Dry Offset Printing

In the artistry of Dry offset printing, a relief printing plate joyfully orchestrates the transfer or “offset” of multiple colors to a rubber pad or blanket. This delightful blanket then imparts an inked image with precision and flair onto substrates like polypropylene drink cups.

The term “dry” in dry offset brings a positive twist, symbolizing the absence of water in the inking system. Unlike offset lithography, where water plays a role in dampening and repelling oil-based dye, dry offset embraces a water-free journey, adding to its charm and efficiency.


  • Dry offset printing is a printing technique renowned for its remarkable capabilities and unique advantages.
  • In this method, the plate cylinder and impression cylinder form a crucial semantic triplet, working together seamlessly to bring forth high-quality printed materials.
  • The process involves the careful preparation of the controlling ink density, ensuring a delightful experience of consistent and accurate color reproduction.
  • The versatility of dry offset printing extends to a wide range of substrates, such as plastic, metal, glass, and paperboard, showcasing its ability to adapt to various materials and curved surfaces.
  • One of the distinctive features is its ability to replicate designs on curved exteriors like cups and containers, demonstrating precise image reproduction.
  • Moreover, the key components of a dry offset printing press, including the plate cylinder, impression cylinder, dye ducts, dryer unit, and delivery unit, dance harmoniously to produce outstanding results.
  • The plate-making method in dry offset printing involves conveying a negative graphic onto a photosensitive plate, emphasizing the intricate steps in the printing process.
  • In essence, dry offset printing forms an integral part of the printing industry, celebrated for its unparalleled quality, versatility, and meticulous attention to detail in every aspect of its operation.

What is Dry Offset Printing?

Dry offset printing, also known as indirect letterpress or waterless offset printing, is a highly innovative printing method that skillfully blends the efficiency of offset lithography with the precision of letterpress printing techniques.

The term “dry” offset reflects its eco-friendly approach as it abstains from using dampening water, a departure from traditional offset litho. Instead, it embraces a sophisticated dye convey system, ensuring a seamless and environmentally conscious transfer of vibrant images from the plate cylinder to the substrate.

The magic happens as the pigment on the substrate is lovingly cured with high-intensity ultraviolet light. UV ink, with a viscosity akin to peanut butter, adds a positive touch, with its delightful consistency influenced by ingredients and temperature.

Steps in Dry Offset 

Dry offset printing emerges as a favored option, spreading positivity, especially when it comes to adorning cylindrical and conical objects like beverage cans and tubes with vibrant and delightful prints. The method involves several steps to achieve high-quality and precise printing results. Understanding these steps is essential for ensuring the success of any dry offset printing project. 

In the artwork and graphic preparation phase, creative designs are crafted employing graphic artwork software, ensuring they meet desired specifications. The enchanting plate creation stage unfolds with the production of printing cylinders and offset plates, joyfully carrying the vibrant graphics or text destined for a beautiful print.

Dry offset printing is a popular choice for printing on cylindrical and conical objects, such as beverage cans and tubes.

This delightful method encompasses exposure, development, and etching, adding a positive touch to each step of the creative journey.

Ink preparation & color management

  • The types of ink for printers employed in the fascinating realm of waterless offset printing, enriched with the brilliance of flexo techniques and the precision of inkjet technology, receives meticulous care and attention, guaranteeing a delightful experience of consistent and accurate shade reproduction. 
  • This vibrant dye is expertly mixed, bringing to life the desired shade specifications with absolute precision. 
  • Thanks to the application of uplifting tint management techniques, a harmonious and consistent array of shades, akin to beautiful dye droplets, graces the entire printing method, enhancing the overall positive impact. 
  • In the realm of printing solutions, the method not only produces exceptional excellence but also contributes to the industry’s continuous progress and the creation of ultimate packaging solutions.

Printing setup & adjustment

  • Before starting the coying method, the machine must be set up and adjusted accordingly. 
  • Embrace the joyous process of mounting the plate cylinders onto the offset press plate cylinders, where positive vibes guide the setting of the perfect dye and liquid balance.
  • Delightfully adjust the pressure settings and align the substrate feeding mechanism, adding a touch of precision and harmony to this uplifting endeavor.
  • This meticulous method ensures a seamless workflow, contributing to the overall efficiency and positive impact of the printing operation.

