What Is Cold Set Web Printing

Step into the realm of what is cold set web printing. Often unsung but undeniably vital, this technique forms the backbone of newspaper production. Unlike its heated counterpart, cold set printing operates without the aid of ovens, making it ideal for uncoated and absorbent paper.

It’s a method celebrated for its efficiency in delivering large volumes of newspapers at rapid speeds, ensuring timely dissemination of news to readers worldwide.

Its prowess lies in its ability to swiftly produce newsprint in vast quantities without compromising quality, ensuring that the day’s news reaches your hands promptly. Introducing offset printing method is known for its high speeds and ability to print in large volumes with consistent quality.


  • Cold set uses a printing method where ink vaporizes through air exposure without added heat.
  • In this technique, a web press transfers ink onto uncoated paper, commonly found in newspaper production. Unlike heat set printing, cold set lacks rapid vaporizationmechanisms leading to longer vaporizationperiods.
  • Though picture quality might not match heat set standards, cold set excels in high-speed production, ideal for newspapers and other publications prioritizing efficiency over detailed picture resolution.

What Is Cold Set Web Printing?

Cold Set, a prevalent printing technique, operates distinctly from its heat-set counterpart, focusing on efficiency and cost-effectiveness, primarily within the realm of newspaper production.

Cold set printing process by which ink vaporizes primarily through air exposure without supplementary heat sources. The process involves a web press that transfers ink onto uncoated paper stocks, commonly used in newspaper printing. 

In offset litho, the absence of rapid vaporizationtechnology in cold set printing results in extended vaporizationtimes. While the image quality may not meet the high standards set by heat set methods, cold set excels in high-speed production, making it ideal for newspapers and other publications emphasizing efficiency over intricate picture resolution.

1. Prepress Preparation: First printing press process begins with prepress activities. This involves preparing the design or content intended for printing. Designers and technicians ensure the content adheres to the necessary specifications. This stage might involve digital formatting, layout adjustments, or pigment separations to ensure optimal printing results.

2. Plate Making: Unlike traditional offset lithography that uses metal offset plates, Cold Set typically uses flexible printing plates made of polymer or rubber. These plates are pictured directly from the digital files and mounted onto the printing cylinder of the press. Each plate carries a part of the content to be printed, usually a single color in the CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black) color model.

3. Ink Application: Between web and sheet-fed press, sheetfed press uses individual sheets of paper, coldset web offset press unwinds a continuous roll of paper, known as the web, through the printing unit. Ink is applied to the printing plates, which then transfer the inked picture onto the uncoated material as it passes through. The ink adheres to the paper surface, relying on air exposure to gradually dry and absorb into the paper fibers.

4. Printing Speed and Drying: One of the distinct characteristics of Cold Set is its high-speed production capability. As the ink is left to air dry, the process allows for fast printing rates, suitable for high-volume jobs such as newspapers and flyers. However, they may add a dryer or use ultraviolet and avoid evaporation and absorption when the paper leaves.

5. Finishing: After printing, the web moves through various finishing processes, which may include folding, cutting, or binding, depending on the specific requirements for the process to produce the product. Additional operations may be needed post-printing to finalize the product.

Benefits of using Cold Set 

Cold Set offers a cost-effective and efficient solution for high-volume printing needs. Tailored for rapid production, this method excels in swiftly delivering newspapers, direct mail and catalogs. 

Introducing web offset pace, this continuous roll-fed printing method can operate at speeds over 1,000 feet per minute. Despite its focus on speed over intricate detail, Coldset Printing remains a cornerstone in the industry of printing possible, providing quick turnaround times and cost-effective solutions for various printed materials.

Benefits of using Cold Set 
  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Cold Set is one of the more economical forms of printing, especially for high-volume print runs such as newspapers, catalogs, and flyers. It requires less specialized equipment and energy, resulting in less expensive costs.
  2. Efficiency in High-Speed Production: It excels in high-speed production up to 80,000 cut-offs per hour, making it ideal for time-sensitive print jobs like newspapers and mail campaigns. The process is optimized for fast printing rates, facilitating quick turnaround times.
  3. Suitability for Uncoated Paper: Cold Set is tailored for uncoated  surface, which are absorbent and cost-efficient. This makes it an excellent choice for materials like newspapers, where uncoated material is commonly used.
  4. Mass Production Capability: With its ability to handle large runs efficiently, Cold Set is well-suited for mass production, allowing for the rapid printing of numerous copies within a short timeframe.
  5. Versatility in Applications: While it may not achieve the same picture quality as other printing methods, Cold Set finds its niche in producing newspapers, inserts, flyers, and other printed materials prioritizing efficiency over intricate picture details.
  6. Environmentally Friendly: As it uses less energy compared to other printing methods, Cold Set is considered more environmentally friendly, contributing to reduced energy consumption and emissions.
  7. Direct Mail Printing: It’s particularly beneficial for mail campaigns and postcards due to its efficiency in high-speed printing, making it cost-effective for marketing materials.

Beware of scumming trouble which can be encountered in offset lithographic printing regardless of whether it’s coldset or heatset printing. Let’s define scumming: scumming can happen when printing ink deposits unintentionally on non-image areas of the plate, leading to print quality issues. Sheet-fed offset explained utilizes a flat printing plate where the image areas are oil-based and repel water while the non-image areas are water-based. Controlling the balance between ink and moisture is key to preventing issues like scumming.

