A hand pointing to large letterpress letter and number plates on a letterpress workstation.


Wikipedia has the first record of printing dated to 220 AD, using a process called wood block printing. However, it is Gutenberg’s "printing press" in the mid-1450's that modernized the method most of us use today.

Since Gutenberg’s invention, many forms are used to deliver our messages. Here are the four most common methods:

Offset Printing

Most folks consider this the standard method for sales, marketing and business identity printing. Ink systems like CMYK and Pantone deliver an economical approach to quantities from 750 to 100,000,000. The term offset is based on the process of transferring the image from a plate, to a blanket to the intended substrate.

Digital Printing

Everything from internal business forms to the inserts for custom buttons can be digitally printed. Items like training manuals, presentations, displays, sell sheets are processed from a computer file (pdf, Microsoft, Adobe, etc.) to paper very quickly and easily. This method is based on processing digital information and outputting using a wet or melted ink (e.g., toner). While the quality used to be second to offset presses, digital printing is a comparable solution to most short run needs. Digital printing is most often suited for 1 - 750 quantities, but also serves the reproduction of manuals with hundreds of thousands of pages being printed.

Screen Printing

As the name infers, this method is the process of pushing (or pulling) ink through a screen for the desired effect on textiles and non-standard substrates. In most instances, an emulsion is used to burn an image first, then washed away to reveal the path for the ink to pass. While there is a growing digital and "plotting" approach to apparel, most t-shirts you see today are screen printed.

Letterpress Printing

The letterpress method makes use of a manufactured plate that picks up ink and transfers it onto the intended substrate via a stamping or pressured application. Most uses of this method today are specialty invitations and custom pieces, offering a unique depression when transferring the intended artwork. While the result of this approach has huge cool factor, it is not an efficient method for large quantities and is often more expensive.

While there are many additional forms and variations to consider, most business printing today is achieved via these four methods. Whether outputting to plates or direct to paper, your local printer can help you deliver your message, fast and efficiently.

Xperient is Central Florida's locally owned premier printer, employing a wide variety of print methods to deliver great quality (and service).

Posted 2017

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