What Are The Different Types of Printing?

Screen printing

Screen Printing in Progress

There are many types of printing but it is often difficult to identify what each of them entails. Each printing type is suited to a different need which means businesses can choose a printing technique that is best for their products or services.

Did you know that printing has been around since before 220 AD? According to records, the oldest printing technique is known as woodcut which involves carving an image onto a wooden surface. While impressive for its time, printing has evolved significantly with a wide range of technologically advanced methods now available. So what are the different types of printing and how do they vary from one other?

Professional Printing Processes

With over 13 years of experience, Asset Print has worked with every facet in the printing industry. From flyers, booklets, pamphlets, banners, vehicle branding, and sign printing, we’ve done it all. In terms of professional printing, we take a closer look at the three main types – Offset Litho Printing, Digital Printing and Screen Printing.

Offset Litho Printing

Also referred to as Offset Lithography, this type of printing is ideal for rough surfaces such as wood, canvas, and cloth. With advancements in technology, Offset Litho printing has become even more versatile and can also be used for books, paper, and stationery among others. Offset Litho is one of the most popular types of printing and very popular for mass-production as the setup can be costly for smaller jobs.

It involves printing plates which are usually made from aluminum where each plate holds an image of the content that must be printed. The process is called offset because the ink is transferred from plates to a blanket rather than directly on paper. Print media never comes into contact with the metal plates which significantly extends the life of the plates. Offset Lithography is suited for both sheet-fed and web offset presses.

Digital Printing

Many people are familiar with digital printing as it covers a wide variety of printing techniques such as inkjet printing and laser printing. With inkjet printers, the required image is created when small droplets of ink are propelled from the nozzles of one or more print heads. Inkjet devices can print on a wide range of substrates including paper, plastic, canvas or even doors and floor tiles.

Unlike litho, digital printing involves sending images directly to the printer using digital files such as PDFs. This eliminates the need for printing plates which can save time and money, except when you’re printing larger quantities. Digital printing is the preferred choice when you need customised or personalised marketing. It is often used for posters, signage, newsletters, menus, and labels among others.

In the past, digital presses couldn’t compete with the quality of full-colour printing but technological advances have resulted in digital print that is impossible to tell apart from litho. As there is no setup cost or a minimum quantity, digital printing is perfect for smaller amounts.

Screen Printing

Screen printing has been around since the early 20th century and is often used for printing fabrics, wood, glass, and signage. It involves creating a stencil or screen which is used to apply layers of ink onto the printed object. The image is transferred onto a fine mesh where areas that should be blank are covered with a substrate.

Screen printing pushes the ink through the openings in the mesh onto the end material. The screen is re-usable once cleaned and if more than one colour is printed on the same surface, the ink is first allowed to dry. From there, the process is repeated with another screen and a different coloured ink.

The main advantage is that the surface of the end material does not have to be flat while the ink adheres to many different materials. While most may associate screen printing with garments, the technique is actually used on several different items. Some of the more interesting applications include birthday cake designs, decals, clock and watch faces among many others.

With all the different styles and types of printing available, Asset Print can help you decide which one is best for you. Our team of experts can guide you through the entire process from concept to finished product. Get in touch with Asset Print today for all your printing needs.


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