8 Basic Printing Techniques Used In the Web to Print Industry

The various printing ways that are currently available are letterpress printing, flexo printing, offset printing, screen printing, UV printing, embroidery printing, engraving, embossing, gravure and digital printing to name a few. Here we explore the 8 basic printing techniques that are used.

Printing is a form of reproduction of text and images in existence since ancient times. The print industry has made huge headways from the ancient Chinese woodblock printing days. Today, large scale printing is done using a printing press while small scale printing is done using digital printers.

Advances in technology have aided this industry through the emergence of various web to print software. While earlier, paper used to be the most common medium on which printing was done, today the materials range from plastic, metals and cloth to many other materials.

One of the most recent developments that has taken place in the printing industry is the advent of personalization. While the world moves to online shopping, personalization rules the roost. It is now important that brands offer this option for the sake of customer satisfaction and to boost their sales. Moreover, they have realized that this is also the most cost efficient and smart way of branding.

The various printing ways that are currently available are letterpress printing, flexo printing, offset printing, screen printing, UV printing, embroidery printing, engraving, embossing, gravure and digital printing to name a few. Here we explore the 8 basic printing techniques that are used.

Flexo Printing

Called flexography or simply flex, this is done using a flexible relief plate. It can be used to print on any material like plastic, cellophane, metallic films, and of course, paper. It is widely used for printing on the non-porous materials used in food package industries.

This involves multiple processes like platemaking, mounting and then printing. Flex has an advantage of being able to use a wide range of inks. This makes it a preferred choice for printing on many different materials like brown paper, plastic, foil, acetate film and a few other materials used for packaging.

Offset Printing

In this printing technique the inked image is offset from a plate to a rubber blanket, and further on to the printing surface. This is used very commonly in combination with the lithographic printing process.  Used in many common applications, namely newspapers, magazines, stationery, brochures and books, this is the most economically suited for large volume high quality printing.

Other advantages are quick, easy production of the printing plates, longer lifespan of the printing plates and the capability to adjust the ink quantity in the fountain roller with the screw keys.

Screen Printing

In screen printing, a mesh or screen is used to transfer the ink onto the substrate, by blocking off areas using a blocking stencil. The screen or mesh can be made out of any synthetic polymer like nylon.

This is also referred to as silk-screen, serigraphy, and serigraph printing. It can be used for printing on materials like paper, textiles, glass, wood, metal and even ceramics. Used most commonly in garments, it is also seen in clock and watch faces, balloons, and many other products.

UV Printing

A form of digital printing, UV printing as indicated by the name, uses ultra-violet lights to dry the ink as the printing happens. While the printing surface is distributed with ink from the printer, UV lights specially designed to instantly dry the ink follow it.

The advantages that UV printing have is that these prints have a high amount of resistance to fading and are weather resistant too. It is also a more environmentally friendly process. It can be used on more surfaces like wood, metal, hand-made canvas, CDs, concrete, plastic and even ceramic tiles. It also saves time as well as electricity.

Embroidery Printing

Apart from screen printing, embroidery printing is the other most common method used for garments. Going by the definition of embroidery, this involves weaving a design with the help of a needle and thread. These are used to bring in intricate designs on the apparel using either direct or patch embroidery methods. These are mostly used in printing logos on shirts, while also used on caps, hats, jackets, sweatshirts and even bags. Various factors, including the number of stitches, colors used and the place where the embroidery is done, determine the cost of this printing.


Engraving is a very old printing technique in which raised areas are created for printing images like those on a business card or letterhead. Thermographic printing too provides the same effect. This technique has been used in jewelry making from ancient times. It can be done using hand or machines. Advanced computer aided engraving is now used, mostly in creation of diamond based jewelry.


This is a printing technique used to create a three dimensional design by pressing it onto a paper or cardstock. It can be used to create logo designs or text. The embossed design is seen raised from the surrounding areas. It is used in places where you need to make an impression literally, like on your invitations, folders, business cards, certificates, brochures etc.

Digital Printing

A direct result of the technological advances, digital printing implies printing directly to a printing surface using a digital-based image. Most professional printing is done using this method. This is usually slightly costlier than the traditional printing methods, but saves time, is highly customizable and can be done on demand. The cost is countered by the time and labor factor and large print runs can be done at a low price. This is one of the most popular methods nowadays.

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Through this article we have provided you information about the basic printing techniques and also introduced you to our web to print software product. If you liked this article, we request you to please share it in your circles so that others can benefit from this too.

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