types of printing business

7 Most Common Types of Printing Business

If you’ve found yourself captivated by the world of printing and are considering opening a printing business, you’re not alone. The printing industry offers a diverse range of opportunities, from traditional offset printing to digital printing, screen printing, large-format printing, and more. However, with so many options available, it’s natural to feel unsure about which type of printing business to pursue. Finding the right niche for your printing business is crucial for success, as it will determine the target market, equipment needs, and overall business strategy.

In this exploration phase, it’s important to carefully assess your interests, market demand, and potential profitability to make an informed decision. So, let’s dive into the various types of printing businesses, explore their unique characteristics, and help you discover the perfect path to embark upon in the vibrant and ever-evolving world of printing.

Why Understanding the Different Types of Printing Services Important

Understanding the different types of printing services is important because it allows you to cater to diverse customer needs, select the appropriate equipment, expand your service offerings, provide expert advice, and stay up-to-date with industry trends.

By familiarizing yourself with various printing methods, you can effectively meet customer demands, offer comprehensive solutions, and position your business as a reliable and knowledgeable printing service provider. It enables you to make informed decisions, deliver high-quality prints, and stay competitive in a dynamic and evolving industry, ultimately leading to customer satisfaction, business growth, and long-term success.

7 Types of Printing Business to Start

1. Offset Lithography Printing

Offset printing or litho printing is a traditional printing technique that uses plates and ink to transfer images onto paper or other materials like wood, canvas or cloth. It works like a big stamp. First, an image is transferred onto a metal plate, where ink adheres to the areas that make up the image. The plate is then pressed onto a rubber blanket, which in turn presses the inked image onto the paper. The rubber blanket helps ensure that the image transfers smoothly and evenly onto the paper.


  • Books, catalogues, brochures, and promotional materials;
  • Newspapers and magazines due to their efficiency in handling large print runs with consistent quality;
  • Product labels and folding cartons;
  • Fine art reproductions and high-quality stationery.


  • High initial setup cost compared to other printing methods;
  • Not as suitable for short print runs or on-demand printing due to the time-consuming setup process;
  • Less cost-effective for small-scale or personalized printing projects.

Check our guide on how to start an Offset Lithography Printing Business.

2. Digital Printing

Digital printing is a modern method that directly transfers digital files onto paper or other materials using a digital printer. Instead of using plates like traditional printing methods, digital printing involves sending the digital file to the printer, which applies the ink or toner onto the surface. It offers quick turnaround times, flexibility for customization, and the ability to produce smaller print quantities. Digital printing is often used for printing documents, marketing materials, personalized items, and other print projects that require fast production and the ability to make changes easily.


  • Commonly employed for printing business documents, reports, and marketing materials like brochures, flyers, and posters;
  • Personalized items such as invitations, greeting cards, labels, and promotional merchandise;
  • Allows for on-demand printing, ideal for small print runs and variable data printing, where each piece can be customized;
  • Production of signage, indoor and outdoor banners, and even fabric printing for textiles and apparel.


  • Success does depend on the machine used, its purpose and the company operating the machines;
  • Higher costs per unit compared to traditional offset printing methods, especially for large print quantities;
  • May have limitations in reproducing certain specialized finishes or colours that can be achieved with other printing techniques.

3. Screen Printing

Screen printing, in layman’s terms, is a printing technique that involves using a mesh screen to transfer ink onto a surface, such as fabric, paper, or plastic. A stencil called a screen, is created by blocking out areas where the ink should not pass through. The ink is then pushed through the open areas of the screen onto the material beneath, creating a printed design. Its versatility, ability to produce vibrant colours and durability make it a favored choice for projects where long-lasting, high-quality prints are desired.


  • Apparel industry for printing designs on t-shirts, hoodies, and other garments;
  • Promotional products industry for producing items such as tote bags, caps, and personalized accessories;
  • Creating vibrant and durable outdoor and indoor signs;
  • Production of posters, stickers, decals, and other graphic prints.


  • Not suitable for intricate or highly detailed designs, as it can be challenging to achieve fine details with this method;
  • Can be time-consuming and labour-intensive, especially when multiple colours are involved;
  • Increase production costs for complex projects.

4. Flexographic Printing

Flexographic printing is a versatile and efficient printing method commonly used for packaging materials and labels. It involves a flexible relief plate with raised image areas that transfers ink onto various substrates, such as paper, plastic, or film. The plate rotates on a cylinder, and as the substrate passes through the press, the inked plate rolls against it, creating the desired print. Flexographic printing offers excellent print quality, fast production speeds, and the ability to print on a wide range of materials.


  • Widely used in the packaging industry
  • Commonly employed for printing on flexible packaging, such as plastic bags, pouches, and wrappers;
  • Good for corrugated boxes, folding cartons, and labels;
  • Can be used on different substrates, including paper, plastic, film, and foil;
  • Used by food and beverage packaging, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, or consumer goods.


