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How Do I Choose the Best Color Printing Process?

By Alex Newth
Updated May 17, 2024
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The color printing process is important for many reasons, both for businesses and consumers, and choosing the right process and machine will help users perform color printing without excess work or expense. Some color printing machines are much harder to use than others, so ease of use should be considered. Depending on what color printing process users select, the color vibrancy may be different. Users should think about how many prints they need per month, because some processes are better suited for a large number of prints, while some are better for occasional printing. Thermography also may be important, especially for users that print business cards.

Color printing is not always easy. For example, while an inkjet machine can make color prints with the touch of a button, an offset color printer requires mixing inks, preparing plates, placing the plates on cylinders and testing the prints several times before the machine is ready. This means the user’s printing knowledge should be considered when selecting a color printing process. If the user cannot operate the machine but needs that particular type because of required print frequency or color vibrancy, then more knowledgeable people may have to be hired to operate the machine.

Vibrancy, or how brilliant the color is, normally will differ among the various color printing processes. Offset printers often print very vibrant colors while inkjet and laser printers usually are just below that and the engraving color process normally creates the most vibrant prints. While a high level of vibrancy may be needed for some commercial entities, this normally increases the price and difficulty of the process, so the user should consider how much vibrancy really matters when selecting a process.

Another consideration is how many prints the color printing process has to produce each month. For example, an inkjet printer normally is made for small to medium print quantities, and printing beyond this limit can quickly cause the inkjet printer’s parts to wear. A higher monthly quantity also makes the process more expensive to use.

The color printing process normally only makes flat prints; the ink may sometimes feel slightly raised, but not by much. Some commercial entities, and some regular consumers, may require thermography printing for business cards and similar materials. By using heat and polymers, the colored ink significantly rises from the paper. If this feature is not needed then the user should not seek it out because, aside from increasing price, it typically makes the printer larger.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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