What is offset printing?

2nd August 2023

Offset printing, also known as offset lithography, litho or lithographic printing, is a high quality printing process typically used for large volume print runs.

Offset printing works by applying ink to a pre-prepared aluminum plate, then transferring the ink to paper stock using print machines to create the desired impression. It is this indirect method of transferring ink to paper that gives offset printing its name.

Images are typically produced through a four colour process. Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (or Key), known collectively as CMYK, are combined separately until the full colour image is produced.

Where required, additional printing plates can also be added, allowing for the addition of customised inks such as metallic, UV and Pantone colours.

Despite the continued development of digital print, offset printing is still regarded as the highest quality printing process available.

Offset Printing – the benefits

– High-quality print – producing clear/sharp images
– Cost-effective at higher quantities
– Bigger sheet size offers imposition flexibility
– Consistent coverage on large areas of solid colour
– Spot (Pantone) colours available where consistency is key
– Flexible paper stock options (texture, finish and weight)
– Smooth tint and gradient printing
– Can be personalised with black and white laser overprinting

Offset Printing – the drawbacks

– Not cost-effective on smaller print runs
– Slower turnaround due to setup and drying times
– Harder to get final proofs – requires setup & plate production

Get in touch with our team and they’ll advise definitively whether offset printing will best suit the exact requirements of your job – providing the highest quality print at the lowest possible price.