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Nine Commercial Printing Industry Terms to Know


Let’s face it, commercial printing industry terminology can be pretty expansive and intimidating. From personalized printing to its overarching companion, commercial printing, the many acronyms and interchangeable terms to describe various components can be difficult to decipher and use properly. To help you avoid confusion and make sense of it all, we’ve defined some key industry-specific commercial printing terms for you below.

  • Personalized Printing
    • Personalized Printing – Personalized print transforms a static print piece by personalizing it for each recipient.  Personalization can be as simple as a name in a greeting or as complex as the use of images and demographical data targeted to the specific interests of each individual for a direct mail campaign. Its purpose is to make the communication piece speak to each recipient.
    • Proven to be an effective and engaging marketing tool in capturing the attention of target audiences, the use of personalized print is shown to increase response rates, revenue, and business growth, while reducing the costs and waste associated with generic mailing.

  • Digital Printing 
    • In digital printing, an image is sent directly to the printer using digital files such as PDFs and files from graphics software such as Adobe Illustrator or Adobe InDesign. The key advantages to digital printing are: economical short run printing, less waste, and faster turnaround time. Of course, digital printing is the ideal print technology for jobs which require personalized printing.
  • Print-on demand
    • Print-on-demand (POD) is a printing technology in which a book or other publication is only printed when an order has been received, allowing documents to be printed singly, or in small volume. Print on demand developed as the digital print became more commonplace. It offers a fixed cost per copy, regardless of the size of the digital printing job. 
    • Online books and e-books sales have increased the need for print-on-demand commercial printers. Although many commercial printing companies offer print on demand services, it is important that your print on demand vendor have the expertise and the correct print on demand equipment.

  • Offset Printing
    • Offset printing is the most common form of commercial printing technology in which an image is “offset” or transferred," from a plate, to a rubber blanket, to the sheet of paper where the ink is applied. Some offset presses can print on wood, plastic, cardboard, metal, and leather. Because of set up considerations, offset printing is intended for larger commercial print runs
  • Large format printing
    • Large format printers typically utilize a form of inkjet technology to produce the printed image and are used to print large format artwork or signage such as: posters, trade show graphics, banners, wallpaper, and murals. Large format inkjet printing is more economical than other print methods such as screen printing for short-run (low quantity) print projects.                                             
  • Embossing
    • Embossing is a printing finishing technique where a design is created by pressing a copper plate directly into the paper, causing the design to raise into relief. Embossing is ideal for high quality printed pieces. Embossing works great with line drawings, logo and text.
  • Hot foil stamping
    • Hot foil stamping, also known as foil application, is usually a commercial printing process and involves the application of metallic or pigmented foil onto a solid surface by placing a foil stamping press which stamps heated die onto foil. This makes it permanently adhere to the surface below, leaving the design of the die. Examples of items that are foil stamped include corporate annual reports, business cards, pocket folders, product packaging, note cards/thank you cards, and even envelopes and letterhead.
  • Prepress
    • Prepress is the industry term to describe all of the processes that occur before printing and finishing. Design, preflighting, proofing, imposition, and output to the final output are all a part of the prepress processes. Nowadays, many of the above steps are heavily automated, by either stand-alone applications or prepress workflow systems, which allows for more elaborate communication processes.

There are many industry-specific terms to know and even the most well-seasoned industry professionals find the terminology challenging.  At Rex 3, we strive to ensure the printing and packaging portion of your business is as uncomplicated and streamlined as possible. Our full service commercial printing model allows us to be nimble and flexible, as we constantly push the limits on cutting-edge personalized commercial printing. Imagination Accomplished!