Discussion of printing is a vast subject and requires substantial time and resources and cannot be covered in one or two blogs. In a series of blogs in this space we will try to cover major aspects of printing that include analogue and digital printing and then converge specifically into inkjet printing, the domain expertise of Rex-Tone Industries ltd.
Though various definitions exist for printing, one of the most accurate defines printing as, “a mark or an impression on a surface with a colored substance (ink)”. In the industrialized world of printing the process can be categorized into two broad segments: Analogue and Digital printing. First we will discuss Analogue printing in detail followed by digital printing and eventually culminating in detailed discussions of inkjet printing.
Analogue printing can be defined as a contact printing process where the image to be printed is transferred through direct or indirect contact of a ‘negative’ or a ‘die’ (eg: letter press) to the surface to be printed. That means for each set of images or texts an ‘image plate’ has to be created manually. There are a few different types of Analogue printing based on the materials and methods. The major Analogue printing methods used today are
- Offset Lithography
- Screen Printing
- Gravure printing
Before we advance further and discuss each technology, let’s look at the major advantages of Analogue printing.
- Analogue printing generally yields very high print quality
- For large run lengths cost per page is very low
- Analogue printing is very fast and is highly productive
- Thick laydown volumes are easier (like varnish)
- High viscosity, paste inks can be used
Some of the disadvantages of Analogue printing over Digital printing are
- High cost for short run lengths
- Longer set up time
- Longer lead time for change of designs
- Accumulation of physical plates and cylinders over time
- Higher chemical exposure relative to digital printing
In the next segment we will discuss about the advantages and disadvantages of digital printing. Further, we will discuss Offset Lithography in detail.
– Dr. Pradeep K (President, R&D)