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Adtec Explains…. the difference between digital printing & lithography

10/10/2011 1 comment

digital printing

We thought we’d talk about two services that we offer – digital printing and lithographic printing – and the difference between the two of them.

Litho printing, also know as Offset printing works on the basic principle that oil and water do not mix. Lithography was patented in 1799. A flat stone was treated in a manner so that the image areas attract the oil-based inks and the non-image wet areas repel the oil-based inks. When the stone was pressed against the surface to be printed on, the oily inked image areas left an imprint of the desired design. In 1903 a new era of litho printing emerged, which used photographic metal plates and a three roller offset press.
Nowadays the ability to produce plates digitally has made the job considerably quicker, and modern computer controlled presses can speed up the process of colour control and getting plates into accurate register. However, this setting-up process is still quite expensive when compared to digital printing. The inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket. Then the image is transferred to the printing surface. The flat image on the plate carries the oil based ink from the ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film (“fountain solution”), keeping the non-printing area ink-free. The inked areas built up to the final print result.

Digital printing is a four process colour reproduction method that uses electronic files and dots to produce an image using ink and toner. It is basically a ‘print straight from disk’ process. The computer works in sync with a digital printer to produce a smoothly finished image. Unlike litho printing, no printing plates are required. There is less waste of chemicals and paper, because there are no need to check colour levels and to check for registration and position.

Advantages of Digital Printing
– It is cost effective for small print runs, because there is less initial setup involved
– From digital printing, digital machines can do finishing such as creasing and folding, perforation and/or stapling
– Individual sheets can also be personalised as they are printed with a sequential number, name or address

Disadvantage of Digital Printing
– It has no UV protection film coating. This means that the prints are not fully protected from environmental effects such as heat or moisture. This can be solved through laminating or encapsulating
– Litho printing produce better tints, gradients and large solid areas of colour
– Digitally printed materials can be ‘overprinted’ if put through a photocopier or a laser printer repeatedly the toner can re-melt

Really litho printing vs. digital printing is a question of which fits the needs of your job best!

You can read more about the print services we offer here.
If you’d like to talk to us about a print job please call +44 (0)20 7837 6714 or email and we will do our best to solve your problem.

A brief history of… printing

12/09/2011 1 comment

printing press engraving

We thought we’d talk about the history of printing. It’s quite amazing to see how far we’ve come – the image above is of a printing press that was invented in 1846! As you might’ve guessed though there is A LOT to talk about, so we decided to break it down into this handy timeline. Click through the blue links to read more about each process on wikipedia.

618 to 906: T’ang Dynasty – the first printing is done in China using ink on carved wooden blocks begins to make multiple transfers of an image to paper.

868: The Diamond Sutra is printed.

1241: Koreans print books using movable type.

1300: The first use of wooden type in China.

1309: Europeans first make paper. However, the Chinese and Egyptians had started making paper centuries previous.

1338: First papermill opened in France.

1390: First papermill opened in Germany.

1392: Foundries that can produce bronze type are opened in Korea.

1423: In Europe block printing is used to print books.

1452: In Europe, metal plates are first used in printing. Gutenberg begins printing the Bible which he finishes in 1456.

1457: First color printing by Fust and Schoeffer.

1465: Drypoint engravings invented by Germans.

1476: William Caxton begins using a Gutenberg printing press in England.

1477: Intaglio is first used for book illustration for a Flemish book called Il Monte Sancto di Dio.

1495: First papermill opened in England.

1501: Italic type first used.

1550: Wallpaper introduced in Europe.

1605: First weekly newspaper published in Antwerp.

1611: King James Bible published.

1660: Mezzotint invented in Germany.

1691: First papermill opened in the American colonies.

1702: Multi-colored engraving invented by German Jakob Le Blon. The first English language daily newspaper is published called the Daily Courant.

1725: In Scotland stereotyping invented by William Ged.

1800: Iron printing presses invented.

1819: Rotary printing press invented by Napier.

1829: Embossed printing invented by Louis Braille.

1841: Type-composing machine invented.

1844: Electrotyping invented.

1846: Cylinder press invented by Richard Hoe. Cylinder press can print 8,000 sheets an hour.

1863: Rotary web-fed letterpress invented by William Bullock.

1865: Web offset press can print on both sides of paper at once.

1886: Linotype composing machine invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler.

1870: Paper is now mass-manufactured from wood pulp.

1878: Photogravure printing invented by Karl Klic.

1890: Mimeograph machine introduced.

1891: Printing presses can now print and fold 90,000 4-page papers an hour. Diazotype invented (print photographs on fabric).

1892: 4-color rotary press invented.

1904: Offset lithography becomes common. The first comic book is published.

1907: Commercial silk screening invented.

1947: Phototypesetting made practical

Today: Currently most books and newspapers are printed using the technique of offset lithography. Believe it or not digital printing only accounts for 9% of all the pages printed in the world!

Keep checking back for our next Adtec explains article where we talk about the difference between digital printing and lithography.

Interested in having some print work of your own done? Click here to see what we can do for you!

Adtec explains…sustainable packaging & how it is being developed

26/08/2011 1 comment

heap of garbage

Sustainable packaging is the development, production and use of packaging that has a reduced impact on the environment while still meeting functional and economic needs.

