The printing industry is in the midst of a major transformation driven by digital technologies. Printing businesses are no longer categorized by the primary type of printing system they use. Advances in digital printing, e-commerce, and online marketing enable printing firms to create and sell multiple types of printed products to multiple niche markets.

To give you a clearer perspective on how the printing business is changing, we are developing a summer-long series of blog posts that will explain different types of printing. Here are five reasons it’s important for your printshop team to understand different types of printing.

Analog printing systems are widely used and are being enhanced with digital printing technologies. Offset, flexographic, and screen-printing equipment still offers some production and cost advantages that digital-printing equipment can’t match. Some analog printing systems are being retrofitted with performance-enhancing features, including digital technologies.

Before bidding on complex, multi-part printing jobs, you must understand whether you can produce the full job at a competitive price. For example, companies that use a mix of screen-printing presses and digital printers may be able to produce higher-run orders of POP graphics jobs at lower costs than your all-digital shop can.

The terminology is confusing. Every day you may hear new printing-related words that you are reluctant to admit that you don’t understand. That’s OK. Whether you are new to the printing industry or a long-time veteran, everyone hears new terminology as technologies for printing, marketing, advertising, packaging, sign making, and materials continue to advance.

Twenty years ago, screen-printers, flexographers, and commercial printers communicated primarily with others within their own sphere of customers and vendors. Everyone understood common terminology.

Today, users of digital printing devices may have zero experience in analog printing. Or, they may use vocabulary that reflects their backgrounds in screen printing, offset printing, flexography, sign making, or photo printing. So, even print-business veterans often don’t speak the same jargon.

Plus, print-industry vocabulary is constantly changing because innovations are introduced every month — not just in printing equipment, but also in prepress workflows, substrates, inks, and finishing systems.

Diversifying into new markets requires you to understand how certain products have been traditionally printed. For example, before marketing your ability to print custom fabrics for upholstery, find out what type of printing equipment long-time producers of upholstery fabrics used..In the course of your research, you may discover that many long-time providers of fabrics have added digital printing systems of their own.

Your customers count on you to recommend cost-effective solutions. If people who work in the printing business are confused by the many different printing options, just imagine how overwhelming it must seem to print buyers. When print buyers know they can trust you to recommend the most cost-effective combination of printing technology and materials, they will hire your shop whenever it makes the most economic sense.

You will get more from attending the printing industry trade shows.  Learning about different types of printing will help you understand many of the printing, prepress, and finishing technologies you will see at trade shows such as the 2019 Printing United Show in Dallas at the end of October.

You can identify potential partners for outsourcing. The more you understand about the costs and efficiencies of different printing methods, the better prepared you will be to work with outsourcing partners that can help you fulfill complex print jobs.

About the Printing 101 Series

Our Printing 101 series will explain the fundamentals of a wide range of analog and digital printing processes. This series will start with analog processes such as lithography, screen printing, pad printing, and gravure. Some of the digital processes to be covered include toner-based printing, production inkjet, wide-format, and grand-format inkjet, dye sublimation, direct-to-garment, textile, direct-to-object, functional printing, and commercial 3D printing.

Once we have covered the basics of different types of printing, we will develop a series of posts that discuss how to price for different types of printing.To learn when each post is published, subscribe to our blog or newsletter. Or, follow Ordant on Twitter or LinkedIn. If you have questions you would like to see us address, please let us know.