There are three printing processes available in the envelope printing industry. Below I will explain the three types with each of their advantages and disadvantages. Hopefully, this information will help you decide when choosing an envelope printing company to print your projects.
The main differences in the three types of envelope printing machines are the way the image is put on the envelope. There is offset which uses ink, usually, oil based and requires solvents to clean. Then there is toner base which is basically just like laser printers or Xerox style machines. And then finally there is inkjet. Inkjet is similar to a home or office inkjet printer but with a much larger print head that stays stationary and the envelope passed below it.
With offset envelope printing you can achieve perfect color matches using Pantone colors, inks are more dense and vibrant and image quality is superb if using metal plates. Offset machines can print at much higher speeds than toner or inkjet. The drawbacks are the time it takes to set-up the presses. The expertise the operator needs to print the envelopes and the time it takes to clean the machines using harsh chemicals. So offset is ideal for color-critical jobs or high volume jobs.
Toner-based machines can be set up quickly and do not usually need an expensive operator to run. Speeds are the slowest of the three types of machines so long runs are more costly. Toner and consumables are very expensive and add to the higher cost of running these machines. The toner also leaves a glossy sheen on the printed area that some people like and others don’t. Color matching is good on toner but will not match offset or some Pantone colors. This type of envelope printing machine is best for very small runs usually under 2500 pieces.
Then there is the inkjet envelope printing press. Inkjet has much faster speeds than toner and is just as easy to set-up and use as a toner based machine. The colors are closer to offset with no glossy sheen. Color matching is good on inkjet but will not be able to match all Pantone colors but will match very good to offset on the colors that are acheivable. Ink and other consumables are cheaper on the inkjet than toner and this with the faster speeds make it a more ideal press for longer runs up to 10,000 pieces and still able to produce very small runs affordably.