Commercial Printing Methods: Comprehensive Guide

Commercial Printing Methods: Comprehensive Guide

If you have never dabbled in the world of commercial printing, then it’s easy to have the misconception that there’s only one way of printing things. After all, your only experience of printing is when you use an office printer. While this only provides one printing method, commercial printing has many to call upon. 

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the main methods in circulation, explaining how they work and when they’re commonly used. But first, there’s a question you might be asking…

Why are different commercial printing methods used?

Put simply, some methods suit certain projects and budgets better than others. Additionally, offering diversity is a great way for commercial printing companies to differentiate themselves from the crowd. If everyone offered one method, clients wouldn’t have much to choose from and every company would be the same. 

With that in mind, what are the main methods of commercial printing?

Offset Printing

Sometimes referred to as lithographic printing, offset printing is commonly used when printing large volumes of items all at once. 

The method calls upon printing plates that hold the image that needs to be printed. The plate is then inked and transferred from the plate onto rollers. From here, the roller then transfers the image onto the printing surfaces. It gets its name because the image is ‘offset’ by transferring to rollers instead of directly transferring to the printing surface. 

The huge benefit of offset printing is that it handles higher volumes with ease and is very cost-effective. It also tends to produce the most accurate colors and the highest quality images. Plus, you can print on a variety of materials; paper, cardboard, plastic, etc. 

Digital Printing

With digital printing, you have a modern method of printing images. This is typically the style of printing that office printers will use, and it can involve techniques such as inkjet or laser printing. 

Regardless, the method is the same – and it’s rather simple. Images are taken from digital files and copied directly to the printing surface. There’s no need for printing plates, so it tends to be quicker and cheaper than offset printing. 

However, it isn’t always the best option for high-volume runs. Digital printing is usually used for smaller run jobs when a fast turnaround is required. 

Large Format Printing

Next, you have large format printing, which doesn’t hide much in its name. 

Yes, this method is reserved for prints in a larger format than normal. We’re talking about billboards, large banners, posters for display windows, and so on. Again, you can print things onto basically any material with this method, and the whole idea is to create large prints that are extremely eye-catching. 

If you need to print things that are larger than normal, this is the method we recommend. It will help you deliver large-format prints that draw people’s attention while retaining clarity and image quality. 

Screen Printing

You sometimes come across screen printing in the commercial printing world, but mainly when you want to move images onto clothing. Screen printing uses a mesh to transfer the image onto the printing material. 

It’s a pretty complex and niche method, which is why it can be quite costly – so we recommend ordering in bulk if you ever do this, just to keep the cost per print as low as possible. We’ve seen this used for printing logos onto clothes, so it could be an option if you need uniforms created for your business. 

3D Printing

A relative newcomer to the commercial printing game, 3D printing has grown in popularity over the last few years. A 3D printer will effectively take a digital model and turn it into a real-life object. It’s rather complex, with the 3D model being turned into 2-dimensional layers for the printer to make sense of. Smart technology that tells the printer which layers to print first, adding one piece by piece. 

Eventually, you get the finished product, which is a physical 3D object. This printing method is typically used to create products or parts for products. It can also be used to generate prototypes to help during the product development cycle. 

If you are looking for commercial printing services, these are the main methods in circulation at the moment. Others do exist, but the two biggest ones are the first two mentioned in this guide; offset and digital printing. At Bayside Printing, we offer local printing services for any businesses that need them. With our specialized offset and digital printing methods, we can make regular and large-format prints in high-volume orders at competitive prices. Contact us to learn more!

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