As a full-service commercial print shop we offer offset, letterpress and digital printing combined with all manner of bindery and finishing. Set your project apart with edge painting, foil stamping and/or embossing. Saddle stitch, perfect bind, wire-o, or even case bind your books and booklets. Choose any paper, any size or any quantity: if it is on paper, we can help you produce it. Call or email us for a quote.
Commercial digital printing is typically done with heavy-duty, high volume laser or inkjet printers. In digital printing, an image is sent directly from a computer to the printer in the form of digital files like PDFs without the need for a traditional printing plate to produce the image. This makes digital printing a cost-effective choice for very short runs, as the setup costs are much less than with offset printing, especially when printing in full color.
Digital printing uses four-color process printing and can only simulate Pantone colors. Where offset printing uses metal plates with a fixed image, digital presses can change the printed image on every sheet. This allows for short-run, cost-effective print runs of projects with many pages (like books and magazines) that were traditionally too expensive to produce using offset in very small numbers. Digital printing also allows for cost-effective customization called variable data printing. With variable data printing, something like personalized letters can be produced with a different name and address on each letter.
While digital printing quality has improved greatly in the last few years, this process can still present some limitations when looking to produce a project. With digital printing the image can move around on the press sheet throughout the run (unlike with offset printing where the image stays in exactly the same place) making it difficult to maintain very thin borders while trimming or ensuring that crossover images in booklets or books line up perfectly.
Offset printing, also called offset lithography, is a method of mass-production printing in which inked images on metal plates are transferred (offset) to rubber blankets or rollers and then to the printing surface. This lithographic process is based on the natural repulsion of oil and water. The image to be printed receives ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a film of water that keeps it ink-free. In offset printing, the paper never comes into direct contact with the metal plates.
Offset lithography became the primary form of commercial printing (replacing letterpress) starting in the 1950s. It is known for producing consistently high quality images, and made printing in color more common and cost-effective. Subsequent improvements in plates, inks and paper have further improved offset printing quality and speed. Traditionally, film negatives were produced to make plates, but now most shops employ computer-to-plate workflows where the printing plates are made directly from digital files.
Offset printing supports both CMYK (or four-color process) and Pantone (or spot color) inks. Unlike older letterpress presses, newer offset presses can print many colors at once. Shops now have presses that can print four, five or six colors in one pass. Smaller, less expensive offset presses can often only print two colors at once. Offset printing offers the most flexibility for projects with special papers, special finishes and special sizes.
Since offset printing has relatively high setup or front-end costs, very short runs can be cost-ineffective. But since the setup costs are fixed, the unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up making offset printing still the most cost-effective process available for medium- to large-volume printing.
Letterpress is the oldest modern form of printing. In this method, a surface with raised letters is inked and pressed to the surface of the printing substrate to reproduce an image. Traditionally, metal type was used, but now we use polymer plates made from film negatives of digital artwork.
Letterpress was the predominant printing method from its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century up until the second half of the 20th century, when offset printing was developed. More recently, letterpress printing has seen a revival in an artisan form.
Letterpress excels at printing fine type and line work. Letterpress printing is not ideal for solid fields of color. Most large solid shapes result in the color printing ‘salty’, a term used to describe the texture and color of the paper showing through the ink.
While letterpress was never intended to be printed with a dramatic impression, or deboss, into the paper, it is often the most desired feature today. Certain papers show off this impression better than others.
Letterpresses are also used to die-cut for special shapes, folders or boxes. When combined with heat and a metal die, letterpresses can foil-stamp and emboss/deboss. These additional processes can be combined with any form of inked printing to create truly unique printed pieces.