What's the Difference Between Sheet-Fed and Web Printing?

Right off the bat, the primary difference between web presses and sheet-fed presses:

web presses feed off a large roll of paper, while sheet-fed presses feed individual sheets of paper.

No matter what you’re experience is with printing, you have perused countless catalogs, magazines, and other promotional marketing materials without ever focusing on the specific details that attracted you to them in the first place, that is until it’s time for you to print one.  If you are the one in charge of a direct mail initiative, marketing campaign, or the one ordering flyers for your company, it must not only look and feel absolutely spectacular, but it must also be effective. 

Ok, you’re asking, “So what?”

All paper is manufactured in rolls.  There is a cost involved in sheeting paper; that is the process of taking a large roll of paper and slicing it into individual sheets of a certain size and stacking or packaging those sheets.  This makes the cost of sheets of paper a bit more expensive than purchasing rolls. It is also slower and more difficult to feed sheets into a press than it is to continuously feed a roll. 

What they have in common.

They are both viable solutions to creating marketing materials.

Advantages of each.

Sheet-fed can print on a much larger diversity of stocks, especially on those that are thicker.  Sheet-fed can print larger formats, heavier, and specialty paper making it perfect for brochures, business cards, and postcards. Sheet-fed is great for smaller runs.

On a web press, folding and sheeting can happen in line, (as the item is printed.)  As a result, once a web press is running, the printing and inline finishing are significantly faster, reducing overhead and production times. Web presses lend themselves to longer runs.

Finally, there’s the difference in print productivity.  No matter how you put it on a sheet, the ink needs to be applied wet and allowed to dry.  This can be accomplished in one of several ways:

  1. By Oxidation: Exposure to air causes the ink to dry. Many presses have heaters built into the end and the sheet goes through this dryer to expedite the process.  However, additional drying time may still be required due to ink coverage.
  2.    By Coating: When a press has a coating unit an Aqueous (water-based) coating can be applied to the surface of the sheet that “covers” the ink. While the ink is not completely dry the coating allows production to handle the printed sheets more expeditiously.
  3.   By UV Exposure: Presses can be equipped with UV lights, and when running UV Inks, the ink dries immediately when exposed to the UV light. This allows immediate handling by production.

Technology is constantly getting better across the board. Both sheetfed and web presses can produce high-quality work.  Quantity, size of the finished product, and turnaround time can determine whether your project is better suited to a sheetfed press vs a web press.  You will want to work with a printer that can offer you the benefits of both  From web to sheet to digital.  We are diverse in production options which gives you the results your unique printed piece needs.

Send us a note and we can schedule a tour of our facility.  You can see the many options for production we have. 

Alexander Clark Printing is helping change business printing one ink spot at a time. 

Printed documents run business.  Words on a page communicate with your staff and customers. 

Alexander Clark can supply you with your promotional products, from pens to stress balls, from mugs to wrist bands.

When done right, direct mail marketing can work with your other channels, like digital marketing, to make your business stand out. 

 Printing on the envelope is your opportunity to add color, personality, and in some cases, life to your envelope. Which one you choose can depend on the kind of mailing you are doing, the size of your mailing and your budget.

 Alexander Clark Printing can manage your documents. Our technologies empower our clients, streamline processes, lower costs, improve service levels.