Offset Printing

  • Definition: Stamp-based printing method in which ink is transferred from a plate to a smooth rubber blanket roller that transfers the image to paper or paperboard.
  • Characteristics: One of the most common styles of printing, image does not go directly to paper from plates like other printing processes.
  • Cons: Uses CMYK coloring system (plates can only use these four colors), printing plates are vulnerable to chemical oxidation.
  • Benefits: Higher quality and more color consistency than digital, cost effective for large volume printing, economical, allows for different printing materials, can print on both sides.


  • Definition: Use of digital data on pre-created systems instead of plates to print.
  • Characteristics: Can design prints online.
  • Cons: Not as affordable or speedy for large quantities, not as durable.
  • Benefits: Cheaper for low volume printing, low set up costs, faster turnaround than offset, sharper pictures than flexography, do not need to pay extra for different colors.


  • Definition: Use of flexible plates for a rotary printing process.
  • Characteristics: Used for non-porous materials like food service paper, plastic, foil, brown paper, and packaging materials.
  • Cons: Large initial set up time and cost.
  • Benefits: Uses low viscosity inks allowing faster drying time and reduced costs, very speedy, automatizes additional tasks, adapts well to different materials, wide range of ink use (can use water based as well as oil).
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