Types of Printing Processes

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The printing industry, as of 2021, in the US alone is worth over $78billion and employs an average of 350,000 individuals — and what’s even more shocking is that due to the different printing processes and how certain titans specialize in each, there are no significant players with market shares more outstanding than 5%. It’s a vast industry, and there is a reason for that.


Companies are now, due to troubling statistics, doing their best to research current printing methods and trying to leverage their technology to better their spending metrics. The difference between one method and another might mean your company can save millions of dollars a year.


  • The average employee’s printing habits cost a company around $725 per year per worker.

  • Employees print about 34 pages a day, and 65% of those get thrown away or recycled in less than 24hours.

  • 90% of companies do not track their printing expenditure — unable to identify the hidden drain that’s hurting their profit margins.

  • IT departments spend more than 15% of their time on print-related issues — and 23% of all help-desk calls are print-related.


Finally, an explicit supplier agreement, plus choosing the correct printing method, can end up cutting your operating costs by up to 30%. Knowing what process best suits you gives you an advantage, it staves up troubleshooting issues, prevents over expenditure on maintenance and supplies, and waives off unplanned downtime when it comes to printing.


Right now, there are a couple of standard methods/processes that are the norm in the marketplace. Let’s see what methods best suit you.


Offset printing

Offset printing machine

Offset printing is a method of printing from a metal plate onto paper or other material. Offset printing is the most common printing technique for large-scale operation and is typically used for commercial print jobs. It can be used to print onto paper, cards, foil, cloth, or other materials.

The modern process feeds a large paper reel through a gigantic press machine with various parts. This is the most common type of printing process, and it was developed by Robert Barclay in England in 1875.

Due to how it operates, in the late 1950s, it became the most popular form of commercial printing. Today, it is the most used printing tech in the U.S.

Flexography

Flexographic Printing

Flexography is a printing technique that uses a printing plate with raised letterforms to transfer ink to paper. It is one of the most common types of printing, used for everything from newspapers to books.

Flexography can be used for both text and images. The process begins with an artist drawing the design on a metal plate or stone using a greasy ink called "type-metal" or "type-stone." The inked surface is then covered with a thin layer of wax, which protects the design from damage during handling and makes it easy to print multiple copies without damaging the typeface. When all of the types have been added, excess wax is scraped off and then melted away by heating it until it becomes liquid again, leaving only the letters standing proud.

Rotogravure

Rotogravure printing process

Rotogravure printing is when images are engraved onto a cylinder; then the cylinder is rolled on ink-coated paper. It was invented by German printer Karl Drais in 1837.

Rotogravure printing has many advantages over other printing processes. It has high image quality, it can print on various surfaces, and it can produce large volumes of prints at high speed. It is used mainly for high-end magazines, books, posters, and packaging since it gives them a polished and durable print.

Digital Printing

Digital printing machine

Digital Printing is one of the many methods for printing graphics and text on paper or other material. In the case of digital printing, the digital data is sent to a specialized printer that prints it. It is a ubiquitous form of printing and the one that is most common in the household. A digital printer can be bought at fairly affordable prices and almost anywhere on the planet. All you need is a computer, or a cellphone, to operate one.

Printing with one of them can be done by sending an electronic file to a printer or physically scanning items and then sending the image to the printer's onboard chip.

Digital printing was invented in 1989 by Gary Starkweather from Xerox Corporation. It was first demonstrated at the Seybold trade show in New York.

Screen printing

Screen printing machine

Screen printing is a process of printing on a surface where the ink is forced through a mesh screen. The process was invented in the 1880s and was used to print on textiles, paper, and other types of surfaces.

Screen printing is one of the oldest methods of producing images, text, and patterns. It can be used with any color or pattern. The colors are vivid, bright, and long-lasting. One of the most significant advantages of this method is that it can also be used to print on many different materials, including textile, cardboard, plastic, metal, or glass.

The process involves creating a stencil from an image or artwork that will be printed onto the desired. Ink or dye is then applied to the stencil, which creates a layer that will be transferred to the material when it is pressed against it.

Screen printing is also known as silkscreen printing, serigraphy, or serigraph printing. It is one of the oldest recognizable forms of printing and has been in use, one way or another, since the Chinese Song Dynasty (960 to 1279 AD). It was introduced in the early 18th century to Western Europe through Asia.



Printing — what’s next?

Over the last few years, printing has blossomed and it has genuinely scaled up its potential. Innovators are introducing new practices, more environmentally friendly materials, and revolutionizing the printing industry. Companies are actively creating cutting-edge technologies, amongst them invisible photonics printing, that will provide better services, methods and solve their clients’ problems. At present, there are many different types of printing processes, this is mainly because each has different uses and functions. Each has its benefits and disadvantages. As we go into tomorrow, despite what naysayers proclaim, the numbers tell us that “printing is not dead.”

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