Sunday, November 4, 2012

Offset Printing History: Understanding the Past to Appreciate the Future

There’s a reason why printers and print users need to understand the history of printing before indulging themselves in the process—they need to appreciate the past in order to understand the future. Digital printing, for instance, was a product of offset printing. By understanding the history of offset printing, printers can better understand what digital printing is and how they can take full advantage of such printing process. The history of offset printing can be traced back to the 19th century. From that time until today, a lot of remarkable events have happened that made offset printing what it is today—a one of a kind printing process that can produce large volumes of high quality print work.

Here’s a quick rundown of the rich history of offset printing:
1875 – Robert Barclay invented the first lithographic press which makes use of hard stone or metal to print.

 1903 – Ira Washington Rubel invented the very first offset printing press, which became the model of the printing press that large printing and publishing companies still use today. Around the same time, Charles and Albert Harris created the same press as what Rubel created using a rotary letter press machine.

 1930 – Heatset printing was introduced which makes use of drying lamps to set the inks so the materials will look glossy and high contrast.

 1950 – Most newspaper companies in the United States were utilizing offset printing to produce their copies. Offset printing became the most dominant form of commercial printing during this decade.

1962 – Heidelberger captured the offset market when it produced its first offset printing machine.

1970s to today – Offset printing continues to be used by most companies in producing printed materials. Although digital printing gets the lion’s share of most business printing needs today, it isn’t the only way to produce high quality print projects. For most companies, offset remains the best option when producing large volumes of high quality printed materials.

 Offset printing played an important role in the history of printing. It shaped the printing industry as we know it today and set the bar for digital printing. It will continue to have a major role in the printing industry in the succeeding years as more and more print jobs will continue to be done through this printing process.

Indeed, with good knowledge of the past, we can better understand and appreciate the future. By understanding the history of offset printing, we can better appreciate digital printing.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

What is Green Printing?

Printing is necessary to a growing business. Although digital communications are more popular these days, there will still be times when you need to go the printing way. This will require you to use paper and printer to communicate your message, but you can’t just use any paper and printer. You have to look for “green” options.

When we say green printing, we actually mean using recycled paper, soy ink, and carrying out environment-friendly printing practices. Recycling is a fairly popular practice these days. Experts believe that every ton of paper recycled saves more than 3.3 cubic yards of landfill space. This is why more and more companies today use recycled paper. It’s important, though, that you look for the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) or the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) logo or certification on the recycled papers you buy to ensure that the forest products come from responsible sources.

Vegetable or soy-based inks are great alternatives to petroleum-based inks. They have low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) so they don’t release a lot of harmful chemicals to the atmosphere. Soy is stable material that comes from soybeans while vegetable-based inks come from several sources such as linseed, tung, castor, canola, and safflower.   

Green printing is a fairly new practice, but lots of literatures and articles have been written about it. A simple Internet research will give you plenty of resources which can help you decide on the best green practices to adapt.

By practicing green printing, you are sending a powerful message to your audience that you care about the environment. Hopefully, when people see your materials they will be motivated to do the same.    

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fundamentals of Typography

Imagine a TV ad, magazine print, or website without text. Sure, images can communicate a lot of details to viewers, but in order to communicate the exact information, text is necessary. It’s the primary way of passing information to readers; it can raise passion, grab attention, and intrigue readers. Therefore, it’s something that every printer or designer should know about. If you’re new in the design or printing industry, here’s a brief guide on the commonly used terms to get you started.


Wikipedia defines typography as the “art and technique of arranging type in order to make language visible.” It is the design and use of typefaces and includes calligraphy, digital media, and web pages among others.    


This refers to the characters (letters, numbers, etc.) used in design that shares a common style. Samples of typefaces are Arial, Courier, and Times New Roman.


This refers to a set of type in a specific style and size. Essentially, the set of fonts refers to the typeface; the variations of the design are the typeface family; and the specific style and size is the font. For instance, Helvetica is the typeface family, Helvetica italic is the typeface, and Helvetica italic 10-point is the font.      


This is the line where letters sit, below which descenders extend.


This refers to the space between lines of text which is measured in points. The distance is measured from one baseline to the next.

This refers to the size of a font, so when we say 12pt, this refers to the full height of the text block.


