The Commercial Printing Guide
What It Is and Who Needs It?
If you've ever needed to have business brochures printed or large quantities of posters made, you've likely used commercial printing services before. Commercial printing shops provide vital services to businesses and organizations by handling their printing needs in a professional and efficient manner. But what exactly is commercial printing, and who needs it? Read on to find out more about this amazing process, including where it might be headed in the near future and other useful facts.
What is Commercial Printing?
You may have a good idea of what commercial printing is, but there's a lot more to it than meets the eye. At its core, commercial printing is the process of using large-format printing machines to create high-quality printed materials. This can include anything from business cards and flyers to larger items like banners and posters. Commercial printing is usually done on a much larger scale than traditional printing, and it often uses specialized ink and paper to create a more professional finish.
Commercial Printing Types
There are several types of commercial printing available to customers, and the main ones used are as follows:
Offset printing, also known as lithography printing, is the most common type of commercial printing and the most cost-effective option for quality prints in larger quantities. Of course, short runs are also possible, but the set-up time and cost make it more ideal for large jobs. The process involves transferring an inked image from a plate to a rubber blanket, which is then transferred onto the printing surface. Offset printing offers a wide range of colors; common applications for it include magazines, brochures, stationery and sell sheets.
This type of commercial printing is much faster and easier than offset printing, making it the print job of choice for short runs and those that require a quick turnaround. Also, digital printing doesn't require the use of plates, which makes it more cost-effective than offset printing. The process is also excellent for variable data printing, a form of on-demand printing where elements like images, graphics and text can be varied from one printed item to the next.
Large Format Printing
As the name suggests, large format printing is used to print very large documents, such as indoor and outdoor posters and banners. It's often used for outdoor advertising, as it can create high-quality prints that are resistant to weathering. Large format printing can also be used for repeat banners/backdrops, wall decor, photo canvas prints and more.
Flexography uses a rotary printing method in which ink is applied to a surface with a flexible rubber or other elastomeric printing plates. It is popular in the food industry since the inks used in the process are safe for use on the wrappers, labels and cartons that come into contact with food.
Gravure is a type of intaglio printing in which the image to be printed is engraved onto a metal plate. It's often used for long print runs, as it can produce high-quality prints with little wear and tear on the printing plates.
LED UV Printing
This is a newer type of commercial printing that uses a special UV light to cure the ink. It's growing in popularity, as it's very eco-friendly and produces color enhancement that is resistant to bleeding. LED UV Printing is used on a variety of materials, but it is considered relatively expensive in comparison to the others on this list.
5 Types of Printers Used In Commercial Printing
The type of printer you use will depend on the commercial printing process you're using. Their top manufacturers are listed here with each type:
1. Offset Printing Presses
Companies that provide offset printing presses include Heidelberg, Manroland, Canon and Konica Minolta.
2. Digital Printers
There are a wide array of companies that provide commercial digital printing, including Canon and Inka. Sheer print solution prints with high-end Konica, Indigo, and iGenXL digital presses to produce the very best quality possible during digital printing.
3. Large Format Printers
In total, Mimaki, Canon, EPSON and Roland accounted for nearly 90% of the market (2016 figures) in terms of large format printer shipments, according to Business Wire.
4. Flexographic Presses
Flexographic presses are made by a handful of companies, including KYMC, SRM, Bobst, Mark Andy and W & H.
5. LED UV Printers
The most popular LED UV printers on the market are made by companies like Roland, BesJet, Inca Digital, EFI and Mimaki.
11 Industries That Use Commercial Printing Services
Commercial printing services can be used by a wide range of businesses and organizations, including (but not limited to):
- Ad agencies
- Auto dealers
- Book publishers
- Corporations of all sizes
- Government agencies
- Graphic designers
- Medical research
- Nonprofit organizations
- Real estate
What Are the Steps of the Printing Process?
The printing process can vary depending on the type of commercial printing you're using, although there are some common steps that are typically involved. You can check out the steps involved in the digital printing process on the Digital Printing page of our website to get an idea of what is involved.
The Future of Commercial Printing
Commercial printing is always evolving as new technologies are developed and new applications are discovered. Innovations will need to be made to stay ahead of the competition, and those who embrace change will be the most successful.
Here are a few notable trends that are currently shaping the commercial printing industry:
- Increased demand: Over the next few years printing companies can expect an increased demand for promotional materials from the retail, food, and beverage markets. According to a recent study, the global market for luxury packaging is expected to reach $25.4 million by 2031, which is an annual growth rate of 4.4% from 2021.
- More eco-friendly initiatives: Going green is becoming more popular in commercial printing activities, and processes are expected to transition to sustainable systems. As an example, many commercial printing shops are using recycled paper in their operations. Expect to see more vegetable oil-based inks in the process, as well, as they are more environmentally friendly than traditional inks.
- Digital printing innovation: The drive for faster runs at a lower cost is driving advancements to digital print technology. In fact, it is one of the main factors driving change in the printing industry. Digital printing is also forecasted to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.7%, from $24.8 billion in 2021 to $34.3 billion by 2026, according to a report by MarketsandMarkets.
Common Commercial Printing Definitions
Commercial printing can sometimes use jargon that those outside of the industry might not be familiar with. Here are some common terms you might come across when commercial printing:
Analog printing - This is a type of commercial printing that uses traditional methods, such as offset lithography, flexography and gravure.
Digital Printing - Digital printing is a type of commercial printing that uses digital technology to print images directly onto a substrate.
Giclée - Giclée (pronounced "zhee-clay") is a type of high-quality inkjet printing, typically used for fine art or photography.
Prepress - Prepress is the process of preparing files for commercial printing, which typically includes tasks like proofing, color correction and file conversion.
Bleed- This is when an image or color extends beyond the edge of a page.
Die-cut- A die-cut is an image that has been cut out using a custom-shaped blade.
Embossing- Embossing is a printing technique that creates raised images on a substrate.
Foil stamping - Foil stamping is a type of printing that uses heat and pressure to apply foil to a substrate.
Proof - A proof is a printout of your file that allows you to check for any errors before the final printing process.
Screen Printing - Screen printing is a type of commercial printing that uses a stencil and mesh screen to transfer an image onto a substrate.
Pages in Our Commercial Printing Guide:
- What is Commercial Printing
- Printing Definitions
- The Printing Process
- Industries & Companies that Use Printing
- Types of Commercial Printing
- The Future of the Commercial Printing Industry
Contact Sheer Print Solutions for a Fast and Accurate Quote Today
If you have questions about the printing process or would like to get a quote for your next project, reach out to the experts at Sheer Print Solutions. We offer a wide range of commercial printing services and would be happy to help you with your next project. Give us a call today at +1 (212) 627-1500 or use our online quote form to get started.
About The Author
Craig Sheer is the owner of Sheer Print Solutions, located in New York City & Portchester, NY. We are the proven leader for affordable, high-quality Digital and Offset, and Large Format Printing in NYC. Sheer Printing Solutions is your single source for solutions to all your printing, binding, warehousing and fulfillment needs.