I want to pick the perfect invitation for my wedding but I don't know the difference between offset, thermography, letterpress or engraved. Can you please explain the differences in the methods using for printing wedding invitations? TIA!
Soon to be Mrs. B
Dear Soon to be Mrs. B.:
Oh this is a great question! There are a few different methods of printing your wedding invitation that we'd love to explain to you. In general,here are the parameters for the printing methods:
Inexpensive to Expensive
Flat vs. Raised vs. Indented
Smooth vs. Textured
Matte vs. Shiny
Let's go through each method one by one:
Digital is a great method if you want something inexpensive, flat printing and/or want to use a photograph for your invitations. It's also a quick method so if you're a procrastinator, this is a good method to consider!
Summary on Digital Printing: Inexpensive | Flat | Matte} Quick
Have you been dreaming of using a metallic ink for your wedding invitation? White ink on black paper? Or are you a stickler for the color to be a perfect Pantone Color? Then Offset is for you!
You can also do raised Offset printing, also known as thermography.
It does take a little more time for this method because there is ink, rollers and drying time. It also is a little more expensive than digital printing.
Summary on Offset Printing: Inexpensive + | Flat | Matte | Not so quick
Summary on Thermography Printing: Relatively Inexpensive | Raised | Shiny | Not so quick
Letterpress is one of the oldest methods of printing and your type or image is depressed or indented into the paper. Using thick cotton (soft) paper yields a better indent or depression than a thin and crisp paper.
"Back in the day" letterpress plates were made in metal. These days there are companies that create letterpress plates out of Polymer. That means they are less expensive to make or cast than metal. But, letterpress is a pricey option. First of all, it just takes time! Many parts of letterpress printing are done by hand and as a result, the labor involved is quite lengthy. But with the right paper and plates and letterpress artist, you can have some really beautiful invitations. You can also do white or metallic inks with Letterpress.
Summary on Letterpress Printing: Expensive | Indented | Matte | Takes time!
This is the grand-daddy of all the printing methods. The text and images are raised above the surface of the paper and give you the most crisp resolution of all the methods. US Currency is printed using this process. Plates are made for engraving out of metal and similar to letterpress, there is a lot of skill involved AND time in this method. Don't use this method if you want to do a photograph or if you want to use screens. They won't look right using this method.
Summary on Engraved Printing: EXPENSIVE | Raised | Matte | takes a LOT of time
We hope this little tutorial helped de-mystify the diferent methods of printing for you! Have a great weekend!