Print & Mail

Commercial Printing: What Is It and Different Types and Cost

By 7 March 2024May 2nd, 2024No Comments
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The Best 5 Types of Commercial Printing to Add Zing to Your Printed Materials

Every business needs to conduct promotional activities to increase visibility and get more sales, irrespective of its size. And one of the best ways to advertise a company is by using printed materials.

Imagine a scenario where you want to launch a new product and promote the same to your prospects. Hence, it is best to use several types of marketing, from billboard and newspaper advertising to direct mail. These printed pieces help garner attention to your brand and motivate people to buy from you.

variable data printing

It is when commercial printing comes into the picture. Naturally, there are several occasions when you would need to print materials for promotional purposes. However, you may not be fully equipped to conduct such types of regular and mass printings.

A commercial printing service can help you get your items printed in top-notch quality without you doing the heavy lifting. You can dictate your requirements in advance and let your printer finish its job smoothly.

But, there are several types of commercial printing techniques you can select from based on your needs and budget. Then, you can choose a printer that offers the method you prefer! Therefore, it is essential to know the differences between every technique and how to make the right decision.

In this blog, we hope to help you understand the meaning of commercial printing and its different types. Also, we will discuss the entire printing process and the costs associated with it—to give you an idea of what to expect.

Keep reading to know how you can get the best out of it and fulfill your marketing goals!

What is Commercial Printing?

Commercial printing involves printing materials like catalogs, postcards, magazines, etc., for businesses. It is known as commercial because the process usually comprises large volumes of items.

Also, businesses use these items for commercial activities, like advertising, marketing, publishing, and retail. This way, they can create a brand image and make a good impression on their audience.

They need such commercial printing services to save time and concentrate on other crucial activities. For example, we are sure your marketing manager has more work than overlooking the deployment of commercial printers. Not to forget, it would need you to have a separate printing room, leading to more investment in office space and human resources.

Using these services, you can allow your staff to focus on the tasks that need their expertise. It helps distribute your operational tasks more evenly and maintain efficiency.

All companies use commercial printing for different items, depending on their industry. A business in the hospitality sector may need to print:

  • Menus
  • Guest checks
  • Hotel stationery
  • Business cards
  • Restaurant placements
  • Training manuals
  • Feedback cards
  • Takeaway menus
  • Local guides, etc.

But, a healthcare institution may need to print:

Thankfully, a commercial print shop can help produce several varieties of items to suit your requirements. Recognizing that everyone's needs are different, Imprint, a commercial print shop, has a wide range of custom printing options to meet every unique need out there. Being an online shop, this shop is set to handle your diverse demands, offering a huge variety of products that fit just what you're looking for. Your business can get the visibility it needs with a wide range of printing options provided by Imprint.

Also Read: Commercial Printing Companies

Types of Commercial Printing

Choosing from different commercial printing techniques may be confusing, but it helps you diversify your printed items. If there were no variations, you would be unable to create unique materials and set your brand apart from the crowd.

Yet, you still have a decision to make- which method is the best? You can mix and match the techniques for different items and campaigns, but knowing the differences can help you significantly. Thus, we have mentioned the most popular types below to enhance your knowledge of commercial printing:

Offset Lithography

The offset printing process uses wet ink and printing plates to produce materials. The printing plate carries the content you need to print. Then, the printer inks the image and moves it to a rubber blanket before transferring it to the final printing surface.

This commercial printing technique allows the technician a great degree of control over the colors. Thus, offset lithography assures high-quality printing with vibrant visuals and better resolutions.

Offset lithography is an excellent printing option for large volumes of prints of a couple of originals. But, it is expensive as the process is majorly manual. Also, it is more time-consuming than the other commercial printing methods that we will discuss further.

The best part of offset printing is the ability to print your artwork on almost any surface, including paper, cardboard, wood, leather, plastic, etc. The flexible rubble blankets allow you to achieve high-end prints on rough or thick-surfaced media.

There are two categories of offset commercial printing:

  • Web offset
  • Sheet-fed offset printing

Web offset lithography uses only one continuous paper roll for printing, whereas sheet-fed printing involves feeding individual, single presses into a press.

However, some printers avoid using offset lithography as it requires them to balance water and ink and keep them from mixing. Also, they might see it as a traditional or outdated version of commercial printing in modern times.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is the fastest way to print short runs, especially if the number of originals is higher. It is apt for companies looking for on-demand and variable data printing services.

On-demand printing occurs when the commercial print company keeps your artwork on file and prints your order whenever you need it. It helps them produce your materials either the same day or the next working day. This scenario is not possible in the case of offset lithography.

Most companies utilize digital printing to avoid issues like destruction, damage, backorders, additional storage, etc. Also, it helps your print materials make an excellent impression with endless customization options. Here are some examples of the materials you can print with this technique:

  • Newsletters
  • Letters
  • Point-of-sale (POS) items
  • Banners
  • Labels
  • Slogans, etc.

