Printing Companies
  1. About Printing Industry
  2. Printing Services
  3. Print Buyers
  4. Printing Resources
  5. Classified Ads
  6. Printing Glossary
  7. Printing Newsletters
  8. Contact Print Industry
Who We Are

Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

Need a Printing Quote from multiple printers? click here.

Are you a Printing Company interested in joining our service? click here.

The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

This is a free service to the print buyer. All you do is find the appropriate bid request form, fill it out, and it is emailed out to the printing companies who do that type of printing work. The printers best qualified to do your job, will email you pricing and if you decide to print your job through one of these print vendors, you contact them directly.

We have kept the PIE system simple -- we get a monthly fee from the commercial printers who belong to our service. Once the bid request is submitted, all interactions are between the print buyers and the printers.

We are here to help, you can contact us by email at

Printing Technology: The Option of Waterless Lithography Printing

Traditional offset lithography depends on the fact that oil and water repel each other. The image area of a traditional lithographic plate attracts the oily ink and repels the dampening solution (water and alcohol), while the non-image area attracts water and repels the oily ink. When the commercial printer achieves the correct ink/water balance, the press can accurately print type and images from the planographic (flat surfaced) printing plates.

Unfortunately, offset lithography has its environmental drawbacks:

  1. It wastes a huge amount of water.
  2. It takes a lot of makeready time for the commercial printer to achieve the ink/water balance, so paper waste is high.
  3. The custom printing vendor’s dampening solution contains VOCs (volatile organic compounds such as alcohol) that are hazardous to the environment.

But There Is an Alternative: Waterless Custom Printing

Waterless printing, originally patented by 3M in the ’60s as “Driography,” is based not on chemistry but on the physical properties of the plate coating, the plate surface, and the ink. In contrast, offset lithography distinguishes between image area and non-image area based on the mutually exclusive chemical properties of oil and water.

Unlike offset lithography, waterless custom printing uses silicon-coated plates. Silicon repels ink (ink slips right off is surface). Therefore, by exposing the printing plate with a laser and removing the silicon in the image areas, the commercial printer can produce a plate on which ink will only be attracted to the type, line art, and photos. (More specifically, UV light travels through the silicon and activates the underlying photopolymer layer of the plate, breaking the bond with the silicon and allowing it to slough off.)

Unlike the flat plates of offset lithography, waterless plates are intaglio in nature (they have recessed image areas) once the silicon has been removed. This allows waterless presses to carry and deposit a greater volume of ink than traditional offset presses (a stiffer, thicker, and more viscous ink with a higher tack, since no water is involved). And the ability to print a greater volume of thicker ink yields a larger color spectrum than can be achieved with traditional offset lithography.

Where Can You Find Waterless Presses?

Waterless lithography has been around since the 1960s, but it is not a pervasive technology. Direct Imaging presses are waterless. These would include the Heidelberg Quickmaster DI (as well as Presstek’s, Screen’s, and KBA’s direct imaging presses).

In addition, some presses are hybrids. These can be used for offset lithography and waterless printing, but they must include a special cooling apparatus, in which hollow tubing carries water through rollers in the ink train to maintain a constant ink temperature. Otherwise, the thicker ink would cause friction in the ink rollers and press plates, raising the overall ink temperature and compromising its viscosity.

Why Choose Waterless Printing?

Waterless offset provides a number of benefits:

  1. The process allows for higher halftone screen rulings since the ink is stiffer, tackier, and more viscous than offset press ink. This yields better halftone dot reproduction and hence better image definition.
  2. The higher screen rulings allow commercial printers to achieve increased print contrast and a wider color range while eliminating the halftone rosette patterns of traditional offset lithography.
  3. A waterless press will hold a tonal range from a .5 percent halftone dot to a 95.5 percent halftone dot. This greater tonal range provides more mid-tone and shadow detail than traditional offset lithography.
  4. Waterless printing produces less dot gain (spreading of the ink on the paper), so there is greater image detail, particularly in shadows and midtones. Reduced dot gain also allows the custom printing vendor to use a thicker ink film, which yields brighter colors.
  5. The thicker, tackier ink allows for exceptional ink holdout on a multitude of coated and uncoated printing stocks (i.e., the ink sits up on the surface of the press sheet).
  6. Since the commercial printer does not need to maintain a stable ink/water balance, he can reduce paper waste and improve the efficiency of the custom printing job. The commercial printer can also hold more consistent color throughout the press run once he has achieved optimal color on press.
  7. Eliminating the dampening solution also eliminates the paper stretch that results from wet paper. The higher dimensional stability of the paper affords the custom printing vendor better control over color register on press.
  8. The environmental benefits include the elimination of water waste, reduced paper waste, and the elimination of hazardous chemicals.

4 Responses to “Printing Technology: The Option of Waterless Lithography Printing”

  1. Ron McClarin says:

    I really appreciate this article. I think I may write something about waterless printing on our blog to get the awareness out there. Thanks, Ron

    • admin says:

      Thank you for your comment. I checked out your blog as well, and I found it to be most interesting and informative. I think that waterless printing has a lot of advantages, and I’ve been impressed with the samples I have seen.

  2. Waterless printing is the best option. It has a lot of advantages, like vibrant colors, the resolution is much better compared to other methods, and it has a larger color space.

    • admin says:

      Thank you for the comment. I totally agree. I’m a personal fan of waterless printing. My understanding is that it’s also more environmentally friendly.


Recent Posts


Read and subscribe to our newsletter!

Printing Services include all print categories listed below & more!
4-color Catalogs
Affordable Brochures: Pricing
Affordable Flyers
Book Binding Types and Printing Services
Book Print Services
Booklet, Catalog, Window Envelopes
Brochures: Promotional, Marketing
Bumper Stickers
Business Cards
Business Stationery and Envelopes
Catalog Printers
Cheap Brochures
Color, B&W Catalogs
Color Brochure Printers
Color Postcards
Commercial Book Printers
Commercial Catalog Printing
Custom Decals
Custom Labels
Custom Posters Printers
Custom Stickers, Product Labels
Custom T-shirt Prices
Decals, Labels, Stickers: Vinyl, Clear
Digital, On-Demand Books Prices
Digital Poster, Large Format Prints
Discount Brochures, Flyers Vendors
Envelope Printers, Manufacturers
Label, Sticker, Decal Companies
Letterhead, Stationary, Stationery
Magazine Publication Quotes
Monthly Newsletter Pricing
Newsletter, Flyer Printers
Newspaper Printing, Tabloid Printers
Online Book Price Quotes
Paperback Book Printers
Postcard Printers
Post Card Mailing Service
Postcards, Rackcards
Postcard Printers & Mailing Services
Post Card Direct Mail Service
Poster, Large Format Projects
Posters (Maps, Events, Conferences)
Print Custom TShirts
Screen Print Cards, Shirts
Shortrun Book Printers
Tabloid, Newsprint, Newspapers
T-shirts: Custom Printed Shirts
Tshirt Screen Printers
Printing Industry Exchange, LLC, P.O. Box 394, Bluffton, SC 29910
©2019 Printing Industry Exchange, LLC - All rights reserved