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.