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A lot of times when discuss the numerous printing methods available when producing the type of documents we provide to client, they find all of this very confusing.

The reality is there are many different types of printing equipment that is commonly used with producing diplomas and certificates and transcripts. The reasoning as to why some types of machines are used other others, often comes down to cost and access.

This page breaks down the different types of method most commonly used.

Techniques used for Diploma Printing

Offset Printing Technique

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A closeup of a fake high school diploma created using offset printing techniques.

Often called offset lithography, offset printing is a mass-production printing method in which metal plates containing images are transferred (offset) onto rollers (also called blankets made of rubber) and then onto the diploma document. The diploma itself does not come into direct contact with the plates which prolongs the life of those plates.

The main advanced of offset printing with diplomas is it’s constant high and consistent image quality. The process can be used for some runs including individual diplomas or large scale runs, including producing diplomas for thousands of graduates.

There are two types of offset printing machines common used today. The first is called, “sheet-fed offset printers” where individual sheets of diploma paper are feed into the machine. The paper used for diplomas is often cut to size or trimmed after the printing is done.

The other type of offset printing is “web offset printing” which is where large and faster machines are used. In the case a large continuous roll of diploma paper is feed into the machine. Sheet feed printing is often more popular and cost effective for large-volume publication printing such as books. It is not commonly used with individual documents such as diplomas or certificates.

Engraving Technique

Later we will discuss the method of raising inks or lifting prints, which is the thermography technique. Here we will discuss the opposite, which is engraving the print where it feels indented into the diploma or certificate paper.

With this an engraving plate is used and images or text are carved into the plate. Years ago, these would have been chiseled in but now with the help of modern technology like lasers, the images can be carved out in a much faster timeframe.

The paper is then laid over the plates and pressed into it, using a large amount of pressure, causing those elements to feel recessed into the document.

Like thermography, engraving techniques are costly because an engraving plate has to be created for every element (seal, particular text, etc) that you want featured on the diploma. In many cases, certain elements that are repeated on every diploma including the seal will be engraved but other elements that often change per diploma such as the student’s name, is simply written you. You will notice, this same rule applies to thermography printing techniques also.

Thermography Technique

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A closeup of a university diploma featuring thermography printing! Look at raised letters and foil overlay!

When we talk about thermography printing techniques, we get into what most people really want to see when it comes to printed diplomas.  This is because most customers want to rub their fingers over the diploma itself and feel certain elements, such as the text and images, feel raised or pushed up. This method is achieved because of thermography techniques.

This technique is achieved through combining traditional printing methods along with a thermography process. First any elements on the diploma which will be raised, are printed first. A thermogrpahy machine is used to apply thermograph methods to those elements.

A thermography machine is constructed using a conveyor belt. The belt first applies a power polymer coating to the entire sheet. This costs the elements you want raised (such as the text and seals, etc). The excess power is then vacuumed off. The belt then puts the diploma through a heater which heats the powder that has coated the inks, forcing the ink to expand and harden giving the raised texture many have come to expect.

Thermography printing is more commonly found on elements of the diploma that do not change, from student to student, including diploma’s signatures, the seals and logos and emblems, school name, etc.  In most cases, elements such as the student’s name and degree and major, parts of a diploma, that will differ from student to student, are printed individually but not printed with thermography diploma printing techniques to their complexities.

This allows a diploma printing company to quickly produce thousands of diplomas at once with raised elements because they can focus on the unique characteristics including student names and graduation dates and degree details at a large time.

Fake Diploma Printing FAQ

It really comes down to the actual document we are trying to replica. In many cases, a customer will tell us what they absolutely love when they see thermography printing techniques on a diploma or that they really want offset printing.

In most cases, the actual diploma or certificate that they want us to replicate does not use these particular method.

Our production and design team keeps detailed notes about each diploma we have on file including information on the signatures, the seal’s placement, and even the type of printing method used. When you place an order, we go through the notes and talk to the printing department about your document and what we expect of them, so they are prepared when the document is marked ready to be printed.

Often the decision comes down to cost or resources available at the time of printing. Case in point, a large college or university with more students, therefore more money coming in, and higher budget, can produce a higher end diploma for graduating students.

Other times, smaller schools with less money to spend will cut cost by lowering the print quality of their diplomas.

This is not always the case, as some smaller private schools with bigger judges have been known to put out high end certificates. And there have also been cases of established schools, staying true to their history, and creating what looks to be low end diploma printings to capture an infamous diploma look that their graduates have come to expect.

It often comes down to the price per diploma. In most cases a printing company will lower it’s price per diploma printed depending on how many diplomas are being requested at once. Let’s say a school needs one thousand offset printed diplomas and the printing companies charges x-value per diploma. Now if that same school requested ten thousand offset printed diplomas, the printing company would likely offer them a much lower price per unit. This means that schools with more students, who can put in large requests for graduate diplomas each year, can get a better rate on diploma printing and put what they are saving towards a higher quality print request.

Since most diploma printing costs, are established per unit (or per diploma printed), some smaller schools unfortunately suffer.

This is because they can only put in some many requests, and since their orders are smaller, their cost per diploma printed goes up.

This also becomes an issue with reprints. If a student needs to replace a lost or damaged diploma, the school will put in a request with it’s printer. A lot of times they may hold off on the actual printing until enough requests are made and the overall order is large enough to lower the cost per diploma printed. This means that some students looking for replacements may need to wait weeks or even months before the actual printing takes places.

In other more rare cases, diplomas are so expensive, that many schools do not even offer a replacement option at all. In those cases, former students have not choice but to consider websites which produce high quality custom diplomas, often sold as fakes.