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The Speed of Offset Printing

In the early days of the printing press, the machines were rudimentary and archaic, amounting to little more than giant stamps. The process was faster than hand-writing, but was otherwise fairly unremarkable. What was once a simple machine, though, quickly evolved, and over time, has become the printing press we know and recognize today. Made by recognizable brand names like Mitsubishi and Komori, offset printing presses are a technological achievement that makes materials like newspapers possible.

Evolution of a Machine

The printing press wasn't always as fast as it is today. With the first presses, carved block letters were loaded into a machine with a hand crank. The letters were coated with ink, and with a crank of the machine, pressed against paper to make a print. This enabled press operators to produce hundreds of pages a day, but that wouldn't cut it anymore, when a single newspaper may print well over a million copies every single night.

Technological Differences

The offset printing press uses spinning cylinders rather than an up-and-down motion to create prints quickly and efficiently. Think of the cylinders like a cross between a gear and a rolling pin—they touch one another, spinning quickly and smoothly, propelling each other around. The ink transfers from one cylinder to the next, going through refining along the way until it is printed on the paper. Paper is fed either in large sheets, like in a sheet-fed printing press, or in a large, continuous spool, like in a web-fed press.

Offset presses are also faster because they can process more colors, which mix throughout the printing process. For example, some Komori offset printers come equipped with four of six color processing, allowing you to diversify how many different colors you can effectively create on the page.

All of this adds up to the issue of speed, which is where offset printers have great strength. Web-fed presses, for example, are faster than sheet-fed printing presses, and can print 3,000 feet or more every single minute. For that reason, web-fed presses are the press of choice for materials like newspapers, catalogs and magazines. To learn more about offset printing presses, contact Graphic Innovators.