Offset printing keeps repeating history says Colourtone Aries

Offset printing remains a popular printing technique and has been for more than a century. Printing and packaging powerhouse, Colourtone Aries in the Western Cape, says that offset printing techniques have developed significantly since it first captured the imaginations of the corporate world. Today, offset printers combine digital technology with traditional printing methods to provide unmatched quality and speed.

Ryan Bywater, sales manager at Colourtone Aries, says, “Lithography was created to be an inexpensive method of transferring artwork but it was limited in application as it was used on flat, porous surfaces with printing plates made from limestone. This is where the term lithography originates as it means “an image from stone”. While the essence of this technique is still with us today, the strides made in technology has transformed printing methodologies so much that modern offset printing techniques provide more accuracy, quality, speed and cost effectiveness.”

Offset printing is still preferred for large runs where the image is offset (transferred) from a plate to a rubber blanket and finally onto the paper stock. The process still combines techniques based on oil and water repulsion. Offset technology uses a planographic or flat image carrier on which the image, to be transferred, attracts ink while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film that repels ink.

In the past century, this technique has evolved significantly. Modern technology and offset printers have astounded printers worldwide. Offset printing is still preferred, especially for newspapers, brochures and magazines.

Ryan says, “Economically, this printing method is very cost-effective. It is also one of the most accurate methods in terms of image quality and, with the latest in printing technology, can provide vastly improved turnaround times.”

Colourtone Aries’ new Heidelberg XL105 offset press is the first of its kind in the Western Cape and only the second one in South Africa. This press sets the standard in modern printing. The advantages for clients are endless:

· High quality. Offset printing still provides the best and most consistent quality in large runs. Quality in the modern era is by far, more impressive than ever before.

· Fast delivery. Make ready times and a rapid output ensure that jobs are turned over quicker. With the time demands placed on printers today, especially with the advances made in digital printing technology, newer offset technology does offer vastly improved productive output.

· Improved productivity. With improvements made in newer technology and far greater control in quality from modern machinery, productivity can be improved on the factory floor. This in turn results in a far more cost-effective solution to the client.

· Reduced waste. Traditionally, offset printing meant lengthy set up procedures with numerous sheets being wasted as printers tested output until the perfect result was achieved. Newer technology has significantly improved output quality reducing the need for numerous test runs before achieving the desired quality.

A critical process in offset printing is pre-press production. It is vital that all files are accurately processed when preparing for print. Converting to the right colour model (CMYK) plus any additional spot colours is crucial to achieve the desired consistency and quality for each colour to be run on the press.

Ryan continues, “Offset printing remains a preferred method of printing today, largely due to all the advantages it offers clients. Technology is moving at a rapid pace across all industries and none more so than the printing industry. By staying on top of technology trends, we are able to continually provide our clients with cutting-edge products that are, to a large degree, as flexible as design thought itself.”

Offset printing has evolved significantly in the last century, and continues to do so. Printers keeping pace with the rapid advances made in technology will remain ahead of the pack as clients seek to differentiate themselves with ultra-modern solutions to their printing and packaging demands.

While printing methodologies are evolving at a rapid rate, techniques are still based on historical and time-tested standards.

Colourtone Aries can be contacted on 021 929 6700, or visit

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