Sunday, July 14, 2013

How Does Offset Printing Differ From Desktop Printing?

The three primary differences in offset printing and desktop printing (such as inkjet and laser) are the colors of ink and the way the ink is placed on the paper as well as the type of machinery used to accomplish the task.

Ink Colors  - Both commercial offset printing (also known as offset lithography) and inkjet desktop printing utilize four basic ink colors: CMYK. Dots of cyan (blue), magenta (red), yellow, and black (the K) are placed next to each other in specific patterns that trick the eye into seeing millions of colors. Additionally, offset printing can use premixed inks in a variety of specific colors as well as metallic and florescent inks. These are called spot colors. However, printing white ink is not usually a viable option for offset or desktop printing.

Printing Process - Inkjet printing puts all the different ink colors on the paper in one pass through the printer. In commercial offset printing each color of ink is applied separately. Because the paper must pass through the printing press multiple times, there are special requirements for preparing digital files for color printing.

Printer vs. Press - Desktop printing usually uses some type of inkjet or laser printer. The inkjet printer has ink cartridges that places the ink directly on the paper. These are self-contained units connected to a computer through cables. Offset lithography uses a web or sheet press that may consist of multiple units. Photographic printing plates are made of the file to be printed. The plates accept the ink which is then transferred to the paper.

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