The Offset Printing Process Flowchart Explained - In Detail

The Offset Printing Process Flowchart Explained - In Detail

This is the step in the flowchart is where the customer is most involved with the offset printer.  He must clearly communicate his finished product and provide all the resources possible to achieve it.  Then the printer can proceed with it's own preparation for production.

Once the final product is visualized, the offset printing manufacturer must order all the necessary raw materials to make the final product.  Here are just a few examples, depending on the process:
  1. Ink
  2. Paper
  3. Glue
  4. Stitching
  5. Press chemicals
  6. Boxing & packaging materials

Alongside the raw materials ordering, the graphics and layout will be prepared in this offset printing process flowchart.  Special software is used for pagination and layout that will put position the images into a format that allow the printing press to print the pages in order and in the right format.

Here are some examples of software used in this stage of the process:

For offset printing, plates need to be made for the press.  Once all pages are approved for layout on a computer, they are printed to aluminum printing plates.  A laser burns the image onto the printing plates which create hydrophilic and hydrophobic areas of the plate.  This is necessary as offset printing uses both water and ink to print.  Once burned, these plates usually have the edges bent to mount on the press.

The offset plates are then mounted on the press along will all raw materials ordered for the job.  This will most certainly include paper and ink, but other minor materials necessary for the workflow.

The offset printing process is a process requiring a perfect chemistry of ink and water to balance just right.  The offset pressmen will start the press and try to achieve this balance as quickly as possible to achieve the proper density of ink for the right colors. They will also quickly try to achieve any on-press alignments for trimming and folding that may happen in this inline process.  This is by far the most costly and complex of the workflow.

Once the offset printing press has finished, offline tasks are necessary.  This may include binding the copies, or signatures together. Here are just a few examples of what may be required:
  • binding
  • stitching
  • glueing
  • cutting and trimming
  • inserting other products

In the offset printing press workflow, this may be one of the most overlooked.  The customer may want products directly shipped to customers from the printer if this service is offered.  Additionally, care must be taken as stacked items can topple.

This is of course an oversimplified view of the process, but give you an idea.  Please follow links in the article for more detailed explanations.

If you want a complete breakdown in detail, here is a book I recommend that is sold on Amazon and breaks every process down in more detail.  This is it here.  


  1. Anonymous4:35 PM

    34 years experience from small press to 25 in 4 color. I now run a jet press 2 color a ryobi 2 color a a sick 2 color and also a letter press. I also help with pre press yea all this in one job and paid 21 an hour!!! Would love to here any feed back


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