4 Color Process Printing
Also called full color printing, 4 color printing uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black inks (CMYK)
to produce a crisp, accurate printed image. This is the standard printing process you find in
publications and marketing materials.
Special inks with fine reflective metallic particles create a shine and luster you won’t see in
standard inks. Silver and gold metallics are most common, but metallic inks also come in bright
blues, hot reds and burnished coppers. Metallic inks are a brilliant way to add pizazz to your
design or highlight a logo or headline.
Embossing uses a specially-made die under high pressure to form a raised three-dimensional
impression that allows you to literally feel the design. It is a graceful effect that brings a
touch of class to your piece. Embossing can be used on its own or in combination with 4-color
printing or foil stamping.
A heated die fuses the foil onto the paper, bonding the design to the surface. Hot foil stamping
adds shimmer and texture to highlight specific text or images. Gold, silver, and other metallic
colors can be used, as well as clear and holographic foils.
Embossing and Foil Stamping
A heated die fuses the foil onto the paper, bonding the design to the surface. The same area is
then embossed with a die to create a raised three-dimensional image.
Die cutting lets you create a limitless range of contours – from unconventional corners to perfect
circles to the outline of an image or logo. A die cut provides a tactile and visual edge to
distinguish your piece and enhance your presentation.
Pantone Spot Color Inks
The Pantone Matching System® (PMS) is the most widely known and trusted brand of spot colors
available. Pantone colors encompass a wide color gamut, allowing you to print hues that can’t be
perfectly reproduced using 4-color process inks.
Varnish comes in gloss, satin, and dull finishes. One interesting use of varnishes is to put dull
varnish on a 4 color image, giving it contrast against a gloss background. Or do the reverse to
make a 4 color image pop off the dull/ matte paper. You can also add varnish to create a subtle
rendering of images or larger text.
Different Types of Printing
What is Offset Printing?
Offset presses operate on a simple principle: ink and water don’t mix. Image information (art and
text) is put on thin metal plates which are dampened by water and ink by rollers on the press. The
oil-based ink adheres to the image area, the water adheres to the non-image area. The inked area is
then transferred to a rubber cylinder or “blanket” and then onto the paper as it passes around the
blanket. The process is called “offset” since the image doesn’t go directly from the plates to the
paper, but is offset or transferred to another surface before being applied to the paper.
Why Use Offset Printing?
The advantages of traditional commercial offset printing are higher quality and the best
cost-effectiveness for quantities over a few hundred, especially high volume quantities.
• Low price per piece. The more you print, the less you pay per piece, since most of the cost is in
the setup. With a commercial printer, any additional quantity costs only a few cents per sheet for
the paper and ink.
• Brilliant quality. Offset printing produces rich, accurate color and high-quality images and
photographs, with sharp typefaces and fine details.
When you need 250 to 500 or more postcards, posters, glossy brochures, flyers or catalogs, offset
printing is tough to beat for high-end quality at an affordable price. 4 color offset printing
enables small businesses to compete with the “big guys” by providing professional-looking marketing
Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of
It usually refers to professional printing where small-run jobs from desktop publishing and other
digital sources are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers. Digital
printing has a higher cost per page than more traditional offset printing methods, but this price
is usually offset by avoiding the cost of all the technical steps required to make printing plates.
It also allows for on-demand printing, short turnaround time, and even a modification of the image
(variable data) used for each impression. The savings in labor and the ever-increasing capability
of digital presses means that digital printing is reaching the point where it can match
or supersede offset printing technology’s ability to produce larger print runs of several thousand
sheets at a low price.
What is Digital Printing?
Offset printing is the older of the two methods and involves a plate on which the material to be
printed is engraved, which is transferred with ink onto a rubber blanket, then to the material
which it has to be printed on. Digital printing, on the other hand, skips the plate entirely and
directly prints onto the material. Offset printing is known produce higher quality than digital
printing, but comes with high initial costs and isn’t cost effective unless really large numbers
are printed. That’s where digital printing comes in, and here are its advantages:
Eco-Friendly: While it still involves ink and chemicals, there’s no pre-press procedures like
offset printing, so there’s no need for plates, chemicals and extra material. Directly printing
onto the material saves a lot!
Quick Turnaround: Again, since there’s no pre-press procedures and plates, the initial setup time
is reduced, and you can get your prints quicker than with offset printing.
No Initial Costs or Setup: Speaking of initial setup, there’s no additional cost of creating the
plates, so you’re saving on money, but only if you’re looking to print smaller numbers. For high
volume printing, offset printing is still the king because once set up, the cost per unit is much
Small Batch Printing: If you’re looking to print in the hundreds or even thousands, the setup cost
of offset printing might not seem justified. With digital printing, you can print in multiple small
batches and not worry about big setup costs.
Customization: Offset printing is essentially imprinting the plate’s content onto the printing
material, which means that the content is physically set and cannot be changed. In digital printing
though, there’s no such thing, so you can easily customize each print unit without too much hassle.
For example, you can print different names on wedding cards, where only one small area is changed
while the remaining is the same.
Accuracy: With digital printing, you can print samples to check on color accuracy and the like so
that you’re printing exactly what you envisioned. It’s easy to tweak colors and their properties,
but with offset printing the whole process gets much trickier because of the physical separation of
ink and water.
So in a nutshell, if you’re looking for customized prints and small or multiple batches, digital
printing is the way
to go. Easy, flexible and affordable up to a certain point, digital printing is definitely worth