From the time of its invention in the mid-15th century until the modern era, letterpress printing was the only game in town. If you needed information applied to paper, this was the method that was used. The second half of the 20th century saw the advent of offset printing, which largely supplanted letterpress for most print activities.
Today, with the rise of digital technologies and electronic communications, printed materials are being asked to do more, to excite more of the senses and to create an emotional connection between the viewer and the information on the page. Beautiful to the eye and with a highly tactile sensation, letterpress printing has returned as a preferred print technique.
At Rohner Press, we used metal-backed photopolymer plates to impress ink onto thick, toothy sheets from a variety of mills. Our pressmen are skilled craftspeople who all have an eye for color, impression, and design.
We could not be happier to see this traditional print technique come back reinvented and reinvigorated to meet the needs of today’s designers, artists, marketers, creative business types, and makers.
Engraving is a print technique that creates raised images on paper (which is just the opposite of letterpress). To achieve this effect, an impression is etched onto a metal plate. During the printing process, this plate filled with opaque ink, and when paper is pressed into the plate, it creates raised areas that also absorb the ink, creating that raised image.
The engraving process is about line and exactitude. While letterpress has a more “organic” feel to it, engraving is about extreme detail and represents the most legible of all processes… and it always communicates a message of solidity and sophistication.
Letterpress printing has seen its popularity rise since Rohner Press opened its doors in 1997, but foil stamping has really come into its own over just the past five years.
While letterpress printing involves the application of ink to a plate, which is then pressed into a sheet of paper, foil stamping involves the transfer of an image via a metal die that releases the foil onto the sheet with a combination of heat and pressure.
Letterpress inks are translucent, which means that the underlying stock will affect the viewer’s perception of the overall color. Foils are opaque, which make them an effective technique for printing light colors on dark stocks, particularly when a design calls for a true white on a black sheet.
Foils can be elegant and they can be playful. They can be used on their own or they can accentuate another print technique. Whether in their matte or gloss form, foil’s opacity creates a reflective visual experience that makes a truly bold statement.
Offset lithography or “flat printing”, works by first transferring an image photographically to thin metal, paper, or plastic printing plates. Unlike Rohner’s other forms of specialty printing, offset lithography printing plates are not recessed (like engraving) or raised (like letterpress).
During the printing process, rollers apply oil-based ink and water to the plates. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil-based ink won’t adhere to the non-image areas. Only the inked image portion is then transferred to a rubber blanket that then transfers the image onto the paper as it passes between it and another cylinder beneath the paper. The term offset refers to the fact that the image isn’t printed directly to the paper from the plates, but is offset or transferred to rubber blanket that then makes contact with the paper.
We typically use offset printing to supplement our other print techniques or to create designs that cannot be achieved using them. While offset printing does not have the tactile sensation of our other print processes its ability to effectively create full fields of color is invaluable to our work.
To create a three-dimensional design or image, choose embossing. In embossing, heat and pressure combine to reshape the surface of the paper to create the image. There are several different styles of embossing:
Single-level A single level emboss is exactly what the name implies. The area being embossed is raised above the surface one level.
Multi-level/Sculpted Most often used for illustrations where detail is needed, a multi-level emboss adds extra dimension. For a sculpted emboss the area being raised is more of a contour and there is not one distinct level.
Beveled This style of single-level embossing features beveled, rather than straight, edges.
Like engraving, thermography creates raised images but with a powder that is applied to wet offset ink and run through a heating tunnel that causes the powder to melt and expand. Thermography’s tactile sensation is much like the experience of touching a crayon, waxy and smooth.
Edge painting has a rich history in engraving—for centuries, master bookbinders gilded the edges of books with gold, to show a preciousness. So now this modern spin: we hand-paint the outside edges of our paper to highlight an existing color in the design or to introduce an entirely new color. Edging is most striking in medium to dark colors.
Die cutting is not just for pocket folders anymore. With our in-house die cutting equipment, we can produce interesting shapes and clever “see-throughs.” If you’re looking to add an interesting twist to your project, consider die cutting.
Envelope converting is an essential service especially for our stationery clients with needs to match custom made paper or unique sizes. Rohner press can convert your flat sheets or printed stock to envelopes in a variety of stock sizes or any custom size between 3 x 4 inches and 6 x12 inches
REQUESTING AN ESTIMATE Complete the quote request form found here. Your response will typically arrive in one business day… but during our busiest periods, it can take just a bit longer.
APPROVING YOUR ESTIMATE If you like your numbers, we require a 50% deposit to get your work into production, and we accept all major credit cards. The balance will be charged when your job ships. Our estimates do not include shipping because we won’t know your project’s weight until it is complete. We do include shipping costs on your final billing.
SUBMITTING YOUR FILES Some general guidelines when creating files:
• Create your files using Adobe Illustrator or InDesign, outline your type, include crop marks, and please send along a PDF version of your work.
• Letterpress is about line art and not as much about printing full fields of color. (There are exceptions and workarounds, but we did want to let you know this at the start.)
• Line weights should be .3 point or thicker and things like small floating dots will not hold on our plates.
• Specify letterpress as solid, uncoated PMS colors; foil colors are selected from specific manufacturers’ samples.
• Letterpress inks are translucent, which means that the underlying stock will show through. Given this fact, dark stocks will mute light colors. Foils are opaque and do not let the stock show through. If you really want white on a black stock to pop, we recommend using this technique.
APPROVING YOUR PROOFS We will send you a digital proof generated from your files for approval, which will include individual color separations. We will not begin work on your job until you have sent a response email stating that we can move forward. This proof is for layout purposes only as we match the PMS or foil colors of your choosing. Press proofs can be produced upon request at an additional cost.
PRINTING If you have questions about the color approval process, we do welcome press checks. Please note that failure to arrive on time for a press check can result in additional press charges.
DELIVERY A standard letterpress job ships about 10 business days from proof approval. If your job requires additional techniques besides letterpress, we might need to add additional production days. If you need something faster than our general timeline, we would need to discuss a rush fee, which typically adds an additional 50% charge to your job.