What are offset printing plates?

placas para impresión offset

One of the most important elements in offset printing is the printing plates or plates, without them, the process could not be carried out effectively.

For that reason, today we will learn much more about offset printing plates and how they influence the printing process.

What is an offset printing plate?

The first thing we must know is the answer to the question What are offset printing plates?

Those of you who already know the printing process a little bit surely have an idea about printing plates and what their functionality is in the process.

The plates for offset printing have a key function so that we can print on the different materials and forms of offset printing.

They are plates of different materials in which the ink is applied and pressed to the printing cylinder, then the cylinder will press the paper or material used to obtain the desired impression.

As you can see, these plates are clearly important in the printing process and without them it could not be done.

Depending on the process, type of printing and the objectives we have, we can find different types of offset printing plates that we will know below.

What types of offset printing plates are there today?

In general, three types of plates for offset printing could be known: gravure, aluminum and lithographic plates, let’s know a little more about each of them.

Gravure plates or plates

Usually the intaglio plates are those that are used to obtain higher quality prints and that recreate the images closer to reality.

It is important to mention that for the use of these types of plates for offset printing it is necessary:

  1. the use of specialized inks
  2. and some modifications in the process to achieve excellent results in the final impression.

These types of plates are used mainly in the production of newspapers and other graphic products that require great attention to detail when printing.

Lithographic plates

Lithographic plates have a very interesting purpose and it is to facilitate the printing process and that in the areas that we do not want the ink to approach, it can be naturally repelled with the use of water.

And it is that lithographic plates repel water, therefore, a kind of water film can form on the areas that we do not want to be printed.

They are also widely used plates thanks to this advantage that they offer to those who decide to print in offset.

Metal plates

Finally, we come to metal plates for offset printing.

In this case, we will only talk about aluminum plates since they are the most common and the ones that best adapt to the offset printing process.

Aluminum plates are the most used when printing offset.

This is because it is an extremely resistant material and you will not have problems when receiving different types of treatments that can be useful when making any impression.

On the other hand, it does not have any side effects when it comes to being related to the chemicals used in the process and it is a fairly easy material to mold.

Digital plates

Digital offset printing plates have not been around for a long time and it is for that reason that they are quite unknown.

Despite this, digital offset printing is expected to take over the market in the coming years, therefore it is good to know about this type of plate.

This type of plates can be separated into three different categories that are:

  1. heat sensitive plates
  2. light sensitive plates
  3. and plates that do not involve any processing.

In the case of heat-sensitive plates, they are known as the most used and the ones that offer the best advantages today.

They have a long life and are sensitive to UV light, so they can be used without problem in this process that uses UV inks.

One of its advantages is that it perfectly maintains the image and the replica without problems.

Light sensitive plates are sensitive to different types of light, such as green, purple, red or blue light. One of their disadvantages is that they must be chemically treated in order to be used in the printing process.

Finally, plates that do not require chemical processing work with different layers that work to replicate the image on paper (or other materials).

Of course, to use these plates, some type of system must be used to clean the residues that remain.

How much can offset printing plates cost?

As you can see, the cost of offset printing plates clearly depends on the type of plate we decide to use when printing.

It is also important to understand that the cost of the material or the plate must be added to the cost of the process that must be carried out to prepare that plate so that it is adapted to the printing.

It is for this reason that many times a type of iron is cheaper in its initial price, but that when taking accounts in preparation and all these previous processes the cost of it may increase.

What are we trying to get to with this? Simply because it is important that when evaluating the prices and costs of the plates to be used, they take into account not only the initial investment, but also look at how much the preparation of the plates may cost them so that they can be used in the process.

For the reasons stated above we could not recommend one plate or another.

We can give you information so that you can make a decision based on what you need and your budget.

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