How to talk the talk when working with printers

April 18, 2013

Last week I gave you the reasons why it’s worth the extra moolah to go to the high grade printers. Now I’ll give you some easy tips for making sure you get what you want when work with your printer. By explaining some of the techy terms that can send people cross eyed, you'll know the terms to use to get what you want so you don't end up with something unexpected.

Offset: Perfect for high volume printing and large sizes. It involves ‘plates’ of your image being made and inked before the image is transferred ( "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then on to the paper. This is when you need to know your pantone colours.

Digital: CMYK printing through a machine, great for shorter runs and photo heavy designs. Digital printing has come a long way and you can now print with white and clear varnish inks at some printers.

Letterpress: A type of relief printing where type or image is arranged and then inked before being pressed onto the paper. This can be a lot more crisp than offset as it presses into the paper. This uses spot colour not CMYK.

Screen printing / silk screen: Mesh screens go through chemical and light treatment to create a single colour ‘stencil’. This is then used to press ink through onto the print surface, you can only print on colour at a time with this but has great effects for posters and fabric.

Foiling: Where a foil colour of your choice is stamped onto your image from a heated plate and leaves a slight embossed texture.

Embossing: A raised or relief texture to your design created by using a ‘female’ & ‘male’ roller with your design on them. As the paper rolls through it pushes the paper into the shape of the pattern on the rollers.

Stock: A fancy name for paper or card.

GSM: The weight of paper. For example 80gsm is very thin 320gsm is thicker.

Pixels Per Inch: When you print you need a minimum of 300 pixels per inch. This means if you print an image that is grabbed from a website it is usually about 72 pixels per inch and will not print well.

Diecut: When a shape is cut from the print surface. A series of sharp blades are bent to create the desired shape and is then stamped into the paper cutting away the desired pattern.


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