Here’s the deal, it’s a common issue in offset printing processes since the cause can vary due to various factors like bad roller settings, poor plate development, incorrect ink formulations, and poor ink strength or it can be some deeper reasons. That’s scumming!

Cold set Printing Applications

Cold Set Web-fed offset printing, a renowned printing service, finds its niche across various applications, offering cost-effective solutions for high-volume print jobs. Here’s a detailed exploration of its diverse applications:

Cold set Printing Applications
  • Newspapers and Periodicals: Cold Set remain as a sustainability of newspaper production. Its high-speed capability enables the rapid printing of newspapers, meeting the demands of daily or weekly publications. The method’s efficiency in handling large runs and its suitability for uncoated surface make it an ideal choice for periodicals, community newspapers, and flyers.
  • Direct Mail Campaigns: For businesses seeking efficient and affordable mail solutions, Cold Set shines. Its ability to print mass quantities swiftly makes it suitable for mail campaigns, offering cost-effective options for promotional materials, postcards, and flyers distributed to a broad audience.
  • Catalogs and Brochures: While Cold Set  may not achieve the intricate picture detail of other methods, it remains a viable choice. Its efficiency in high-speed production makes it a cost-effective option for businesses requiring bulk printing of these marketing materials.
  • Promotional Materials: From insert in newspapers to promotional materials like pamphlets and informational leaflets, Cold Set excels in quickly producing large volumes. This printing method caters to the rapid dissemination of information, making it a valuable asset for time-sensitive promotional campaigns.
  • Educational Publications: In the educational sector, Cold Set supports the production of academic publications, workbooks, and study guides. Its capability to print substantial quantities efficiently benefits educational institutions, providing cost-effective options for disseminating learning materials.
  • Community Publications and Newsletters: For community-based newsletters and publications, Cold Set offers a budget-friendly solution. Its ability to handle high-volume production swiftly caters to community-based organizations, enabling the printing of newsletters, event flyers, and local advertising materials.

Cold set vs Heat set

Understanding the advantages and disadvantages between the different types of printing today like Cold Set and Heat Set printing methods in the printing industry can greatly impact print outcomes for printer or printing machines. Explaining web offset limitations, one drawback is that this high-speed printing method does not handle heavy coverage ink applications or heavy ink deposit very well compared to sheetfed offset.

Cold set vs Heat set

Let’s explore a straightforward comparison of the inline key differences in ink drying, paper suitability, picture quality, production speed per minute, costs, environmental impact, and finishing options of col and heat-set web printing, offering insights into choosing the right printing technique for diverse needs.


  • Vaporizing Method: Relies on air vaporizationwithout added heat. The cooling process to dry the ink can take a long-time post-printing. Moreover, the oil in the ink might rub off on your hands.
  • Paper Types: Primarily used for uncoated, absorbent papers.
  • picture Quality: Generally produces satisfactory quality suitable for newspapers.
  • Print Applications: Mainly used for newspapers, and also print flyers which has lower quality but not too long though.
  • Production time: Cold set presses offer longer production due to air drying, limiting its efficiency for high-volume print jobs.
  • Cost: Lower initial setup costs but may result in higher operational costs for large-scale printing due to longer production times.
  • Environmental Impact: Considered more environmentally friendly due to lower energy consumption.


  • Vaporizing Method: This lithographic process uses heaters to rapidly dry with solvent until completely dry and then the paper passes through a heat tunnel then through a set of chill rolls, allowing for quick high-quality prints.
  • Paper Types: Suitable for coated papers, glossy magazines, and various finishes.
  • picture Quality: Provides sharper, higher quality more vibrant pictures and text due to rapid vaporization, resulting in higher print quality.
  • Print Applications: Ideal for magazines and lists requiring superior picture quality.
  • Production time: Offers high speed production rates due to quick vaporization, suitable for large runs.
  • Cost: Initial setup costs may be higher due to specialized equipment but can be cost-effective for larger runs.
  • Environmental Impact: Typically uses more energy due to the heat required for vaporization.

This comparison outlines the key differences between Cold Set and Heat Set printing methods, highlighting aspects such as drying, paper suitability, picture quality, production time, costs, and environmental impact for easy reference.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, coldset offset printing is capable of producing two-sided printing. The web press allows for the printing of both sides of the paper as it moves through the press, making it suitable for projects requiring printing on both sides of the paper.

UV-curing ink can be used in cold set to allow for immediate vaporization without the need for heat. It is commonly used in magazines, mail, and other high-speed printing projects where fast vaporization time is essential.

A cold set offset press consists of a printing unit, ink rollers, a web press with cylinders, a chilling system to set the ink, and a cutting and folding unit to produce the final product. The press is designed to handle continuous, high-speed printing of large volumes of paper.

In cold set offset, the substance vaporizes through absorption into the paper, while in heatset offset, it vaporizes through evaporation and a heat source, typically a dryer unit. This difference in the vaporization process allows for the use of different paper stocks and printing capabilities.


While digital advancements continually shape the printing landscape, cold set maintains its pivotal role in newspaper production. Its dedication to efficiently delivering the daily news through its specialized method remains unmatched. 

As we embrace the technological evolution of printing, let’s not forget the reliability and speed that cold set brings to our daily lives, ensuring that the latest headlines find their way to your doorstep every morning. In an ever-changing world, the legacy of cold set printing perseveres, proving that sometimes, the traditional methods stand the test of time.

If you have inquiries or desire further information on operating a print-on-demand business, please feel free to visit wlo-usa.org. We are available to assist you whenever you need guidance or support.

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