Printing process

  • Plate cylinder rotation: The cutting-edge technology of digital printers ensures that the plate cylinders rotate, seamlessly bringing the inked image zones on the copying plates into contact with the plate cylinder.
  • Ink convey to the plate cylinder: The precision of a laser printer takes center stage as the dyed graphic areas on the printing plates expertly transmit the dye to the rubber plate cylinder. This resilient blanket cylinder not only receives but embraces and holds the dye on its surface with unmatched finesse.
  • Dye transfer to the substrate: Witnessing the magic unfold, like a masterpiece by the best artists, the substrate gracefully passes through the machine. In a harmonious dance, it comes into contact with the plate cylinder where the pigment, meticulously provided by the innovative digital printers, is conveyed to the substrate. This seamless method creates a printed graphic or text of unparalleled accuracy and excellence.

Drying & curing method

  • After the dye, carefully crafted through the innovative methods of offset lithographic printing and the excellence of sheet-fed offset process and web-fed offset technologies, is transmitted to the substrate, it undergoes a drying and curing method.
  • Elevate your printing experience with advanced techniques like the gentle touch of air drying, the comforting warmth of infrared drying, or the radiant efficiency of UV curing.
  • Each method contributes positively to the final outcome, adding a layer of innovation and joy to the process.
  • The meticulous drying process not only ensures the proper adhesion of the dye to the substrate but also prevents any smudging or smearing, ensuring the final product is a unique and high-quality representation of excellence in artwork and printing.

Finishing & post-printing operations

  • After the printed substrate basks in the joy of drying, it eagerly embraces additional finishing methods like the graceful dance of cutting, the artful folds of folding, the glossy touch of laminating, or the shimmering beauty of varnishing.
  • These positive enhancements cater to the specific requirements of the print job, ensuring a splendid and complete masterpiece.
  • These post-printing operations enhance the printed material’s appearance, durability, and functionality, preparing it for final application or distribution.

Benefits of Waterless offset printing

  • High-Quality Output and Color Reproduction: Waterless offset, a revolutionary method of printing, delivers exceptional copy quality with sharp details, superior resolution, and consistent shade reproduction. It provides fine line work and precise graphic reproduction, making it suitable for intricate artwork, logos, and text.
  • Versatility in Printing on Different Substrates: One of the significant advantages of waterless offset printing is its capability to print on a wide range of substrates, including the versatile options of plastic, metal, glass, and paperboard, including curved or irregular exteriors. This versatility, coupled with the industry’s need for diverse copying applications, makes it highly suitable for various packaging needs.
  • Cost-Effectiveness and Efficiency in Large-Scale Production: Waterless offset, an essential technique in large-scale production, is cost-effective for extensive production runs. Once the initial setup is complete, it allows for efficient and rapid copying, meeting the industry’s demand for timely and effective methods. The method is optimized for high-speed production, resulting in reduced unit costs for large volumes of printed materials. Additionally, employing high-viscosity dyes and minimal waste contributes to cost efficiency.
Benefits of Waterless offset printing

Each of these advantages contributes significantly to the future of the industry, making waterless offset a preferred choice for packaging, branding, and decorative copying needs on three-dimensional objects or diverse substrates. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Waterless offset printing brings numerous advantages to the table, offering high graphic quality, consistent results, and the incredible ability to replicate designs on curved exteriors like cups and containers.

Waterless offset printing employs innovative pigment ducts to gracefully transmit dye to the plate, while wet offset printing relies on traditional dampening systems. Notably, waterless offset is perfect for non-porous surfaces and is widely embraced for its role in elevating the aesthetics of food and beverage packaging.

Waterless offset printing is a star in the world of copying on mugs, containers, tubes, and other cylindrical objects. Its versatility extends to labels and packaging materials, making it a go-to choice for a wide range of creative applications.

A typical waterless offset printing press boasts key components like a plate cylinder, impression cylinder, dye ducts, dryer unit, and delivery unit, all working harmoniously to bring your vibrant designs to life.

In the enchanting plate-making process, a negative graphic is elegantly conveyed onto a photosensitive plate. This plate, after a dance with a developer solution, emerges with a beautifully raised surface ready for the graceful transmission of vibrant dyes.


Waterless offset printing has become a popular choice for copying plastic buckets and aluminum cans in North America. The separation of the image onto the copying plate and then onto the substrate allows for high-quality and consistent results. 

This copying method has been the first choice for many companies due to its efficiency and cost-effectiveness. No matter the size of the project, waterless offset printing has proven to be a reliable option for producing vibrant and durable designs on various containers. 

We provide a lot of interesting information related to getting to know offset printing. Please email wlo-usa.org if you have any questions. Cheryl G. Harris is happy to introduce you to this.

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