Not all printers that claim to print “green” are created equal. A. Maciel Printing began using ecologically-sound offset printing practices 25 years ago, long before it was fashionable.
Offset printing offers quality and versatility that is unrivaled by all other printing techniques available. And now, thanks to modern technology, it has become much more affordable and environmentally friendly (link to environmental benefits). Offset printing is ideal for producing postcards, business cards, brochures, newsletters, and any other kind of printed informational or promotional material.
Of course, some jobs are too small for offset printing. Not to worry. We also offer environmentally-sound digital printing for your smaller projects.
A. Maciel’s offset printing advantages
We use state-of-the-art equipment and eco-friendly products to create printed materials that are high-quality and good for the planet.
- SHARP, CLEAN IMAGES AND TYPE. Unlike letterpress printing, offset printing uses a rubber blanket that conforms to the texture of the printing surface for rich, stunning results.
- GREEN EQUIPMENT. Our press uses less than half the electricity used by presses of similar capabilities of just a couple years ago. It also uses closed cassettes for roller and blanket washing. The result? Less polluting washes and emission of fewer harmful VOCs into the air.
- QUICK AND EASY PRODUCTION OF NON-POLLUTING PRINTING PLATES. Our computer-to-plate system (Kodak/Creo Magnus 400) produces chemistry-free metal plates that use a super-fine, laser-direct process to “burn” a first-generation image onto the plate, eliminating the use of film negatives—and the emission of highly-polluting silver nitrate residue. This technology allows us to print 200 line screens on all our work and to maintain a higher image retention than conventional methods. Furthermore, the plates are recycled after use.
- RECYCLED PAPERS. We use coated and uncoated papers with the highest post-consumer recycled content on the market. We participate in the Stocking Printer Program of New Leaf Paper (link to New Leaf?), a San Francisco-based company: We help New Leaf with their warehousing, and they give us discounts, which we pass on to you.
- NON-TOXIC INKS AND VARNISHES. For many years, we have printed exclusively with soy-based inks, most of which are manufactured by Western Printing Ink (link?), a local company. We also use soy-based varnishes instead of highly-polluting UV coatings, which are essentially nothing more than diluted floor wax.
- INCREASED MONEY SAVINGS ON LONGER PRESS RUNS. Most of the expense goes into the initial preparation of the plate. So the more you print, the less you pay per impression. (Offset plates last longer than direct litho presses, creating tens of thousands impressions.)
- CUSTOM QUOTES. Your project is unique, so we don’t take a cookie-cutter approach to pricing. Instead, we will quickly custom quote your job based on your specific needs. That means we give you an accurate quote rather than just a vague estimate.
Offset Printing 101
The basic concept behind offset printing—in which an inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface—goes back into the ages.
The ancient Aztecs, Mayas, and other Meso-American cultures used cylindrical ceramic stamps to imprint cloth and amate paper to imprint body decorations and clay items. Similar stamps are plentiful in archaeological digs in Mesopotamia. Woodblock printing was developed in ancient Japan and has been practiced in Asia for thousands of years. Meanwhile, both India and Egypt developed their own techniques for printing on cloth.
In the 15th century, Johannes Gutenberg, a German goldsmith and printer, developed movable type printing and the mechanical printing press, allowing him to create printed works with high aesthetic and technical quality. This made books widely available and eventually led to the development of offset printing.
When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs metal plates on which the image to be printed obtains ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film (called “fountain solution”), keeping the non-printing areas ink-free. It’s likely that Ira Washington Rubel was the first to print paper in an offset press in 1903. He discovered that if he transferred an image directly onto the press’s rubber impression cylinder—rather than onto the hard stone litho plate—he could get a sharper look, so he created a machine that did just that.
Meanwhile, two brothers named Albert and Charles Harris had made the same discovery and founded Harris Automatic Press Company. Their machine had a cylinder wrapped with a metal plate that was pressed against ink and water rollers. Just below the metal plate cylinder was a blanket cylinder. Below that was an impression cylinder, which fed the paper against the blanket cylinder to transfer the image.
Over the years, modern innovations—such as two-sided printing, process color, and better paper, inks, and plates—improved offset printing.
Modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems, as opposed to the older computer-to-film workflows, which further increases quality and productivity.