William Arthur, a leader in the stationery industry, has been producing exquisite stationery for over 50 years. The following article by William Arthur is an excellent primer on the various printing processes:
William Arthur provides all types of printing options: thermography, engraving, embossing, letterpress and flat printing.
Flat PrintingTechnically known as Offset/Lithography and is recognized by clean edges and smooth print.
> See an example of flat printing.
Thermography | UV Thermography | Matte Thermography
Freshly printed inks are dusted with a powder compound. After the excess powder on the non-printing areas is removed by vacuum, the sheet passes under a heater, which fuses the ink and powdered compound. The printing swells or raises to simulate the look of engraving. UV thermography printing is generally used on stationery paper for consumers to use in their home printers so the ink will not smudge or melt. Matte thermography printing is not as shiny, resulting in the dull or "matte" look.
> See an example of thermographed printing.
Letters and designs are cut or etched into a copper plate. The plate is inked so that all sub-surfaces are filled with ink, then the surface is wiped clean, leaving ink only in the depressed (or sunken) areas of the plate. The paper is forced against the plate with tremendous pressure, This produces the characteristic indented or bruised impression on the back of the paper.
> See an example of engraved printing.
The oldest and most versatile method of printing was originally produced from cast metal type or plates on which the image or printing areas are raised above the non-printing areas of the plate. Ink touches only the top surface of the raised areas; the surrounding (non-printing) areas are lower and do not receive ink. The inked image is transferred directly into the paper. Sometimes a slight embossing (because of denting) appears on the reverse side of the paper. The letterpress image is usually sharp and crisp.
> See an example of letterpress printing.
Similar to the Engraving process, but without ink. The plate is pressed into the paper creating a raised look to the text or design. As blind embossing requires thicker lines to produce a clear impression in the paper, it is recommended to use typestyles, monograms and designs suitable for embossing only.
> See an example of blind embossed printing.
This flat printing method is achieved by laying down a screen of colored dots (known as CMYK, for the four colors from which all colors are composed: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). Digital Printing is a less expensive option for multiple-color printing and for images that are shaded or screened.
> See an example of digital printing.