The printer uses laser, toner, or inkjet printers in digital printing instead of metal plates. Therefore, it requires less manual labor and space compared to offset printing.

Some people say that offset commercial printing offers better quality than digital printing. But, with various advancements over the years, digital printing can now produce items of comparable quality.

Also, digital printing is a cheaper choice as there aren’t any hefty setup costs involved, like in the case of offset lithography. However, it largely depends on the number of items you need to print.

Here are some more benefits of using digital commercial print:

  • Less wastage
  • No complication regarding the mixing of ink and water
  • High-resolution prints
  • No need to change plates after every printing process like in offset lithography
  • Possibility to edit images whenever required
  • Faster turnaround time

There is only one disadvantage of this commercial printing type; sometimes, there are visible cracks and inaccurate gradients and tints. But, you can rectify this con by choosing a good print and mail service provider like PostGrid.

Our automated direct mail API helps you print your items via established printers who are experts in this industry. Also, the rates we provide are all-inclusive, meaning your commercial printing costs become remarkably low.

Large Format Printing

Often, you may need to print oversized items, like posters, signage, pop-up displays, floor graphics, wallpaper, exhibition standees, etc. These materials ensure that you get the maximum attention from your audience.

Large format items are also ideal for drawing maximum attention from a distance. For instance, if you are in a trade fair, a large banner with attractive graphics on top of your booth can drive more footfall.

Therefore, large-format commercial printing is relatively popular, and every company uses this method at some point. It is also called display printing and wide-format printing.

In 2020, the value of the large format printer market was $9.15 billion globally. It makes it apparent that there is a high demand for this printing technology.

Large-format printing helps businesses print their graphics on materials of all sizes. There is a separate large format printer used in the process because the items are too large to be printed on other types of commercial printing presses. Not surprisingly, you need specialty production equipment to cover larger dimensions.

A commercial print company can only help you with large-format printing if they have the necessary equipment. Hence, remember to inquire about these things before placing any orders with a printer.

LED UV Printing

The LED UV commercial printing option offers the best possible quality prints. Hence, it has become the most popular choice for companies seeking to wow their target audience with printed materials.

LED UV printing provides the best results under UV light, but it also helps produce clear and crisp images when viewed normally. This technology ensures that the colors are sharp and vivid under all circumstances, even when printed on uncoated paper stock.

Also, it does not need an anti-set-off powder spray or sealing coat, which is why this commercial printing method is gaining massive success. The LED UV technology helps retain the original features of your artwork, making your printed items look as good as they look on your screens.

Companies also prefer this method because of its quick turnaround time with high-quality prints. Like digital printing, you may use LED UV commercial print for any material as it replaces heat with light for drying.

Here’s another crucial thing you must know about LED UV printing- it helps your company reduce its carbon footprint. Being eco-friendly printing, it utilizes less power than the typical print-drying technology. Also, its quick on-and-off functionality helps decrease standby times between jobs, reducing CO2 emissions.

Here are some types of materials that LED UV commercial printing can help you produce:

  • Prospectuses
  • Lookbooks
  • Posters
  • Leaflets
  • Brochures
  • Handbooks
  • Catalogs, etc.

Flexographic Printing

It is another suitable type of commercial printing for businesses looking to print items at cheaper costs. You can use this technique for uneven surfaces and packaging materials.

Flexography helps print on surfaces like cellophane, plastic, metal, etc. This method is best known for its speed and versatility of inks. Quick-drying technology, helps companies create collateral on short notice.

The process involves inked rubber plates that consist of the printing image that enables you to transfer it onto the desired surface. It also helps get high-quality commercial print, explaining why companies find it hard to choose a specific type.

However, as said earlier, you can mix and match all these printing methods based on the types of materials you need. Flexography is ideal for printing business forms, textiles, newspapers, wallpapers, etc.

Also Read: Commercial Real Estate Leads

How Does the Commercial Printing Process Work?

Now that you know the commercial printing meaning and its types- let’s move on and talk about the steps involved.

Though there are unique characteristics of every printing type, the basic process involves the following stages:


A commercial print service has to conduct numerous tasks during the prepress stage, such as typesetting, photography, composition, color separation, carrier preparation, etc. It also involves the conversion of your artwork into a carrier like a plate, cylinder, or screen.

Often, the printer uses photo-processing chemicals during prepress, which requires careful handling because they can be harmful to humans and the environment.


This stage refers to the actual commercial printing activity wherein the printer transfers the digital artwork onto the print surface using ink. The press stage can vary considerably depending on the type of commercial printing you select.


During the post-press or post-production stage, the printer assembles all the items for binding and finishing. You can select which type of finishing or coating you want for your materials.

Sometimes, the printer uses adhesives while completing the post-production operations, especially in the case of books and other similar items.

To understand the commercial printing process even better, you must know the kinds of carriers or plates that printers use:

  • Relief: The printing surface is etched or cut in a particular manner to raise the image design above all the other areas.
  • Planographic: This plate type is the opposite of relief as image and non-image areas remain on the same level.
  • Screen: It is helpful in porous printing, wherein you use a mesh to push ink and move the artwork to the surface.
  • Intaglio: This plate also makes the non-printing area appear on the same level as the substrate. But, the printing area moves back to form a recess.

