The off set printing system is the most advantageous over other printing methods for several reasons, starting with cost. For short and medium runs, the price-performance ratio is much better than flexo or gravure. Only in very long runs, gravure has superior performance, but without achieving the same quality of resolution. Bearing in mind that the market tends to have shorter runs and lower minimum quantities, as well as greater customization of jobs, investing in offset equipment is the safest bet.
Since the industry introduced rotary offset printing in the mid-1990s and UV- or EB-curable inks were developed, other technologies have been losing ground. Furthermore, the difficulty of handling the large and heavy cassettes with which those rotary machines had to work was solved thanks to the development of the rotary offset printing system with variable printing with interchangeable sleeve.
The solid inks associated with UV or EB curing allowed offset to offer great performance also in printing on non-absorbent substrates, such as plastics and different polyolefin, essential for the packaging industry.
These are clean curing technologies that do not generate Volatile Organic Components (VOC) or residues, environmental advantages to which must be added the ability of offset to use these inks on any substrate width, something that other printing systems do not. They can match.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Off set printing and other technology?
Among the advantages offered by the offset system are:
- As for the plates, they are inexpensive, fast production, and their replacement or correction is simple.
- It is economical for short and medium runs.
- Prints fine lines and maintains bright spots in halftone images better than flexo and gravure.
- Supports exceptionally fine halftone screens.
- Print on all types of media.
- It offers low gain with midtones and an excellent register.
- You can make some color adjustments during printing.
Its weak points are:
- Oil-based inks dry very slowly, although this is solved by UV or EB curing inks.
- It does not produce solid color surfaces as well as flexo or gravure and the input is very low, which is remedied by adding an additional flexo module before offset printing.
- Oil-based inks and the need to wet the substrate can complicate printing. The solution consists of a water cooling system and a compound solution pumping system. .
- The initial investment for offset printing equipment is higher than for flexo, but it pays off due to the much lower consumption of inks and plates.
The strengths of flexo are:
- Prints large surfaces evenly and with good consistency.
- Prints rough and uneven substrates.
- It can reach great speeds.
- You can use water-based inks.
Among its disadvantages are:
- Appearance of the halo effect.
- It is sensitive to pressure changes in the press.
- The minimum size of screen dots does not meet the definition of offset printing. Neither in the reproduction of fine lines.
- Halftone dot gain is higher than offset and gravure.
- In halftone images, very bright spots tend to fade, while shadows tend to deepen.
- The consumption of inks and polymers is much higher than offset.
The advantages offered by gravure are:
- It achieves a very high printing speed.
- Allows reuse of engraved rollers.
- Get the best printing performance for very long runs.
On the contrary, it has disadvantages such as:
- The preparation of the cylinders is very expensive and time consuming.
- Due to the high cost, it is only profitable in very long runs.
- It does not provide good resolution of fine print, fine lines, and other small details.
- It requires inventory and storage of both the basic cylinders and the engraved cylinders, which makes this technology even more expensive.
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