Printing Techniques: 7 printing methods explained!

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So – you’re looking to create some printed products, but you’re not sure what printing technique to use. At Avenue, we use plenty of printing techniques to ensure that our customers get the eye-catching, high-quality designs they’re looking for.

From large format printing to LED UV printing, there’s a right printing technique for every printing need.

So, what are all the different types of printing techniques, and what are they used for? Let’s take a look.

Offset Lithography

Offset lithography is the process most commonly used on longer-run printing jobs. Ie Newspapers, brochures and catalogues etc. Offset litho, or litho as its commonly referred to, is the most economic way of printing as it produces a sharp clean image at high speed. The process works by transferring an inked image from a metal plate onto a rubber blanket and then onto the paper. Typically, most print runs for brochures and catalogues over 1,000 will be manufactured as an offset litho job. The speed and the quality of the litho process is what sets it apart from other printing techniques.


Flexography is another printing technique that is typically used to produce printed products with consistent patterns or repetitive designs (such as wrapping paper or paper for redecorating.) Flexography uses semi-liquid ink and uses a rotating cylinder system.

Using photopolymer printing plates that rotate on their web press (in the form of cylinders), images and text are transferred onto paper. Flexography is also typically used to mass produce for label printing and packaging printing. 

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a contemporary printing technique which uses digital technology, rather than a printing plate, to produce printed items.

So, how does digital printing work? Put simply, digital printing works by receiving files sent electronically (usually via PDF.) Once the files are sent to the printing machine, the printer fulfils the order. Digital printing is one of the fastest and easiest ways to print, especially if you’re looking to fulfil a small order.

For larger orders or bulk orders, it’s more economic to use a printing plate, ire offset litho printing. Digital printing is often used for short run leaflet printing, menu printing as well as one-off items such as report printing or printing memos.

Large Format Printing

Large format printing refers to printing large, life-sized products (such as billboards, advertising boards, banners, murals and large, non-cylindrical wall paper.)

Large format printing allows you to go the extra mile when it comes to an advertisement or promoting your business in public. Large format printing allows you to prioritise your design over anything else, making it the ideal choice for stand-out adverts and other large designs.

Large format printing requires a large-scale printer and printing experts who can ensure that the given dimensions for your design will create an even image. Some large format printing machines can print straight onto a substrate; this can make it much more cost-effective on some jobs as the need to print onto paper and then mount onto the substrate is eliminated.

Screen Printing

Screen printing is when you print images onto an already existing fabric or substrate. Using mesh or another type of material, screen printing involves stretching the material to create a “screen”, onto which a new image is superimposed.

While screen printing is a great option for items such as t-shirts, it can be very expensive. The high cost of screen printing is linked to the lengthy production method: it takes time to stretch out material to place new images, so screen printing is best used for bulk orders, (where you’ll be using the same image for each item.)

3D Printing

Established in the 1980s, 3D printing enables users to create three-dimensional items via a printer, which can be easily bought today and used at home.

Typically used to produce small toys, promotional items, and other display items, 3D printing works by using digital model data and computer aided design (CAD) to layer materials and send laser signals to solidify the materials. The result? 3D products that might appear to have been manufactured by a machine, or in a factory.

While 3D printing is innovative as a concept, you’re pretty limited when it comes to design. You can’t print large items nor use all types of materials, although some innovative designers have been trying to 3D-print houses over in the USA. Perhaps the solution to the housing crisis?

LED UV printing is fast becoming the go-to printing technique for many businesses in the UK. Why? LED UV printing is easy, fast and comes with one major advantage point: you no longer have to wait for the ink to dry.

LED UV printing uses ultraviolet (UV) technology to dry the ink while it prints. This is referred to as ‘UV curing’ and makes it highly attractive as a printing technique, as there’s no worry about ink damaging the integrity of the final product.

LED UV printing can be used for many printed products: newsletters, brochures, leaflets, stationery and more.

Do you have an idea for your next printing project and a need for a printing partner to fulfil the project? Get in touch with Avenue Printing today. As print brokers, we provide our clients with reliable commercial printing services.