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Dry vs Wet Offset Printing

Updated: Feb 21

Printing is fundamental in creating materials like books, brochures, magazines, and packaging. Yet, there are different types of printing. Here we’ll explain dry vs wet offset printing to help you find the best method for your project. Both printing methods have advantages, and knowing the difference is important in choosing your desired printing method.


Let’s dive in!


Dry vs Wet Offset Printing
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: zefart

Dry vs Wet Offset Printing


As high-quality and recognized offset printing service providers, we have experience with dry and wet offset printing.


The main difference between dry and wet offset printing is water use. In wet offset printing, a water-based solution is used to keep the non-image areas of the printing plate moist, preventing ink from adhering to these areas. This makes sure that only the image areas receive ink and are transferred to the material that should be printed.


In dry offset printing, on the other hand, water is not used. The inked image is transferred directly from the plate cylinder to the material without the need for a water-based solution.


Dry printing


Dry printing, also known as dry offset printing, direct transfer printing, or waterless printing, is a printing method that does not require water. Instead of water, the parts where the image should not be transferred are covered with silicone that is incompatible with greasy ink. This requires special plates that are made from polymer and covered with silicone. 


The process


The process involves cylindrical offset equipment, which includes a plate cylinder, a blanket cylinder, and an impression cylinder. The plate cylinder holds the printing plate, which consists of the image transferred onto a metal or plastic surface. The plate is inked, and non-image areas are treated to repel ink.


As the plate cylinder rotates, it picks up the ink and transfers it to the blanket cylinder. The blanket cylinder has a rubber blanket on its surface that receives the ink from the plate cylinder. The materials that should be printed touch the blanket cylinder, and the ink is transferred onto the material.


Advantages


Dry printing is beneficial because it allows high-quality printing on many surfaces, like metal, plastic, and paper. The image quality is sharp, and the colors are vibrant. Dry printing is also cost-effective for short print runs, making it suitable for small projects.


Wet offset printing


Wet offset printing is also known as offset lithography. It is a classic and common form of indirect printing.


The process


The offset printing process begins with a printing plate, which is placed onto the plate cylinder. The plate is treated to attract ink to the image areas and repel ink from the non-image areas. As the plate cylinder rotates, it picks up ink from the ink fountain. The ink is then transferred to the blanket cylinder, which has a rubber blanket on its surface.


The material that should be printed is placed against the blanket cylinder. The inked image is transferred from the blanket cylinder onto the material. This process is called offsetting.


Advantages


Wet offset printing has several advantages over dry printing. For instance, it is suitable for high-volume printing projects because it allows better speed and larger print runs. Offset printing also enables using a wider range of materials, including fabric, many paper stocks, and cardboard. Finally, it allows more precise color control.


Dry and Wet Offset Printing
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Yasin Caglayan

Conclusion

The comparison of dry vs wet offset printing shows that both techniques are efficient and widely used in the printing industry. 


Dry printing provides high-quality prints on various surfaces, and it is cost-effective for short runs.


Wet offset printing is suitable for bigger projects because it is fast and suitable for different materials.

You can decide which option you need based on your project.


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