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Offset Printing

Offset printing is the most commonly used printing method today. Over 40% of all print jobs are carried out using offset printing.

Offset printing works in a simple manner. It uses three cylinders to transfer the image onto the substrate. The first cylinder is mounted with the printing plate. The image on the printing plate is ‘right’ reading or written with the right side up. The first cylinder is inked and the image transferred or offset onto the second cylinder, which is mounted with a rubber blanket. The image on the second cylinder is thus reversed or becomes ‘wrong’ reading. Finally the image is transferred from the blanket cylinder onto the third cylinder or the substrate. The substrate is mounted on the third cylinder also known as the impression cylinder. The image once again is reversed and becomes ‘right’ reading or right side up in the final printed version.

A unique characteristic of offset printing is that the image and non-image areas are on the same surface level. The printing method uses the chemical fact that oil and water do not mix to print from a single surface level. In fact, offset printing acquired this method from lithography and thus it is often referred to as litho offset printing as well.

Types Of Offset Presses

Offset presses are primarily of two types:

  1. Sheet-fed Offset Printing Press: In this kind of offset press the printing is carried out on single sheets of paper as they are fed to the press one at a time.
  2. Web-fed Offset Printing Press: In this kind of offset press the printing is carried out on a single, continuous sheet of paper fed from a large roll. The sheet is then cut into individual sheets of desired sizes.

There are many more differences between the various types of offset presses.

The Offset Printing Process

The offset printing process requires a fairly large investment in equipment and set up. However, once the infrastructure is in place, offset printing itself is relatively inexpensive. There are many things to know about the offset printing process from creating the artwork to operating the press and binding.

Applications Of Offset Printing

Offset printing invades every aspect of our lives from influencing education through the printing of books, periodicals and other reading material to the packaging industry by creative printing of packages for consumer goods. The many applications of offset printing would be difficult to put down but suffice to say that the world would be a much less fun place to live in without offset printing.

Thus, offset printing is the printing technique that has made newspapers possible, books affordable and marketing and promotion the weapons of the common man.

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