Printing Tech Terminology Explained

Printing Machine

The world of printing is a fascinating place when you look a little deeper than the surface. At Asset Print, we understand that the terminology we bandy about on a daily basis is not a part of everyone’s lexicon. This is why we’ve decided to compile a concise glossary that explains a few of the terms we use around the printing shop. Here you go!


Digital Printing

Digital printing is one of the most popular printing techniques used today, mainly due to the fact that developments in computer technology have made it extremely cost-effective. It works by transferring content from a digital device directly to a printing surface, which means that printing plates don’t need to be replaced nearly as often as it has to be with more traditional methods, e.g. lithography.

Inkjet Printing

If you have a printer at home, chances are pretty high that it’s an inkjet printer. This type of machine recreates digital content by propelling tiny droplets of ink on a surface (normally paper). These devices are normally quite affordable. There are also slightly more expensive models available that can print on plastic, canvas, etc.


Many ‘older’ folks still refer to a copy machine as a Xerox machine. This brand name was originally derived from the term ‘xerography’ which is a printing technique that creates copies by using the impulses of electrostatic charges. This once revolutionary technique was discovered and patented by Chester Carlson in the mid-1900s. These machines work by attracting toner particles to a metal cylinder (known as the drum) that has been electrically charged.


This high-speed printing technique transfers content from an engraved cylinder onto a printed surface by means of rotation. It is mainly used in high-volume printing jobs like newspapers (e.g. Die Burger, Beeld, Cape Argus, etc.) where you need to print thousands of something. It is also referred to as ‘gravure’ for short and is an example of an intaglio printing process.

There you have it – a few commonly used printing tech terms explained. Keep an eye on the blog in the coming weeks and months for more interesting info on printing history, marketing trends and more. In the meantime, we invite you to get in touch with an Asset Print representative to learn more about our processes and services.

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