The digital era is upon us and we are indeed enjoying it, but there is one other option in the world of printing that emphasizes on quality to a greater extent. Offset printing has been around for ages, but with the increasing focus on speed and easy delivery, people often look the other way.
Offset Printing (Lithography) – A Peek into the Past
Offset printing is a modern name given to the process of “lithography” (invented in 1796 by Alois Senefelder), which historically meant, “an image made from stone”. In the traditional age, beautiful carvings were done on stone and finished off to present a marvellous piece that can be used for printing with ink. Offset printing has come a long way in producing quality work. It was 1875 when Robert Barclay constructed the first lithographic printing press in England. This printer combined the qualities of the mid-19th century’s transfer printing and rotary printing press.
Offset printing was first introduced as an inexpensive printing method. However, the process was only limited to the use of porous and flat surfaces because the plates used were made from limestone. Earlier, a treated cardboard was used to transfer the image from the stone to the metal surface, but rubber replaced this cardboard and has since been used universally till today. With changing times, metals were replaced by rubber rollers for a much clearer and sharper paper printout, which was discovered by Ira Washington Rubel in 1901 after he forgot to load a sheet before starting the printing process.
Offset Printing in the Modern Times
Even until today, offset printing is one of the most common methods of creating printed supplies. Traditionally, the market was accustomed to mass printed products that were not tailored to individual needs. Even though the times today demand custom printed products, offset printing is still widely used commercially to reduce overall costs and obtain quality printouts.
The Change in Process for High Quality and Durable Printouts
As mentioned earlier, the printing process used metal sheets before. However, with changing technology, cheaper and more result-oriented materials in the process have made offset printing a preferred printing option. The printing process usually uses pre-press production, an important part of the whole process that involves preparation for a streamlined output. It includes converting to colour schemes to the effective CMYK colour model, confirming the files and creating the plates for each colour to run on the job. The ink used in offset printers is of an oily nature, and offset printing uses image areas that are both, lipophilic (accept ink, repel water) and hydrophilic (repel oil and accept water).
Therefore, offset printing prints uniquely, by not transferring the image from the lithographic plate to paper, but the inked image from the printing area to the rubber blanket, and finally to the printing surface. This process effectively prints sharp and clear products on paper, plastic, cardboard and several other materials that have a flat surface.
Offset printing is widely used for a variety of needs that include pamphlets, flyers, postcards, magazines, brochures, greeting cards, etc.