Commercial Printing 101
It’s likely that you’ve done your own printing before. You used your own computer and desktop printer to transform digital projects into physical documents. However, commercial printers offer many advantages that you cannot ignore. They allow you to focus on what you need to do. Also, they can give you high-quality output at low costs. This article will teach you the basics of commercial printing.
The Important Terms
• Bleed: This is an area outside a page that will be removed by your printing company. Bleeds help you prevent unwanted white lines on the edges of a page. Make sure that your project has bleeds if it has an image or graphic that touches the paper’s edge.
• Image Resolution: This term refers to the quality of an image or graphic. The higher the resolution, the higher the quality. In most cases, the resolution of a project is measured using DPI (i.e. dots per inch).
• Color Models: There are many color models available today. However, two of the most popular are “RGB” (i.e. Red, Green, and Blue) and “CMYK” (i.e. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black”). Use the former if your project is for on-screen reading only (i.e. e-book). If you will print it out, you should use CMYK.
Different Printing Methods
Printing methods differ in terms of their output and processes. Here are the popular printing methods today:
• Engraving – In this method, the ink will fill the printing plate’s cavities. It is commonly used in printing business cards and fine stationeries.
• Offset Lithography – This method, which relies on rollers, gives high quality output. You can produce various types of documents using offset lithography.
• Gravure – Gravure is similar to offset lithography: it uses rollers to create output. The only difference is that gravure can reproduce great images. It creates rough line edges and thick layers of ink. You can use this method for printing catalogs, stamps, magazines, and wallpapers.
• Letterpress Printing – This is one of the oldest printing methods. It uses slow drying ink.
• Electrophotography – This method relies on thick ink. You may use electrophotography for labels, packaging, and newspapers.
• Inkjet Printing – Inkjet printing requires a special type of paper to minimize bleeds. It is the ideal method if you are printing books or newspapers.
The Printing Process
Here is the general process that printing companies use for offset lithography:
1. Getting or creating the artwork – Obviously, the printing company needs to obtain the material before they can print it.
2. Preparation – The printing company will convert your files into films (also known as “plates”). The images from the films will be transferred onto a printing plate.
3. Printing – This step consists of the following substeps:
i. Feeding the paper into the printing press
ii. Distributing the ink across the plates
iii. Transferring the image to a printing plate
iv. Coloring the plates
4. Binding – The printed pages will be trimmed, folded, and bound.
Commercial printing helps you streamline your creative process. You won’t have to worry about printing documents or projects yourself. You just have to send your digital files to a printing company. Professional printers will work on the files for you. Thus, you can get better output and overall productivity. And this article taught you all the aspects of commercial printing 101.