Printing – What Kind Do I Need?

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Have you ever asked the question, “What kind of printing do I need?” If so, then read on. There are so many different types of printers and methods of printing it can be difficult to know which is best suited to your particular job. An experienced and reliable printer will recommend the right printer for your project but just so you know what they are talking about below is a brief overview to help you on your way.

Large Format Printing – A large format printer specializes in printing really big banners, signs, posters or trade show panels (to name a few). Typically, these large items are printed using a roll of media and can be up to 200′ long by up to 60″ wide. Alternatively, rigid substrates can be laid on top of a flat bed printer such as glass, wood or cardboard and are printed direct to substrate.

Flat Bed Printing – fills the gap between offset printing and silk screening by providing a way to print directly onto rigid, flat or unevenly surfaced objects. The ability to print with white ink opens up a range of possibilities whether printing a spot color or laying down a base to print on. The full color image is applied all at once to the surface and once it exits the machine it is ready to be cut and packaged for shipping.

Great for point of purchase, store advertising, indoor & outdoor signage, trade show display panels, signs & special events graphics. Flat bed printing is excellent for long-run work and with jobs requiring variable data.

Digital Printing eliminates the use of film and plates. It sends a digital file directly from a computer to the press. Digital printing is relatively fast making it a convenient method during a time crunch and great for short printing runs.

Solvent Inks – UV Curable inks are great for printing on outdoor banners and signage.

Pigmented Inks – water based inks used for indoor printing applications such as trade show panels, banners, signage, canvas, paper & posters.

Ink Jet Printing – Method of printing by spraying droplets of ink through computer-controlled nozzles. This can also be called jet printing.

Dye Sublimation is a printing process that uses heat to transfer dye onto a medium such as fabric. The Ink is bonded to the substrate giving the appearance of a continuous tone photograph and resulting in vivid, bold colours.

Silk Screening – A printing method in which the image is transferred to a substrate by means of squeezing ink with a squeegee through a stenciled fabric or metal wire screen stretched over a frame. This can either be a manual or mechanical operation and allows for the application of ink on almost any material. It is excellent for short-run line work on clothing, mugs, billboards & signage.

Off Set Printing is the most common form of high-volume commercial printing. It uses a technique that transfers ink from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from plate to paper and is the method of choice for printing newspapers.

Dot Matrix printers use a series of small pins to strike a ribbon coated with ink, causing the ink to transfer to the paper at the point of impact.

Inkjet printers use a series of nozzles to spray drops of ink directly on the paper.

Laser printers use dry ink (toner), static electricity, and heat to place and bond the ink onto the paper.

Substrate – Any surface or material on which printing is done.

Thermography is a process that produces a raised image. A special powder adheres to wet ink and when heat is applied the two fuse together to form a raised surface. This printing method is often used for stationery, business cards, letterhead, wedding invitations, etc.

Flexography is a printing process used for packaging products. Flexible rubber plates are utilized for printing on surfaces such as plastic bags and cardboard boxes.

Gravure printing is a high quality process using copper plates. This process is commonly used to print high quality, large volume materials such as magazines and catalogs.

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