The sheer majority of commercial printing for catalogs, magazines or books is on an offset printing press. Therefore for the purpose of this article, I will exclude any reference to digital printing in its pure form, which is solely utilized for small runs and in most cases toner based, with the exception of Indigo, which uses inks.
There are many reasons to utilize web offset printing vs. sheet fed and here are some for your consideration as the benefits are many:
1- Web offset printing is a high speed process utilizing large rolls of paper rather than individual sheets. The main benefit to you is that the speed provides press efficiency that in turn allows for you books, magazines or catalogs to be printed at a lesser cost than if on sheet fed.
2- You also benefit with the paper coming in rolls, which allows the paper companies to deliver paper stock with one less process while refining that of “sheeting” the paper for use on sheet fed presses. This reduces the cost of paper that you will be paying for in order to produce your commercial printing work at the respective printing company doing so. Since paper in web offset printing is generally about 50% of the cost to you for printing your magazines or catalogs, then any reduction in that cost is a savings to the print buyer.
3- Change over times in the newer digital web offset printing presses and the digital printing process, from file to plating, is not just a time saver, as the newest web printing presses can be up to color and registration within ten minutes due to automation. Digital printing, bypassing the film and the distortion it can create due to uneven surfaces also saves time with getting the correct plate registration, so there are no colors “peeping” out at you where they should not.
4- Another benefit of web offset printing, for those of you who do press checks, you will be in and out the door following your press check, due to the speed of the web offset printing process with the newer modern web printers. I recall the old days, especially where the press check took place at midnight and if there were multiple signatures, which of course there usually are with web offset printing, I would have to hang around for an hour or more waiting for the pressman to make the changeover with the new plates and then getting them up to color and proper registration.
One of the negative by products of this process on the older non digital, web printing presses was that about ten percent of what was run prior to your press check, just getting all up to speed for color and registration actually went into the finished shipment. Very few offset web printing presses would ever tell you this, but it was universal at the time. It is not that you wound up with ten percent junk, but that it did not meet the criteria of your press check and the changes you made.
5- With today’s modern digital offset web printing presses, you also receive the benefit of a higher line screen, less jiggle than the older presses, meaning your trim will not vary book to book or signature to signature and unless you are doing “art printing” with exceptionally high line screen, there is not a reason anymore for you to be doing your magazine printing, book printing or catalogs on a sheet fed press for the “so called” superior offset printing of the sheet fed press.
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