Major Types of Printing. Printing is a process that involves impressing designs, letters, and figures on a substrate such as paper, cardboard, fabric, vinyl, wood, etc. Humans have been practising it for centuries. However, modern printing started in the fifteenth century when Johannes Gutenberg invented the first printing press.
Since then, printing has evolved a lot, and today it has several types. Each type of printing uses a different technique, and each type is used for a different purpose. In this article, we have talked about six major types of printing in detail. Let’s go through each section below to understand major types of printing.
Major types of printing
This form of printing got its name from the flexible relief plate that is used during printing. Flexography, abbreviated as flexo, is essentially a modern form of letterpress printing. People use it to print almost any kind of substrates like papers, cardboards, plastics, and metallic films. Surfaces with continuous patterns like wallpapers and gift papers are printed via flexography.
In flexography, the printing plates are wrapped around cylindrical structures that rotate. The image to be printed is transferred onto these plates. The inked images are slightly raised from the surface of the plate. Plates rotate at high speed to transfer the image or design onto the substrate wrapped around an impression cylinder. It applies pressure to the printing plate to help it transfer the ink onto the substrate. As printing plates rotate at high speed, flexography is very suitable for high volume jobs.
Offset printing, also known as offset lithography, is one of the most popular and common forms of printing. The prints we see on books, newspapers, magazines, and broachers are actually made by offset printing. In offset printing, printing plates, which are mostly made up of aluminium, are used. These plates do not come in direct contact with the substrate that needs to be printed. It provides them protection and increases their lifespan.
During printing, the image to be printed is transferred onto the printing plate. That image is then transferred from the plate onto the rubber blankets or rollers. These rollers are inked and transferred onto the substrate surface.
Offset printing is a versatile form of printing. You can use it to print a rough surface of a canvas or a smooth surface of the paper. This technique produces high-quality prints, and it is very suitable for printing in large quantities.
Large format printing
Large format printing is more preferred in the marketing world. As the name indicates, it is a kind of printing in which a large format (width more than 18 inches) is printed on rolls of the substrate. Billboards, banners, and advertisements of busses or taxes that we see every day are some of the popular examples of large format printing.
In large format printing, rather than printing onto single sheets, rolls of large sheets are used in it to transfer designs onto them. Other printing types do not produce as large prints as this form of printing does. Large format printing machines are very large and complicated compared to residential and office printing machines. They can be digital and non-digital.
Most businesses use large-format media to promote their business and products. They hang or paste the flat media on walls and different surfaces. Large format printing uses different forms of substrates such as paper, vinyl, wood, metal, etc. Each substrate has its own purpose and benefits.
Digital printing is a modern type of printing. It involves the use of digital files for transferring the image to be printed. Unlike other forms of printing, there is no need to use a printing plate. You can transfer images to the printer through files life PDF.
There are different techniques used in digital printing. Two of the most common techniques are inkjet printing and laser printing. In inkjet printing, ink is directly propelled onto the surface of the substrate. On the other hand, in laser printing, a high-speed laser is used to transfer ink (also called toner) onto the heated surface of the substrate. The heat helps the ink fuse into place.
Digital printing has a quicker turnaround time because no time is wasted in replacing printing plates. It is also cost-effective as compared to the other types of printing. It is preferred for small jobs. Digital printing is popularly used in homes and offices to fulfil day-to-day printing needs. Posters, newsletters, personal documents, and labels are common examples of digital printing.
3D printing is a form of printing that was first started in the 1980s. In it, a three-dimensional object is constructed from a computer-aided design (CAD). A mixture of different compounds is used to construct the three-dimensional object. Under computer control, the material is fused layer by layer.
3D printing was initially not very common. But since the last two years, the technology, precision, and material range improved greatly, that the 3D printing processes are now considered feasible as an industrial-production technology. One great advantage of this advanced technology is that you can construct complicated structures that were otherwise impossible to be made by hands.
Screen printing is one of the oldest forms of printing. Asians have been using it for different purposes for more than 1,000 years. It is more popularly used in the world of fine arts. In screen printing, a mesh having tiny holes is used to transfer ink onto the surface of the substrate. A blocking stencil is used to make the mesh impermeable in certain areas.
Ink is pressed against the mesh screen through a blade. By doing so, the image is successfully printed on the substrate. It is more commonly used to print designs and logos onto banners, t-shirts, and similar clothing. In addition to fabrics, you can also print metals and papers through it.
Screen printing requires a proper setting and preparation. It is also labour intensive which makes it less cost-effective for small jobs. Images printed via screen printing are also not of high quality.