11 printing techniques you need to know

Not all printing processes are the same, just as not all print material is the same. A book needs a different kind of stock than that of a newspaper, for example. Before selecting your printing provider there are 11 printing techniques you should get to know in order to get the best results:

1. Offset lithography. The most cost-effective printing technique, where chemicals are used to create an image on a flexible plate that attracts ink while repelling water (The white spaces attract water and repel ink).The plate is wrapped around a cylinder and water rollers soak the white spaces. Ink rollers apply the ink on the image area and it is then transferred to a rubber blanket before finally being pressed on the paper. Offset printing is most used in newspapers, magazines, brochures and CD booklets.

Offset printing(Image: Folders.com).

2. Digital printing. A perfect choice for small four-color print runs of no more than 5000 units. Its turnaround is of less than 2 days. Digital printing does not use ink but toner, which instead of being absorbed by the paper forms a layer on it and no plates are necessary since the image can be printed directly from a computer.

Digital printing(Image: EmbroiderySolutions.net).

3. Gravure printing. The gravure cylinder is covered with flooded (or low viscosity) ink and the substrate is pressed onto is surface. Gravure printing is used on long-run prints such as newspapers, magazines, direct mail catalogs and packaging.

Gravure printing(Image: David Sillitoe for The Guardian).

4. Electrostatic printing. This process is similar to photocopying. It does not use ink or plates; instead, a zinc oxide coating is applied on the paper that reacts by forming an image with powder on the surface.

5. Screen printing. A screen plate of a fine mesh such as nylon is used to print on t-shirts, ring binders, bumper stickers and billboards. A stencil is used to block ink on non-image areas with each layer of color (cyan, magenta, yellow and black).

Screen printing(Image: Merchyou.com).

6. Reprographics. Common in-house copying and quick-printing process.

7. Embossing/Debossing. These processes respectively create a raised or depressed impression on the paper by stamping it between a metal plate and a counter.

Embossing(Image: Adoniram Sides).

8. Flexography. It uses flexible rubber plates where the non-image areas are etched away so the ink is applied on the substrate. The ink used is water based and allows for a faster drying process and shorter production times. Flexography is used to print on cardboard boxes, grocery bags and gift wrap, as well as bottle and can labels.

9. Engraving. This process will result in a raised image and saturated colors on the substrate. The print image is carved onto a metal plate and then the spaces are filled with ink so that the paper can be pressed on top of it. Arguably the most expensive and time consuming printing techniques, it is used for gala invitations and business cards for high executives.

Engraving(Image: ArzberStationers.com)

10. Thermography. A less expensive process than engraving with a similar result. A special powder is adhered to wet ink and then heated to blend. It is used for stationery products.

11. Letterpress (relief) printing. Johannes Gutenberg used this process when he developed the first press. It works just like a rubber stamp, where images and text are raised from a surface, inked and then pressed against the paper or printing substrate. Once the standard printing technique, it is now used mostly in specialty shops for fine art prints, books, wedding invitations and posters.


Sources: All Graphic Design | Bhaves Advertisers | Design History | Design Instruct | Digital Marketing Services | Offset Printing | Printing Paradise | Top 7 Business

8 things you should check before sending a file to the printer

Print proof

Ordering a high-volume printing job means producing thousands of units from a single document, so a single mistake can turn into the thousands as well. This is why you should check these 8 things before sending a file to the printer.

  1. Convert images to CMYK. Here’s the difference between RGB and CMYK color profiles. If you are working with digital photos or using RGB color in your design, make sure that you convert your images to CMYK. Otherwise your colors will look very different on print.
  2. Include an adequate bleed. The bleed is artwork space that extends outside the document borders. Since guillotines are not 100% accurate, you must add a 1/8″ of space to make sure your content doesn’t get trimmed.
  3. Set a safe area by adding quiet borders. No logos or text should be located beyond the quiet borders. These borders should be at least 1/4″ from the edge of the document. The quiet border minimun-widths are: 5mm for business cards; 8mm for CD sleeves; 12mm for flyers; 25mm for posters. Larger prints require wider quiet borders.
  4. Check for spelling mistakes. You don’t need to be a printing expert to avoid this costly mistake. After you have run the spell checker on your computer, re-read the whole copy text and/or have someone proof-read it for you. Remember that a typo can result in a correctly spelled but erroneously placed word.
  5. Convert to outlines or embed fonts. Convert all the text to outlines or curves in Adobe Illustrator or InDesign before exporting to PDF to avoid unexpected changes in the font style. If the font type you used is not installed on your printer’s computer, your material will print with a different typeface and you won’t notice until it’s too late. You can also embed the font when exporting to PDF or ultimately send the font to your printer.
  6. Use a high image resolution. 300 dpi (dots per inch) is the minimum resolution needed for print jobs. Lower resolutions such as 72 dpi will simply look terrible on print. Also, enlarging a low resolution image will not solve the problem.
  7. Print a sample for proofing. Print a rough version of the material so you can have it on your hands and check the spelling, margins and image quality. You can also make annotations for further revisions.
  8. Use the right file formats. .tiff .pdf and high-quality .jpeg files are recommended. DO NOT send .gif or .png images to print, since they were developed to handle 72 ppi (points per inch). Ask your printer first to be sure you are sending the right file type.


Sources: Andrew Kelsall Design | BCW | BonFX | Smashing Magazine

3 work lessons we can learn from The Beatles

The Beatles

It would be impossible to keep track of the number of musicians who list The Beatles as their inspiration. It is also hard not to like at least one of their melodies, from Love Me Do  to The End there’s something for every kind of taste. But what can we as members of an organization learn from the Fab Four?

  1. Get by with a little help from your friends. John Lennon and Paul McCartney are arguably the most famous songwriting team of our times. They would finish each other’s songs, improve verses, fill in blanks and hit hard-to-reach notes (such is the case in A Hard Day’s Night, written by Lennon with the bridge sung by McCartney because John couldn’t). At work you must encourage an environment of collaboration where everyone’s output is considered. If you are stuck on a project or testing a new idea, run it by your colleagues. After all it was Ringo Starr, who rarely got to write, who originated the title of that song, an album and a movie.
  2. Act naturally. Even after recording hit after hit and becoming world famous, the Liverpool Quartet never lost their down-to-earthness and that’s what the press loved about them. They always joked and had fun onstage and offstage. At the office and outside you got to love what you do and do what you love. Don’t try to impress your supervisors with a phony or obnoxious attitude even if you are the best at what you do. Never look down upon anyone in a lower job position. Remember you’re all part of the same team!
  3. Take a sad song and make it better. Yoko Ono came in and broke up The Beatles or so the story goes. John left in 1969 and then Paul made the announcement later on. The truth is all four members were ready to carry on separately with their own music and being a Beatle was just not fullfilling anymore. So it was essentially a good thing that the band broke up before releasing an album nobody would have really wanted to do and in time for us to enjoy the successful solo careers of John, Paul, George and (again, even) Ringo. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion, your project was shut down or your idea got shelved. Accept apparent defeat as part of the learning process and keep your head out looking for new opportunities. Don’t be discouraged; after all, The Beatles were at first rejected by Decca being told that “The Beatles have no future in show business”.

The Beatles playing golf

4. Play golf.

So whether you have the wit of John, the charm of Paul, the insight of George, Ringo’s sense of humor, or the outsourced talent of Billy Preston, your role is vital for your band’s company’s success.