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Checklist Showing the Difference Between Gravure and Web Offset Printing.

We’ve looked at how to find a great web offset printer and also produced a 2 minute guide to web offset printing in the past. Both of which we hope you’ve found useful. So when I came across this checklist, I thought it makes a great cross-over between the two processes before we publish some helpful articles on gravure printing. Let me know if you find it useful!

So here it is, a quick look at the key feature, process and benefit differences of Gravure and Web Offset printing:

  • The gravure printing process has the ability to print a smoother image and more consistently on lightweight papers.
  • Web offset printing presses have fixed cylinder cutoffs, whereas gravure presses have a variable cutoff dictated by the cylinder diameter used.
  • Web offset dots are printed as a round dot; gravure ones are hexagonal.
  • Web offset uses a printing plate; gravure a cylinder engraved with cells which carry ink.
  • Web offset is an offset printing process, whereas gravure is intaglio (i.e. the cylinder comes into direct contact with the paper and is not offset).
  • Web offset inks are dried by heat from a gas oven. Gravure inks contain a solvent called Toluene which, as well as being toxic, evaporates, hence drying the ink without heat.
  • Web offset presses can print either long or short grain; gravure prints short grain, due to folder configurations.
  • Web offset printing is suitable for 8pp A4 sections upwards from runs of 50,000 upwards. Normally gravure will print sections from 8pp to 168pp in size and is competitive for runs, usually, from several hundred thousand to millions of copies.
  • Web offset plates will run for around a million impressions; gravure cylinders, which are coated in chrome, can last for over 20 million impressions.
  • The set-up costs of a gravure press are several times that of a Web offset printing press – hence the size of run needed for the process to be competitive.

If you’re unsure which process is right for your print project, please drop your print specification onto our contact us form and our print consultants will be able to advise you, as well as give you the quickest print quote in the business.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Norman Smith , 8:18 pm

    Good Afternoon, To Whom This mat concern:

    I have read Your statement above concerning drying offset and gravure inks, You state that drying gravure inks which contain toluene does not require heat to dry, would it not depend on the run speed of the printing press and the substrate being printed weather or not heat should be applied. some gravure inks contain more than just toluene in their composition and drying with heat is very much needed, Please reply. Norman Smith

    • Rich B , 10:58 am

      Thanks for your comment Norman. Of course, our little guide is only designed to give you a flavour of the differences between gravure and web offset and your comment highlights some of the complexities that can be involved with gravure. In short then, yep, you’re right. Our notes relate to gravure in magazine and catalogue production mostly and if you’re talking about packaging or some other applications, drying will be needed.

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