We’re often asked the question “which is best, web or sheet-fed?”
Firstly in Web Offset printing the presses print from a continuous roll of paper and then dry the ink in an oven before folding the product and delivering finished sections. All this is done at a high speed.
Sheet-fed machines (although they can now use paper in roll format) print at a much slower speed and deliver flat sheets which then need some time to cure and still be folded off line. As a print company we are often asked what the actual differences will be in terms of quality; will I actually notice any difference when I get my brochure or magazine? Certainly once you get over around 5,000 copies web printing starts to become the cheaper option, and the cost savings to be had are more tempting the higher the print run goes.
This leads customers to ask which one is “better”. Unfortunately this is a very subjective question. For example, printing on a web press can give images more lift and much lighter papers can be utilised resulting in possible savings in paper and postage. This though is at the expense of the paper becoming a little ‘wavy’. This is called web wave and is caused by drying the paper at high temperature and cooling it all at a high running speed. Also finished sections can experience web growth where the sections actually increase marginally in size over time as the paper reabsorbs moisture. Many consider these issues minor and many famous high quality publications in the UK are printed Web Offset.
The truth is both processes have pros and cons and there is not one clear answer. Here at Warners we have both processes in house, and therefore don’t have any particular allegiance to either. What it does mean is that we can provide you with the prices and information on both, so you can make an informed decision on what is best for you and your product.
If you would like to see our range of videos including one about web vs sheet-fed printing please click here.