Following on from our post on eco conscious papers, we wanted to explain and clarify what types of printing is commercially available for those who would prefer to have their DIY wedding invitations professionally printed.
There are a number of different methods of printing to give you different looks and results for your wedding invitations.
1) Ink Jet printing – Most home printers are inkjet printers. They have ink cartridges and will print very nicely on a good range of papers from slightly textured to very smooth. The ink is applied to the paper and then dried with heat before output. The biggest issue with most home inkjet printers is that they can’t take very thick papers, so may leave your wedding invitation feeling thinner than you would like. If this is your situation, you can attach the invitation to a card or backing board to provide additional texture and strength.
Commercial grade inkjet printers are used for large format printing like posters, canvas banners and signage. Some can even print on carpet! So, if you are having problems getting the results you are looking for on your home printer, talk to your local printer as they may have the machinery to achieve the look you are after.
2) Laser printing – Laser printers used to be very expensive and only available for businesses or printing companies. However as technology has increased, the costs have come down and they are now more common place in homes. Laser printers use toner (think photocopiers), which is a powder instead of ink. Again, it is sealed with heat as it comes through the printer. The difficulties with laser printers at the lower end of the pricing scale is that often they don’t look quite as good when printing a wide range of colours, or detailed images. The other limitation is that toner doesn’t fuse as well to textured paper, which can mean your print out looks patchy or worse still, the toner can be brushed off with your hand (making a mess!). Again, this is solved as the cost of the machines goes up and most professional printing companies will have high spec machines that can print on thicker stocks, some textured stocks and at a much higher speed than an inkjet printer.
Most short run printing done by your local printing company will be done on a laser printer (they may call them a digital printer).
3) Offset / Lithographic printing – This is the traditional way of printing. The printing press is set up with inks and each colour of ink has a corresponding metal plate created. They are built for high quality and high volume. For this reason, they are often not used for printing invitations unless you are printing thousands of them, or want the top of the line in quality reproduction. Offset printing is expensive due to the setup time required to get the machine up and running.
4) Letterpress – This old-school method of printing has made a real come-back in the last few years. It uses a traditional one or two colour printing press and also embosses the card to add texture and dimension. It is a really incredible finish, but a rather manual and time-consuming form of printing, which often means it is fairly expensive. You will need to have a fairly simple design in only a few solid colours for your invitation, to use this process.
When considering which method of printing you’d prefer, you need to think about the style of your invitations design, your paper choice and which type of printing will give you the best result.
Working with your professional printing company will ensure that your invitation design is complimented by the printing method, giving you the very best results.