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Understanding Printing Technologies: CMYK, PMS, and More

Understanding Printing Technologies: CMYK, PMS, and More


Article provided by UNIPRINT QLD.

You may have heard the terms CMYK full colour or PMS spot colour. Read on while I explain the differences between the two, plus the benefits and disadvantages of different printing technology commonly used in the printing industry.

There are many different types of printing methods and technology, most of which are more suitable for a certain variety of product or scenario. I have compiled a brief explanation of the different printing technologies available, to help you understand which option may have been used to print your business stationary and marketing material.

What is Offset Printing?

The relationship between off set printing and digital printing could be compared to the vinyl record and CD or DVD. Offset printing uses ‘analogue technology’ (plates and blankets), but produces a higher resolution print and a much faster sheet rate than a digital press.

Set up costs for offset printing is higher than digital printing, but run on costs (cost per sheet) are a lot lower. This traditional printing style is commonly used to manufacture a range of products such as business cards, flyers, magnets, stickers, brochures, duplicate invoice books, letterheads - generally in run sizes of 500 sheets +

What does CMYK mean?

CMYK full colour is a variety of offset printing that creates colours and images using the CMYK colour spectrum. This technique combines different percentages of Cyan, magenta, Yellow & Black to create any colour. This means that you can have many different colours or images in your artwork for a fixed price.

This process also allows printers to ‘aggregate’ a number of different jobs that will printed at the same time, on a larger sheet of common stock. The advent of aggregated printing has driven down the price of full colour printing in recent years, especially for business cards, letterheads, flyers, posters, brochures, magnets, stickers, note pads etc.

Like anything there are some drawbacks to CMYK full colour – such as the possibility of slight variation of colour between runs and the inability to create certain colours such as metallic gold and silver. To overcome these obstacles, spot colour or PMS printing can sometimes be an option.

Do I need PMS spot colours on my Business Stationary?

That depends on your artwork – CMYK is fine for most designs, but certain colours will require PMS spot colour instead.

Spot colour PMS printing is another variation of offset printing. In some ways PMS is simpler than CMYK – PMS projects will generally be run on a 1 or 2 colour press using a specific colour of ink for each run. This means that the press must be ‘washed down’ between each different run and full colour images are not possible.

Despite its own limitations, PMS printing has stayed relevant due to the limitations of CMYK full colour printing – such as slight colour variation and the inability to colour match. Although more expensive in most cases, PMS or ‘Spot colour’ is the most suitable option when exact colour matching is a priority.

This method is commonly used to print business stationary and marketing material for large corporations who are very conscious of colour consistency.

When do we print using a Digital Printer?

Digital Printing is one of the more recent of print technologies available to the market. Digital Printing is a great option for small runs and extremely fast turnaround time. The set up costs are much lower than offset printing, but the run on cost (cost per sheet) is higher. Print resolution is traditionally not quite as good as offset printing, and some colours cannot be achieved because the colour spectrum is CMYK.

This technology is commonly used to print small runs or urgent jobs. Flyers, Post Cards, Drop Cards, Business Cards, Brochures, Stickers, Labels, posters etc.

Printing Signage with the Flat Bed printer

This is another variation of digital printing that can print on to any flat surface and is often used to manufacture signage on PVC Board, corflute etc. This extremely versatile process can also be used to create custom point of sale displays, print doors edge to edge, surfboards, checker plate etc.

Printing Banners - Wide Format Digital Printing

Wide format is another type of digital printing that prints onto rolls of medium such as vinyl , canvas etc. This machinery also utilises CMYK technology, and is often used to print Banners, Posters, Vinyl Stickers, Vehicle Signage, Signage etc.

Hopefully these explanations can help you to understand the ‘lingo’ on your next print quote. If you are still unsure, I would recommend calling your local printers for a chat – this is also a great way to gage their level of customer service.

Article provided by UNIPRINT QLD.




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Understanding Printing Technologies: CMYK, PMS, and More

Article provided by UNIPRINT QLD. You may have heard the terms CMYK full colour or PMS spot colour.

Read More