As the population has grown, demands on packaging are greater than ever – According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, packaging the world over accounts for roughly one-third of commercial and municipal waste. The packaging industry has started to react to issues that were never even considered in the past. The main concerns being looked at are; the energy required to produce and transport packaging, the pollution created during production, and what to do with the packaging once it has performed its function.

Here are some recent sustainable packaging developments that we thought were noteworthy!

Corn starch
PUMA are one company that have completely embraced this new technology. They have replaced all their plastic shopping bags with ones composed entirely of cornstarch. The bags decompose naturally within a three-month period or the customer can put the bag in hot water and it will dissolve in three minutes!

PepsiCo have created a new bottle – set to go into production in 2012 – which will be the world’s first petroleum free plastic bottle. PepsiCo will use raw materials and by-products from its food businesses to create a molecular structure that is identical to PETE.

Allied Bakeries have announced they will be introducing 100% recycled packaging for their smaller loaves. The new packaging will be made using clean off-cuts from the bread bag making process!

Petroleum alternatives
A team at the Agricultural Research Service are looking into using dairy-based materials as an alternative to petroleum-based packaging. Instead of being made from synthetic polymers they are composed of proteins such as casein and whey which are found in milk.

The future…
Research is being conducted into uses for coconut husks. Two American based companies have recently partnered to design and test a composite material created by combining coconut fibre with thermoplastic. They say the new material is strong, stiff and better for forming shapes than other natural fibre composites while retaining its naturally biodegradable properties.

Article sourced from wikipedia.

Here at Adtec we care about the environment, which is why we’re reducing our Carbon Footprint. Carbon Smart has reviewed our data and carbon performance and we are delighted to say that we have achieved their Blue Award! The award demonstrates our commitment to the environment by measuring our carbon emissions and putting in place an action plan and policy to reduce their impact – our first step to achieving ISO 14001:2004 accreditation.

A brief history of… packaging

14/08/2011 Leave a comment

different types of packaging on a table

If you are a regular visitor to the blog you might have noticed that we often feature packaging on ‘design of the week’.

Packaging is something we really take for granted so we thought it’d be nice to talk about the key moments in packaging history…

The common definition says that packaging is the technology, science and art of enclosing products for protection, transportation, storage and use. The history of packaging dates back to ancient times when natural materials such as leaves from trees, woven baskets and animal skins were used to store food. Examples of terracotta vessels that would have been used to carry liquids have been found that date back to 3000-1500 BCE. By 1200 BCE Ancient Egyptians were pressing molten glass into moulds to create jars of all kinds.

The study of old packaging is an important aspect of archaeology – a lot of the vessels from previous civilisations look more like works of art to us than everyday items. These are the predecessors to our current packaging and containers! Technical innovations were few and far between but the collections of ceramic and blown glass which fill our museums today show the extent to which everyday containers had become indispensable tools for our ancestors.

The earliest recorded use of paper as a packaging material dates back to 1035 when a Persian traveller visiting the markets of Cairo noted that vegetables, spices and hardware were wrapped in paper for the customers after they were sold.
By the Middle Ages wooden barrels had become the most common way of preserving and transporting food. They could be used for both solids and liquids. Their robustness meant they could survive the perilous transportation of the age.

During the Industrial Revolution in Europe the need for new types of packaging grew. Trade routes flourished and a vast range of new products were suddenly available to consumers. In 1764 tobacconists in London started selling snuff in metal tins but no-one was willing to use metal to package food as it was considered dangerous. In 1809 General Napoleon Bonaparte offered 12,000 francs to anyone who could preserve food for his army. Nicholas Appert, a Parisian chef and confectioner, found that food sealed in containers and sterilized by boiling could be preserved for long periods. One year later Peter Durand of Britain received the first patent for the idea of preserving food using tin can.

By the early 1900s, wooden crates and boxes were being replaced by corrugated paper shipping cartons due to their ease of use and low cost. Today ‘cardboard boxes’ are used almost universally for shipping products around the world!
In the early 1920s, the invention of transparent cellophane marked the beginning of the era of plastic. Bakelite followed soon after and was one of the first plastics made from synthetic components.

Since the 1920s a large number of technical innovations have led to the continued improvement of packaging. The 1940s brought the development of packaging for frozen food. Aerosol cans were introduced to the mass market in 1952. Aluminium drinks cans became popular in the 1960s and the soft drinks market exploded. Aseptic cartons were invented in 1961 and have been used for preserving long life milk ever since.

Today one of the most commonly used plastics is polyethylene terephthalate (PETE). This material only became available for containers during the last two decades after entering the market in 1977 as beverage packaging.
As people have become more conscious of the environment current packaging designers are constantly looking for new sustainable products to use and different ways of using recycled materials. One example of this is a new bottle from PepsiCo which will go into production in 2012. It will be the world’s first petroleum-free plastic bottle! PepsiCo will use raw materials and by-products from its food businesses to create a molecular structure that is identical to PETE.

We regularly supply prototype mailer packs, presentation boxes, POP and POS units, CD and DVD disk packaging and retail gift boxes. Working from your ideas we will agree the best way to create either a white dummy or a fully printed and finished package. On completion we will supply cad drawing, cutter-guide and print-ready artwork for further production requirements.

If you require something like this please call +44 (0)20 7837 6714 or email and we will do our best to solve your problem.

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