The Old Way of Commercial Printing

Modern technology has not given way to better quality commercial printing outputs but also fast and efficient service. About 20 or so years ago, when you go to a commercial printer they usually only had letterpress machines and one-color offset machines. The letterpress printed those one-color jobs like receipts, manuals, inside pages of textbooks, or company newsletters. The offset machines are the ones taking care of colored printing.
But since these are one-color machines there are many disadvantages, the foremost of which is time. If you are going to print a four-color material on a one-color machine, which means that the commercial printer will have to print four times on the same paper in order to produce the colored material. Here is how it goes:
1. The colored layout is processed by an image setter that produces four sets of films for the Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black printing. If you will look closely at these films, you will see that some parts are light; some parts are dark, while some parts are completely empty.  The blank parts mean that a certain color is not needed to print that area while the light part means that this particular color needs to be mixed with other colors. The dark area could possibly be a solid portion where the color density is high.
2. The operator will load the first film, which is cyan, and run the presses. This will only print the cyan color. All the printed pages will then be laid out to dry, which could take several hours. After the first color is dry, the second film is loaded along with all the papers that have already been printed with cyan. The operator will then print the magenta over the cyan. The process will be repeated two more times with the yellow and the black inks. All the time, the operator will have to be careful to load the paper carefully in the paper rack because a slight nudge could cause the registration to be off and the final output will be blurry. This could be a reason for the client to demand a reprint.
Aside from being time-consuming, the images are not as sharp because they no matter what the operator does, there can still be a slight discrepancy in the registration. After all, the commercial printing process is far from perfect.
Eventually, two-color machines came out and thus the process became faster and the presses had better quality turn outs. But not too many printing companies immediately bought two-color presses when these were released because of these were also very expensive. Many companies continued to use the one-color machine because they could not afford to shell out a big amount of money for the two-color. About five years after the two-color machine was introduced, many companies started buying because the price already went down significantly.
These were the hassles of commercial printing in the past decades. It was so frustrating on the part of the printer and the client that the process could not get faster during the one-color period. But people were just happy that they could have colored materials, even if these are delayed and not really of good quality. But now, if you want to be a commercial printer, you have to invest in four-color machines because people now want fast and good quality printing.