A comprehensive A-Z guide to all the print processes past and present

Our Guide to all the print processes


[A--B] - [C--D] - [E--F] - [G--H] - [I--J] - [K--L] - [M--N]

- [O--P] - [Q--R] - [S--T] - [U--V] - [W--X] - [Y--Z]

Click on the first letter (above) of the name you seek as a print process



ANODISED ALUMINIUM This can be seen on numerous small badges and nameplates and is an 'acid-etch' process in a limited range of colours. The (faceplate) is anodised (after etching and a protective film applied) to (say) Black, Blue or Brown. Still a common process used in Computer nameplates and many 'scratch proof' electrical fascia plates - where durability is still in high demand.

BARCODING (product coding) The final 'machine read' label on product or box.

BLUEPRINT (architectural favourite for cheap 'large format' prints using 'ammonia' and UV lamp process)

BLOCK PRINT (Letterpress basis for all metallic foil finishes with either deboss or emboss print finishes)



CRASH NUMBER PRINTING (still used for raffle tickets and other promotional items)

C-41 PROCESS (the name of the process of negative to print colour print from photo-labs)

C-type print. The highest quality achievable color photographic print (related to E6 film processing).

CMYK PROCESS (the standard Lithographic four colur CYAN, MAGENTA, YELLOW, BLACK print process)

CHROMALIN (proof used to show how Printing would look and separate (a check on colour and registration)
DIGITAL PRINT (inkjet) Can be small inkjet price receipts to large format colour prints. Variable quality.

DIGITAL PRINT (generic term) is often used when the print device is undefined. This can be problamatic.

DEBOSSED (deboss is the opposite of emboss) Deboss gives an indentation to card or paper (often used for Gold or Silver metallic foiling)

DYE-SUBLIMINATION Print. A form of inkjet that infuses a colour 'ribbon' onto photographic paper using a heat transfer process. Can be high quality and usefull for very short run photo printing.



ETCH (ACID) PRINT Similar to Anodised print (above) requires an Acid -etch batch to remove unmasked areas.

ENGRAVING (This can be achieved in a number of ways, etching, hand engarving or mechanical inscribing)

E6 PROCESS (the name of the Kodak transparency process used for making transparency slides)

EMBOSSED (emboss is the opposite of deboss) Embossing gives a raised (3D) effect to paper or card
FILM-SETTING (imagesetting or film typesetting purpoused for (artowork) page assembly or film plates.

FINISHING (folding, scoring and embossing) The final stage of printing is usually 'Guillotine' trim to size
FLOOD COAT (see seal coat)

FLEXOGRAPHIC (used entirely in liquid packaging) and invented by Scandanavian firm TETRA-PAK to print (using rubber plates) onto newly developed multi laiminated cardboard on a continuous role in a factory. Typical early uses were MILK CARTON using simple flat spot colours and imagery, now reformed into a full colour print process.



GICLEE Prints (Fine art printing is the higest standard of 'one off' short run printing comparable to IRIS prints)

GRAVURE (Used by national newspapers such as The Observer Sunday Newspaper in England)

GLASS-ETCH (A print process requring a rubber template mask and sand etch spray equipment)

HOT-METAL (No longer used Newspaper industry process of using molten lead fed into type foundries directly typeset by the Typesetter into blocks and then pages to print as in Letterpress on a much larger scale).



IRIS PRINT (fine art) Now redundant was the 'benchmark' for Fine art prints (more an airbrush than an inkjet)

(See commercial LIGHTJET or LAMBDA prints for comparable image quality example here).

INLAY (Foil block but van be any cut-out element on a printed page)

IMAGE-SETTING (see film setting) Creating the film seperations that printers need to print (print plates).


LASER IMAGING often used in digital film setting offering 3,000+ dpi (rather than the office 300dpi)

LASER-ETCH (CD or other plastic such as pen engraving)

LETTERPRESS (Traditional block text printing is still used. (See block print)
LITHOGRAPHIC PROCESS (Almost all colour commercial printing uses the lithographic colour process)

LITHOGRAPHIC PRINTING is a non commercial printing exclusively used by Fine Artists (by hand and press)

LAMINATION (finish applies to the finished printed item. Usually a gloss (or matt) thin plastic film

LARGE FORMAT (Inkjet primarily but could also be a higher resolution Photographic print using a laser based print process known as LIGHTJET or LAMBDA for exact Display (or exhibition gallery display quality).

MONOPRINT/BLOCK PRINT. A forerunner of wallpaper/ textile printing favoured by LIBERTY Prints using wooden blocks repeated across for a pattern effect. A Victorian favourite of William Morris at Abbey Mills, London



OZALID process is similar (if not identical) to the BLUEPRINT copy print process using Ammonia and UV light.

PANTONE (PMS Spot colour) Specific colour prediction using 'colour chips' to match ink (SPOT) colours

PMT PRINT (film/bromide plate camera). Largelly redundant large format film camera used to size black and white lithographic film and graphic elements as b/w 'lith prints' sized for a specific artwork.



QR codes are those you see printed on Tube posters linked to web pages for your (smart) mobile phone here
REPROGRAPHICS: The generic term encomposses the Graphics industry and print production.

ROUTER: not a typical print process but can be used on wood and metal to deeply incribe/engrave a monogramme/Text onto material permenantly for effect or decoration



SCREENING (photo dot resolution. Varies according to the limits of the print process used). See RESOLTION calculator on our photo resolution page here.

SPOT COLOUR (an extra colour or finish applied during or after print process)

SEAL COAT (matt or gloss finish to protect printed item and enhance colour)

SCREEN-PRINTING (Often termed the oldest print process invented by the Chinese to print posters can be used in a wide variety of ways usefull for printing on non standard materials and shapes other than paper such as mugs and shop and display items as well as 'SIGNS'.

SPRAY MASK (template usually using VINYL CAD cutters to cut-out a mask for spraying

THERMOGRAPHIC PRINTING (heat raised Ink often used to duplicate the look of a 'deboss' finish)



UV COAT (finish coating can be used interchangeably with (below) Varnish)
VARNISH (finish can be used to 'seal' the printing from scuff marks and rough use)
VINYL LETTERS were originally 'die-stamped' but are now cut-out using standard CAD Vinyl-cutters that can also be combined with 'large format' digital printing. Often used for external signage as the letters are self-adhesive for easy application for many retail display surfaces (including glass and laminates).



WOOD BLOCK (monoprint see MONOPRINT above)
XEROX The original laser printer was trade marked 'xerox'. In effect a 'laser' photo copier.



The last word 3D in PRINTING is a new concept of 'building up' layer by layer a structural component which is faster than 'machining' the item from scratch plus it can be duplicated just like printing.

And example of that is here and will herald a new world of printing techniques: here

This is a work in progress...


Our helpful INFORMATION Guides:

(1) A guide to UK and EU Copyright
(2) A
Glossary of Photographic terminology
(3) A guide to Photo resolution
A guide to perceptive colour
(5) A guide to internet security
(6) A guide to zero VAT printed items
(7) A guide to the print processes
A guide to Latin publishing terms
(9) A
guide to Economical (Euro) paper sizes
A guide to simple logic based games!