precise image registration and consistent color.
Digital printing is printing from a digital file to a digital copy machine. This method uses toner, rather than ink, to print. With well prepped files, it is a matter of “clicking” and printing. Digital printing is known for quick turnaround times and cost effective short-runs.
When you are choosing a printer to partner with, find out what methods of printing they offer. They should be willing to suggest which printing method will best fit your scheduling and budgeting requirements.
Tracey Papke is the owner of Potamus Press, a commercial print shop that specializes in offset and digital printing. For more information please visit www.potamuspress.com or call (951)693-2136