  • Less suitable for small print runs or projects requiring intricate details;
  • Achieving consistent colour accuracy can be a challenge;
  • Ink viscosity and plate wear can impact the colour consistency.

5. Large Format Printing

Large-format printing refers to a printing technique that specializes in producing oversized prints on a larger scale than traditional printing methods. It is commonly used for creating large visual displays, such as banners, posters, billboards, vehicle wraps, and signage. Large-format printing utilizes wide-format printers that can accommodate materials with greater width, allowing for the production of prints in sizes that can range from several feet to several meters in width. This printing method offers high-quality, attention-grabbing prints with vibrant colours and crisp details. It is an effective marketing tool for businesses, event organizers, and advertisers seeking to make a bold visual impact.


  • Advertising and marketing
  • Producing eye-catching outdoor and indoor signage, billboards, banners, and posters;
  • Utilized in trade shows, exhibitions, and events to create impactful displays and backdrops;
  • Point-of-purchase displays, window graphics, and wall murals that enhance the visual appeal of stores;
  • Architectural and construction fields for creating large-scale diagrams, floor plans, and construction site signage;
  • Brand promotion, communication, and visual storytelling across various industries.


  • Relatively costly compared to smaller-scale printing methods
  • Logistics and installation of large-format prints can be challenging
  • Requiring specialized equipment and expertise to handle and mount the oversized prints properly.

Check our guide on how to start a Large Format Printing Business.

6. 3D Printing

3D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is an innovative technology that enables the creation of three-dimensional objects from digital models. It involves the layer-by-layer deposition of material, typically plastic, metal, or resin, to build up the desired object. A 3D printer interprets a digital design file and constructs the physical object by adding material layer by layer until the final product is complete. This technology allows for the production of complex and intricate shapes that may be difficult or impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods.


  • Product design and development for rapid prototyping used by designers and engineers;
  • Employed for creating customized medical implants, prosthetics, and surgical models in the healthcare sector;
  • Manufacture lightweight and complex parts for aircraft, reducing weight and enhancing fuel efficiency in the aerospace industry;
  • Rapid prototyping, tooling, and even printing functional parts for vehicles in the automotive industry;
  • Use in jewelry making, architecture, education, and artistic creations.


  • Relatively slow printing speed compared to traditional manufacturing methods;
  • Less suitable for mass production;
  • Cost of materials and equipment for 3D printing can be higher compared to traditional manufacturing techniques.


LED UV refers to a type of UV (ultraviolet) curing technology used in printing and coatings. Unlike traditional UV curing systems that use mercury-based lamps, LED UV employs light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as the light source. LED UV offers several advantages, including energy efficiency, longer lifespan, and instant on/off capabilities. It emits a narrow band of UV light that is focused on the curing process, resulting in faster and more efficient drying or curing of inks, coatings, or adhesives on various substrates.


  • Wide-format printing, signage, labels, and packaging;
  • Industries like electronics, automotive, and aerospace for curing adhesives, coatings, and sealants;
  • Favoured for its eco-friendly features, as it emits minimal heat and does not contain mercury;
  • Industries that require quick drying, improved productivity, and reduced environmental impact.


  • Higher upfront cost compared to traditional UV curing systems using mercury lamps;
  • Limitations in terms of the thickness and coverage of the cured layers;
  • Required multiple passes or adjustments in the printing or coating process to ensure complete curing.

Understanding the different types of printing services is crucial when considering starting a printing business. Each printing method offers unique advantages and disadvantages, catering to specific needs and industries. Each type has its own niche and market. By researching and analyzing the target market, evaluating equipment and cost considerations, and considering the specific printing requirements of potential clients, aspiring entrepreneurs can make informed decisions to start a successful printing business. By offering the right printing services, quality products, and exceptional customer service, a printing business can thrive in today’s competitive market, catering to the diverse needs of clients and making a lasting impact in the industry.

Once you have determined the type of printing business you want to start, having the knowledge of the best printing equipment becomes essential. The right equipment can significantly impact the quality of your prints, production efficiency, and overall business success. Conduct thorough research on the specific equipment needed for your chosen printing method, considering factors such as print volume, print size, colour capabilities, and additional features required for your target market. It’s important to evaluate the reputation, reliability, and support offered by different equipment manufacturers. It is also important to know proper quick maintenance checks to ensure optimal performance, reliability, and longevity of your printer equipment.

Consider consulting our industry experts at PRINTFINISH, attending trade shows, or reaching out to suppliers like Printers Parts and Equipment to gain insights and make informed decisions. Investing in high-quality, reliable printing equipment ensures that you can meet customer demands, maintain consistent print quality, and ultimately establish a solid reputation in the printing industry.