What's the REAL difference, and does it matter? So, what's the distinction between digital printing and offset printing?
Not exactly... Let's take a look at these two printing methods, and where it makes sense to choose one or the other for your next print project.
Offset printing technology uses plates, usually made from aluminum, which are used to transfer an image onto a rubber "blanket", and then rolling that image onto a sheet of paper. It's called offset because the ink is not transferred directly onto the paper. Offset printing is the best choice when larger quantities are needed, and provides accurate color reproduction, and crisp, clean professional looking printing.
Digital printing doesn't use plates the way offset does, but instead uses options such as toner (similar to laser printers) or larger printers that do use liquid ink. Digital printing shines when lower quantities are needed; think of a run of 20 flyers or 500 newsletters. Another benefit of digital printing is it's variable data capability. When each piece needs a unique code, name or address.Offset printing cannot accommodate this need.
While offset printing is a fantastic way to produce greatlooking print projects, many businesses or individuals do not need large runs and the best solution is digital printing.
Advantages of Digital Printing:
- Setup costs are lower for short runs
- Print only the amount you need, when you need it
- Lower minimum quantities (as low as 1, 50 or 150 pieces)
- Inexpensive black and white digital printing
- Improved technology has greatly improved the overall print quality of digital
- Unlike offset, digital production presses incorporate bindery functions such as collating, folding, trimming and stitching all in line, thus reducing and in some cases eliminating additional bindery charges altogether
- Digitally printed materials can be turned around in half the time traditional offset jobs take
Advantages of Offset Printing:
- Large quantities can be printed cost effectively
- The more you print, the cheaper the price per piece
- A large variety of paper with custom finishes can be used
- Special custom inks such as metallic, Pantone colors and aqueous coatings are available
- Depending on the press, a higher possible printing quality, with greater detail and color fidelity is not uncommon