Commercial printing is a form of graphic communication for businesses. With the use of a designer, custom printing company reproduce images and text onto a variety of substrates including Die Cut folders, promotional merchandise, and custom brochures.
The oldest form of custom printing is a letterpress printing. Throughout history letterpress printing is used to print newspapers, labels, custom folders, etc. It is typically known to be the most low quality form of commercial printing. In the 20th century, the invention of ultra-violet curing inks helped the letterpress remain precedent as other forms of printing took rise. For example, flexography allowed more for a wide range of applications for commercial printing. This included new substrates such as plastic, food packaging labels, and non-absorbent stock items. Items such as envelopes, newspapers, and pressure sensitive labels were more widely used. Flexography also allows for catalog printing. The adhesive frame allows for the inner pages to create more a solid book format with a harder cover. Catalog printing can takes hundreds of pages to showcase all of the items. Unlike custom brochures, catalog printing is a more of a direct sales item that concentrates on the products being sold. Custom brochures are used for branding, trade show marketing, and sales of new or old items. The ultra-violet ink allows for more high quality imaging and stronger text when catalog or brochure printing.
Custom printed folders are done with lithographic printing presses. The surface chemistry makes the image or text area water repellent and ink receptive. This allow for Lithographic printer to press the ink and watered printing plate to print on a rubber cylinder which in turn, off-sets the ink and water impression onto the paper which is held on a third cylinder. With more digital methods, the speed of the lithographic printing is quicker than a traditional off-set printing press. The advantage of lithographic printer is for large format printing and wide format printing. Wide format printing and large format printing involve larger substrates which can be used for banners, billboards, or signs. This form of custom printing can also be used for trade show marketing. Commercial printing companies take several weeks for a large or wide format printing project because of the required attention to detail and the need to avoid mistakes. Mistakes will cost a loss of dollars because of the amount of paper and substrate being used for the deliverable.
For lithographic printing, the newer technologies allows for computer-to-plate printing. The image used for wide format printing or large format printing is recorded on a digital file and sent to the plate instead of create printing film and preparation of the plate. The plates for commercial printing vary in thickness, between .008” and .0015”. The substrates for custom printing are sent through to either a photopolymer, industrial ink jet, or hybrid printer.
Martin Karnick has been associated with a commercial printing and he is the right position to tell a lot of thing on custom brochures, brochure printing, custom printed folders, wide format printing and custom printing.