This is basically used to measure lines of text and contains 12 point units of measure.


This is the adjustment of space between characters to increase legibility.  



This refers to adding space between characters.   

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Tracing the Roots of 3D Printing

There have been talks of 3D printing being used to make practically everything, from houses to rifles to human organs. Some even say that this technology can be used to make food sustainable in countries where food reserves are low. Sounds like science-fiction, right? For a long time, it was, but not anymore. Believe it or not, there have been researches about this technology since the 1980s and the most groundbreaking of them all is when Charles Hull created the first commercial 3D printer in 1984. Since then, a lot of studies have been made that have helped develop 3D printing. In the next few years, don’t be surprised if this printer reaches your home.  

The idea behind 3D printing is very simple. It makes use of a digital file and transforms it into a physical object. Still, while the idea may be simple, the process itself is very complex. Nonetheless, it’s a magnificent technology that can be valuable in various fields even if it’s not getting enough credit for its potential. It may be the most significant invention of the 20th century, but we still need a lot of time to perfect the technology.    

This amazing infographic from Printerinks traces the rich history of 3D printing and how far it has gone, especially in terms of human organ transplants.   

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Interesting Facts Behind Color Printing

Color printing is not a new process. It has been studied, experimented, and used by many different civilizations for more than 2000 years. In fact, until today we are continuously learning new things about colors and how they affect our lives.

As expected, most print jobs and materials today are created in color. Black and white printing is only used when necessary because colored materials grab attention more easily. This is especially true when producing advertising materials. A lot of business owners today don’t hesitate to spend substantial amount of money just to get their materials printed in color.     

The following are facts about color printing that you might want to take note of especially if you are hiring commercial printing services to produce your materials:

  1. Full color or four color printing makes use of CMKY (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Key or Black) to produce full color materials.
  2. Full color printing is a subtractive process since putting colored inks on paper deducts brightness from paper.
  3. The first book printed in color was produced from the printing press of Johann Fust and Peter Schoeffer.       
  4. Halftoning or screening is used to produce thousands of colors through full color printing.
  5. Cyan, magenta, and yellow are capable of creating different colors, but they cannot produce the color black.
  6. Computer monitors displays images on RGB (Red, green, and blue) colors while printing presses makes use of the CMYK model. It’s best to convert RGB files to CMYK before printing to avoid color shifts.
  7. Black in CMYK is called key because the printing plates of cyan, magenta, and yellow are keyed with that of the black toner’s key plate. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fast Facts on Paper, Printing, and Ink

Paper was first used in 105 AD during the Han Dynasty in China and spread slowly to other countries over the years. Centuries later, we still use paper for practically everything—toilet paper, newspaper, receipts, magazines, packaging, and the list goes on. Just image the amount of paper we have used since it was first invented until today and we can probably fill thousands of rooms with them. Here are some facts about paper that you probably don’t know yet:

·         An average American uses 7 trees in a year for paper and other products made from trees.
·         1 ton of paper makes 400 reams, which equals to about 200,000 sheets.
·         Benjamin Franklin is the first American paper merchant.
·         Paper was so scarce during the American Revolution that soldiers had to rip pages from books to use as filling for their riffles. 
·         Based on a Xerox study, U.S. corporations spend $120 billion each year on paper forms.


Printing remains one of the most effective ways to share and exchange information these days. According to a survey conducted by Doremus and the Financial Times, 60% of senior executives said that they turn to print when they want in-depth analysis. Correspondingly, the 3rd annual Signs of the Times national survey conducted by FedEx revealed that 61% small business owners consider traditional marketing methods as more effective than web-based marketing methods at bringing in customers. These reveal that print remains effective even if we are highly technical and digital these days. Here are some fast facts about printing:


Printing companies and individual printers have wide choices of ink these days. Companies like HP, Epson, and Canon each have their own specialized inks designed for their own printers. And despite predictions that the printing industry is waning, home printers have made the ink industry secure for at least the next few years. Here are some fast facts about ink as stated in an article from the San Francisco Chronicle:

·         A typical printer cartridge is more expensive than a Dom Perignon champagne or a Chanel No. 5.
·         In 2003, the ink and toner industry was a $32.5 billion industry.
·         HP spends about $1 billion per year on research and development for imaging and printing.