Factors Affecting the Commercial Printing Costs

We have already discussed how some printing methods are more affordable than others. But, several factors play their roles in determining the costs of commercial print, and they are:

  • The type of materials
  • Volume
  • Print quality
  • Color presence
  • Printing techniques

Naturally, your orders might vary from campaign to campaign. Thus, the price range can keep changing according to your expectations. Hence, discuss these aspects with your commercial print service provider and seek the most competitive pricing. It is essential to select a printer that can learn your unique requirements and draft a personalized plan for every project.

Also, choose a method that offers excellent quality prints but does not drain your budget. Though your printer accomplishes most of the commercial printing tasks, you can also do a few things to optimize costs:

  • Choose a commercial print company that guides you through every step of the way. Having your printer also act as a consultant results in smooth relationships and better results.
  • Get work proofs and samples before placing a large-volume order to confirm whether the printer can fulfill your expectations.
  • Ensure that you are using the latest technology for commercial printing to maintain the resolution of your artwork.
  • Employ automation whenever possible to optimize your printing processes and save money.

To control costs, you can also use PostGrid’s automated direct mail services that help you produce and ship your items affordably.

In What Ways Can Commercial Printing Benefit Your Business?

Printed materials come in handy for many reasons, like marketing, client servicing, etc. You can print some items in bulk beforehand, including business cards and customer forms. However, others need on-demand printing, depending on your plans and needs.

Here, we have mentioned the categories of use cases for which commercial print can be of great help:

Trade Fairs or Exhibitions

It is not enough to participate in a trade fair and have your brand name appear in the show directory. You can do well only when you prepare to attract and attend innumerable prospects at your booth.

Thankfully, print items can help you get there! You can get noticed easily using materials such as pop-ups, tabletop displays, branded hand-outs, podiums, etc. That is why commercial print companies get the most business when a trade fair is coming up.

Event Promotion and Organization

Whether you want to host a fundraising dinner or a product launch, you need materials to promote your event. Depending on your industry, you need to send out invitations, thank-you cards, corporate gifts, etc., to get more and more people to RSVP.

In such cases, commercial printing can help you draw attention and add a creative touch to your items.


Branding is essential to make your business recognizable to your target audience. Often, companies use a logo to get recognition on offline and online platforms. The best strategy is to print your name, logo, tagline, and contact information on all your collateral.

Commercial printing services allow you to produce a cohesive set of materials to increase brand awareness, ranging from promotional postcards to administrative folders.

Posters and Signage

You don’t need to wait for an event or exhibition to print window decals, vehicle wraps, outdoor signage, etc. These commercial print items help you get business and increase visibility throughout the year, allowing you to keep your revenue cycle running.

Direct Mail

Direct mail is one of the most effective forms of print advertising. But, businesses find it hard to conduct an offline mailing campaign due to time and money constraints.

But, commercial printing services can help you prevent these problems and send direct mail conveniently. For example, PostGrid’s direct mail solutions let you connect with your prospects using automation. Also, it provides:

  • International mailing
  • Free address verification
  • Wide range of collateral
  • Bulk mailing
  • Flexible pricing plans
  • Campaign tracking and monitoring, etc.

How Can PostGrid Help You With Your Commercial Printing Needs?

As said above, PostGrid is your one-stop destination for your direct mailing needs. Our commercial printing services can help you get your materials printed in the best quality you can imagine. But, you get to enjoy the benefits without the work. Here’s how:

  • You can avoid learning about the different types of commercial printing in-depth and arriving at a conclusion. PostGrid automatically redirects your orders to one of the best printers in the country that can complete your project smoothly.
  • Our vast network of printing vendors helps you get your items ready in just two business days. Thus, you no longer need to worry about time consumption.
  • Along with printing, PostGrid also provides design and mail fulfillment services. You can conduct an effective direct mail marketing campaign by streamlining your tasks under one roof.
  • PostGrid also enables real-time tracking, location-based marketing, and more advanced features to help your campaign succeed.

Wrapping Up

Companies use commercial printing as part of their daily operations. It helps them at all stages of customer acquisition and retention. Also, it allows them to improve their reputation and strengthen personal relationships.

In short, you cannot separate commercial print from your business. Thus, it makes sense to understand this concept and look for affordable methods. Hopefully, this blog helps you get an idea of all the popular types allowing you to know what best suits your company.

Though there are several distinctions between offset and digital printing, the other types offer almost the same quality. Hence, you should talk to your printer about it and negotiate the rates to get your prints at reasonable prices without compromising the quality.

If you want to avoid going through all this trouble, you can automate the process using PostGrid. Our solutions can assist you in designing, commercial printing, and distributing your items 5x more efficiently.

Sign up now to learn how PostGrid can help you save your marketing dollars and still get excellent responses with commercial printing!

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