What is Offset Printing?

What is Offset Printing?

In today’s world, there are many types of different printing processes, with one of the most popular being offset printing. If you’ve never heard this term before, don’t worry, because here at iTek, our printing experts are happy to help explain how it works and when it should be used. Put simply, offset printing is a printing technique in which the linked image is transferred, or offset, from a plate to a rubber blanket, and finally to the printing surface.  

History of Offset Printing

The first rotary offset lithographic printing press was created in England in 1875 by Robert Barclay. The new technology combined transfer printing processes from the mid 1800s with the rotary printing press, which is a printing press that used a metal cylinder instead of a flat stone. At the end of the 19th century, with the rise of photography, lithographic forms fell out of style and offset printing became more popular.

From its invention up to the modern day, offset printing has undergone continuous evolution. Today, one of the most important functions in the printing process is prepress production. This stage ensures that all files are correctly processed in preparation for printing, a process which includes converting to the proper CMYK color model, finalizing the files, and creating plates for each color of the job to be run on the press. Some of the most common applications for offset printing today are magazines, newspapers, stationery, books, and brochures. Currently, 50 percent of printed materials printed in the United States continues to be produced by offset printing presses.

Advantages of Offset Printing

Compared to other popular printing methods like digital printing, offset printing has a number of advantages.

  • Cost – Offset printing is the cheapest method for producing high-quality prints in large quantities
  • High-Quality Image – Offset printing is one of the best ways to produce sharp and clear images and type. This is due to the fact that the rubber blanket conforms to the texture of the printing surface.
  • Quick and EasyPrinting plates are easy to manufacture, making offset printing a quick-turnaround printing option.

Offset Printing Process

The offset printing process is derived from the photo offset process. This process uses light-sensitive chemicals and photographic techniques to transfer images and type from original materials to printing plates. The offset printing process consists of several different stages:

  • Inking System – The goal of the first stage is for the inking system to put a layer of ink across every dimension of the printing plate.
  • Dampening System – After the ink has been placed, the dampening system places a layer of moisture over areas that don’t contain an image.
  • Plate Cylinder – The plate cylinder transfers the ink onto the blanket covering the offset cylinder.
  • Offset Cylinder – Also known as the blanket cylinder, the offset cylinder transfers the inked image to either a rubber blanket.
  • Impression Cylinder – Finally, the impression cylinder presses the paper against the offset cylinder, which transfers the ink onto the paper to form the printed image.

Contact Your Local Printing Shop

iTek is a friendly Concord, NC printing shop staffed with a number of printing industry professionals. Offset printing is one of our specialities, and we take pride in completing different types of print jobs of businesses all over North Carolina. Contact us today at 704-457-7687 today to learn more about our business.