Printing 101

By: Maricon Williams

Today’s printing presses can do many more things quicker than the early presses. The long ones print lots of colors all at once. The smaller ones print black only. The biggest, tallest presses are the ones responsible in making newspapers, magazines and comic books we read. Some presses can print both sides of the page at the same time. And some connect to a computer to make printing easier.

Artists have used printmaking to create their most philosophical and compelling works of art, but the basic printmaking techniques remain a mystery to most people. Frequently it comes down to a lack of understanding of the printing process and a lack of communication between the designer and the printer.

Your printer, presumably an expert in printing, can make suggestions for keeping your printing cost low but in good quality. Some of the remedy in cost cutting is through duotones or tritones, to produce professional and interesting designs if your budget does not permit using lots of color or expensive paper.

Different forms of varnishing can also be a solution.

Once a piece is off the press, the production process continues. There are many forms of finishing such as binding, scoring and cutting that can be taken into consideration to put together a more interesting and effective piece. You should also supervise the progress of your print to avoid misdealing.

In an article entitled Putting all the pieces together posted on mydesignprimer.com, a long list to ask your prospective printer was introduced. How can you tell if a printer is right for you? One of the ways that you can tell is through their equipment and the method that will be used to print your piece. There are a lot of different ways to print a piece and it's in your best interests to know about each method. Common methods of printing include Letterpress, Flexography, Gravure/Rotogravure, Engraving/Thermography, Offset Lithography and Silkscreen. For short-run printing you might want to consider photocopying, direct-to-plate or digital printing. Web printing might be something to consider for large print runs.

The main thing that we should consider is communication. We should understand the different components of printing. In cases when we don’t know, conversing with your prospective printer will be of great help. It is best if you know the concept of the task for the prepress to be able to assist you properly. To save us from costly printing headaches, its better to know the field where we deal with.

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