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What Materials Are Used in Commercial Printing?

Updated: Feb 23

Commercial printing involves using different materials, equipment, and types of printing. So, what materials are used in commercial printing?

As a constantly evolving industry, commercial printing often adapts to new methods and innovations in production. This means that companies use several methods and various equipment to produce their prints.

So, let's dive in and explore the materials used in commercial printing!

Commercial Printing- Materials
Source: Photo Contributor: Lemonsoup14

What Materials Are Used in Commercial Printing?

Being successful in the commercial printing industry means investing in proper equipment and materials. As a printing company dedicated to providing our consumers only with the highest-quality service, CityPress uses the latest printing materials.

Companies offering commercial printing services use the following materials:

  • Printing Press Machine

  • Printing Press Ink

  • Cutting System

  • Computer and Graphic Design Software

  • Binding Equipment

Printing press machine (printers)

The most important equipment a commercial printing company needs is printers. There are different types of printers depending on the commercial printing process involved. Commercial printing utilizes the following types of printing press machines:

  • Offset printing presses

  • Digital printers

  • Large format printer

With the appropriate printers, commercial printing companies offer high-quality printed products to their consumers. Because commercial printing is done on a larger scale, it requires specialized ink and paper.

Printing press ink

To achieve high-quality printed material, printing companies must use quality press ink. With innovations in commercial printing being introduced more often, several printing press inks exist today.

The printing press ink used includes offset, digital, and liquid inks for packaging. Here at CityPress, we specialize in quality color work, including:

  • One to six colors

  • PMS process

  • Flood coats

  • Special varnishes

Offset inks

Offset inks were the first significant invention in commercial printing, replacing letterpress ink. Offset ink presses significantly streamlined the printing process. There are three main types of offset inks: sheetfed, headset, and cold-set.

Sheeted inks are present in magazines and reports, and since the sheets are put into the press, they can be thicker substrates, allowing for the production of folding cartons. Sheetfed presses can run up to 20,000 sheets per hour.

Cold-set inks are the primary inks for newspapers, consisting of carbon black and binders. But cold-set inks also include color pigments when needed. On the other hand, headset inks are the main ones for magazines and are similar to cold-set inks.

Offset inks are usually oil-based and require drying after printing. But, companies are shifting towards renewable resources like linseed oil or soy-based inks. This is due to the increased demand for sustainability.

Digital inks

With digital printing as the fastest-growing sector, digital inks have become highly sought-after. Digital inks can be used in digital and hybrid presses. There is a range of digital ink colorants available for digital printing.

Even though dyes were initially used for most digital printing, pigments are more common today due to their lightfastness.

Liquid inks for packaging

In commercial printing, we also use inks in packaging. Dominant technology for packaging is liquid inks, mainly flexo and gravure inks. Both flexo and gravure are roll-to-roll presses. Depending on the application, liquid inks can cover water-based, solvent-based, and UV-based technologies.

The resin type and additives are the main differences between liquid and paste (offset) inks. There are many resin types including, acrylic, polyamine, and nitrocellulose, which are among the most commonly used. In contrast, paste inks incorporate hydrocarbon resins.

Cutting system

Printing companies use sheets in the printing process, which means there will be lots of cutting included. But, due to the volume of work in commercial printing, manually cutting prints is not feasible.

This is why cutting systems are a must for printing companies. There are manual, semi-, and fully automatic cutters. Automatic cutters significantly increase the cutting speed and can be set to cut with incredible precision.

Cutting system
Source: Photo Contributor: zefart

Computer and graphic design software

Commercial printing requires the use of the latest updates in computer and graphic design software updates. Companies also need to use computers with powerful CPUs and graphics processing units.

We keep our print facilities on the cutting edge of digital technology. CityPress uses the latest Windows and Macintosh software and hardware configurations. We also incorporate digital computer-to-plate technology.

Binding equipment

Only some print shops offer binding, and most are outsourcing the printing work. We take pride in providing our consumers with every service involved in commercial printing, from start to finish.

Several types of binding equipment, including comb, wire, and thermal binders. With CityPress, consumers get:

  • Perfect binding

  • Plastic-coiling

  • Comb binding

Types of Commercial Printing

The type of equipment and materials used depends on how big the job is and the type of printing. There are several types of commercial printing.

Offset lithography

Offset lithography is an offset printing method used in commercial printing. Offset lithography is a cost-effective option for larger quantities of quality prints.

The offset printing process involves transferring inked images from a plate to a rubber blanket. After, the rubber blanket is transferred onto a printing surface. Equipment and materials used in offset printing include

  • Offset press

  • Printing press ink

  • Systems for dampening

  • Printing blanket

  • Printing powder

Digital printing

Digital printing is rapidly taking over the commercial printing industry. Digital printing is faster and easier than offset printing. Also, digital printing is ideal for variable data printing.

Digital printing allows replicating prints with incredible quality with digitally calibrated presses. While digital and offset printing may deliver similar results, the processes are different.

Equipment and materials involved in digital printing are the following:

  • Digital printer

  • Toner cartridge

  • Drum

  • Transfer belt

Large-format printing

Large-format printing, also known as wide-format printing, involves producing large pictures. Large-format printing makes it easy for businesses to attract attention to their brand or product.

For example, banners or billboards in heavily trafficked areas are large-format printing products. We offer consumers large-format prints whose quality only few can match.

We produce our large-format prints by combining the incredible precision of our print machines with the UltraChrome K3 technology.

Large-format printing
Source: Photo Contributor: Djavan Rodriguez

Final Word

If you wonder what materials are used in commercial printing, the answer depends on the type of printing a company does. Some companies specialize only in one type of printing, however, we strive to offer consumers many other printing services to cater to their needs.

There is offset, digital, and large-format printing. Generally, the materials involved in commercial printing include printers, ink, cutting systems, computer software, and binding equipment.

Steve Bates

Steve is the president of CityPress and brings a wealth of knowledge from the printing industry to readers, helping them make more informed decisions in an ever-changing printing space.


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