The term "printing industry" refers to the field of industry involved with creating printed materials such as books, flyers and advertising. It the is not the same thing as the book publishing industry, which is involved in finding writers and introducing them to the market, as opposed to the actual printing of the published material. The printing industry can be divided into several categories, such as commercial printing, book printing, prepress services and business forms.
Although printing usually refers to ink and paper reproductions of text or graphics, it can also refer to the process of printing clothing or other items through a process called screen printing. This industry is responsible for the application a person filled out to get his or her job, the printed designs on the clothes he or she wears, the labels on products purchased, the books read and the advertisements that appear in one's mailbox. All of these areas combine to create a composite known as the printing industry.
A major part of the commercial printing industry is the creation of custom printing work, periodicals and advertising media by printing companies. These companies charge a set fee to produce printed works for businesses, groups and organizations. They commonly produce employee handbooks and training guides for businesses. Printing companies also create customized calendars, letters for direct mailing campaigns and magazines for groups and organizations that seek to spread the word about their cause or common interest.
One of the most common techniques in use by the printing industry is offset printing. The printing equipment used for offset printing makes it possible to print newspapers and other periodicals in a rapid yet cost-efficient manner. The offset printing equipment transfers the ink from a plate to a rubberized surface and then transfers this image to the material to be printed.
By utilizing technology such as screen printing and offset printing equipment, production of better quality and more economical print materials has become possible. With the lowered costs of printing, even small businesses can afford to have commercial printing companies produce the forms and other printed materials they need. For this reason, almost every other industry has some reliance on the printing industry to complete its own job functions.