A Beginners Guide to Web Offset Printers

A Beginners Guide to Web Offset Printers


We’ve produced a 2 minute guide to web offset printing before, explaining how the process works. Here, we take a look at web offset from a product perspective. What sort of products can be produced at a web offset printers? It’s a key question because, as you may (or may not!) know, placing your job at the wrong printer will result in a less efficient production and a higher cost.

Web offset printers are suited to fast turnaround of high quality print where large print-runs are involved. Web offset presses can print several million A4 full colour sheets per hour with a wide range of finishing options available – many printers offering them inline (i.e. not as a separate ‘bolted on’ process). So if your project is high volume and needed quickly and it’s not too specialist (needing thicker papers or a special process for example) then web offset might be the printing process you need for your project.

web of paper passing through press

Web of paper being fed through a 48 page web offset press

Web offset printers are great at producing high volume, high quality magazines. If you’re looking to print over around 10-20,000 magazines, and have a demanding delivery schedule to keep, then web offset will probably be the right solution as it’s fast, printing straight to the web of paper as it’s fed into the press. Many web offset printers also have processes for ensuring colour reproduction (often ISO certified colour standards) and many comply with PEFC/FSC and or ISO 14001 environmental standards if you need to ensure brand or corporate environmental guidelines are adhered to.

Brochures & Catalogues
Similarly, larger volumes of brochures and catalogues are well suited to web offset printers. However the point at which to go web offset or use another process isn’t always clear and is dependant on a variety of factors such as length of run, paper weight, inks to be used – and even finishing required. If you’re not sure, it’s worth getting independent advice.

Finishing options are extensive. A definition and information on some typical finishing options can be found here.

Direct Mail
Web offset printers are often used to produce the ‘base’ direct mail print work, which is then over-printed with further personal information for each customer. Printing larger quantities web offset reduces the cost for the majority of the print, leaving the personalisation information to be printed digitally. Doing the whole project digitally would, in many cases, be prohibitively expensive for larger direct mail printing runs.

Finishing options for the direct mail piece are extensive too and include the use of a variety inks such as coin-reactive, metallic and thermochromic inks; varnishes; remoist glue application and die cutting or pattern perforation.

Other types of print project can be run web offset, but again as long as they are of sufficient quantity to cover the press setup (make ready) costs and the wastage that occurs when getting a web of paper up to speed on the press.

If you’d like to speak to an independent print consultant to find out more about web offset printing or to see if you can save money using the process, contact us here.