The Printing Process

The history of printing in the UK actually spans more than 500 years and began with William Caxton, who learned his trade in Europe before setting up his famous Black Letter type press at Westminster.

Since then the printing process has evolved and improved significantly, and these days there are many different forms of printing to choose from. The main types are:

Offset printing

Widely used in the printing of newspapers and magazines, the offset printing technique is where an inked image is transferred first to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface, such as paper or cardboard. This type of printing is often combined with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water. When this happens the offset technique takes on a flat image carrier with ink rollers that print the image. During this process the non-printing area is covered with a film of water to keep it ink-free.

There are a number of advantages of offset printing, such as consistently high quality images, usability on a wide range of printing surfaces including paper, wood, cloth and metal, and quick and easy production.

Four-colour printing

This is the most common method used for producing full colour prints, and is used frequently in the production of magazines and colour books. In the past, artwork and originals were separated photographically to produce four printing plates but today this is done digitally. The four ink colours are Cyan (Blue), Magenta (Red), Yellow and Black (CMYK). These inks are translucent and can be overprinted and combined in a range of different proportions to produce a wide range of colours.

Relief printing

Relief printing involves applying ink to a raised image on a plate or board and then printing the resulting image onto paper.

Screen printing

Also known as silkscreening or serigraphy, screen printing creates a sharp-edged single-color image using a stencil and a porous fabric. Images created in this way are called screenprints or serigraphs.

Digital Inkjet and Laser Printing

Perhaps the fastest, newest and now most commonly used form of printing is inkjet printing. Inkjet and laser printers are now readily available for use in your home or office, and offer fast, high quality printouts of a range of images, such as photos, text documents and envelope labels.

Although more and more people are buying printers for their homes, and most offices in the UK have printers for staff to use, there is still a need for professional printers, which offer a wide range of services, such as the printing of important documents, wedding invitations, student dissertations, and more.