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The ABCs of Printing

What is the difference between offset printing and digital printing?

Both offset and digital printing are accomplished by placing small dots of various color in a specific pattern, to trick the eye into seeing millions of colors. The size of the dots and the patterns are the same in both offset and digital printing. The four colors used in full color printing are C= cyan, M= magenta, Y= yellow, and B= black, and three used in RGB, R= red, G= green, and B= blue. Your computer monitor uses RGB color and cannot duplicate all of the colors available in the CMYK gamut. That is why it is very important to convert your image or document to a CMYK file so that the colors all remain the same when printed.

Digital printing is best suited for short run color jobs. What do we mean by short run? Well, most jobs that range in quantity from 1,000 and under are considered short run jobs. In digital printing each sheet is imaged using the CMYK process when it passes through the fusing unit. This ensures that each sheet will look identical but also requires a slower run speed and costs the end user the same per sheet imaged. Digital printing requires NO set-up time, and can be printed, cut and boxed, within hours of being ordered. Due to digital printing being fairly new and requiring almost no techincal training the cost to operate these machines is still more expensive than offset.

Offset printing has been around for hundreds of years. Offset printing is accomplished on the simple principle that oil and water don’t mix. The ink used in offset presses has a oil to it’s base and therefore allows the ink to be repelled by water. The plates used on a offset press, have a chemical feature that allows the image area to repel water thus attracting ink and the opposite for the non-image areas. The areas that we don’t want ink will attract water and repel ink. The plate then transfers the ink to a soft rubber blanket and the blanket transfers that image to the paper.

How do I prepare a file for printing?

There are many different types of programs that allow files to be transported and printed. Each program is a little different and will allow for a different sub set of file extensions you can save as. The most common file type for printing is a .pdf. Portable Document File. .PDF’s are great for almost all types of printing, but the file is only as good as YOU make it. When you save a file to .pdf there will be several options to consider. One of the most important is the dpi (dot per inch) and will have the largest impact on the quality of the finished product. The higher the resolution the better until you reach around 1200×1200 dpi. Anything above that is not worth the file space to save it.

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Infinite Printing
9113 Euclid Avenue
Manassas, VA 20110

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