Offset printing technology is some of the oldest printing technology, but is also one of the most commonly used. About 40% of all print jobs, primarily business printing, is done with an offset printing machine, and the machine itself it fairly simple. There are two main types of offset printers, and both are commonly used in the printing industry. Buying an offset machine may not be a good idea, but using offset printing is a great way to decrease printing prices.
Both offset machines feature three different cylinders, and all of them perform a special role. When paper passes through the first cylinder, the printing plate is pressed against the paper. This causes the image, in the right orientation, to be placed on the paper. Ink is also applied to the first cylinder, which goes over into the second cylinder, but not onto the paper just yet.
On the second cylinder, the image appears in reverse because the image is offset. The paper and ink meet in the third cylinder, and the image is finally right and printed on the paper. This is when the paper comes out of the printer with the image and ink fully affixed to the page.
While all offset printers feature three cylinders, there are two main offset printers. Sheet-feed is a little more difficult to use, because one sheet is fed in at a time. This is more difficult, because there is a higher chance of paper jamming, but less mechanisms are needed. Web-fed uses a paper roll which is cut down at the end. Jamming rarely occurs, but there needs to be a mechanism to cut the paper, and the paper must be cut at the right size, otherwise the prints will come out incorrect.
While this seems a lot harder than using an inkjet or laser printer, and it takes a lot of experience to setup an offset printer, they are able to print with unsurpassed quality. Not only that, but after the offset printer is prepped and ready, printing is dirt cheap. Most of the printing cost comes from the initial setup, so this saves businesses a lot of money.
Unless you are planning to do a massive amount of printing, or you plan to own a printing business, it is not recommended that you purchase an offset machine. This is because they take up a lot of room, you need printing experts to correctly make the machine work, and the initial setup is very difficult. However, using offset printing services is recommended, because the prints will be very cheap at high quantities, and the prints come out with much better clarity and quality when compared to laser or inkjet prints.