Offset printing is still the most commonly used method of printing and is often called offset lithography. Offset printing is created using plates generated for each color used in the printing process. Some projects may call for 2 colors, some may use a standard 4 color CMYK process and others can require even more than that with specialty spot colors, varnishes and a variety of coatings also available. There are two kinds of offset printing called Sheetfed, in which individual sheets are fed into the printer, and Web, which prints from large rolls and can be used to quickly produce very large quantities of printed materials such as newspapers.
Engraving is perhaps the most expensive of all printing techniques as it is also one of the most time-consuming. It is typically used for fancy gala invitations or business cards of high-ranking officials in large corporations. The engraved image is first carved by hand or machine onto a metal plate. The engraved spaces are filled with ink and the paper pressed on top of it. The result is slightly raised, crisp images and saturated colors that are nearly impossible to reproduce with other techniques.
Silkscreen printing, or screen printing for short offers a wide range of brightly colored inks and is often used for printing t-shirts, posters and other promotional materials. The process involves a design being laid on top of a screen (originally made of silk although a variety of materials are now used) which is coated with photo emulsion and exposed to light. The emulsion that is exposed hardens and the rest can be washed away leaving a stencil of sorts that ink can be pulled through using a squeegee. It has increased enormously in its use in recent years because of its versatility and the development of rotary screen printing machines which are capable of very high rates of production. An additional significant advantage is that heavy depths of shade can be produced by screen printing, a feature which has always been a limitation of roller printing because of the restriction to the amount of print paste which can be held in the shallow depth of the engraving on the print roller. Worldwide, some 61% of all printed textile fabric is produced by the rotary screen method and 23% by flat screen printing. There are two basic types of screen printing process, the flat screen and the rotary screen methods.
Die cut involves cutting irregular shapes in paper or paperboard using a die. A die can be used in printing for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing. Dies are normally custom pieces, but your printer will usually have some standard dies (such as for rounded corners) available if you don’t need a custom template; check with your printer to see what they have — it may help reduce the cost of printing a special piece.
Embossing and Debossing are similar processes that create a different result. Both processes involve making a metal plate and a counter. The plate is mounted on a press and the paper is stamped between the plate and counter. This force of pressure pushes the stock into the plate, creating the impression. Embossing produces a raised impression on your paper stock, while debossing creates a depressed impression.
Heat Transfer Printing
Transfer printing techniques involve the transfer of a design from one medium to another. The most common form used is heat transfer printing in which the design is printed initially on to a special paper, using conventional printing machinery. The paper is then placed in close contact with the fabric and heated, when the dyes sublime and transfer to the fabric through the vapor phase.
Digital printing is a much newer process that involves your artwork being processed by a computer, and then printed directly onto the surface of your product. Digital printing is not a heat transfer, as the ink is directly adhered to the fabric of your shirt. Each printing process has its strengths, and our artwork team will weigh these when deciding which to use for your design.