What's the difference, and does it matter?
So, what's the difference between digital and offset printing? They both give you the same end result, right? Sorry, there is a difference and the difference can save you money or cost more for the same amount. Let's take a look at the differences and advantages to these two printing methods, to help you choose one or the other for your next project.
What is Offset Printing?
Offset printing uses printing plates, usually made from aluminum. which are used to transfer ink onto a cylinder which is called the "blanket", and offsetting the image from the blanket onto the sub-strait, usually paper. Because each sheet is gripped and guided through the process very tight registration can be achieved. Because offset presses run efficiently once they have been set up, offset printing is the best choice when larger quantities. Printing inks are purchased by the pound which can last several months, before purchasing new inks.
What is Digital Printing?
Digital printing gives you greater options in the medium uses for printing, instead of using plates, it can either print directly to the media or use electrostatic charges that transfers the toner to the paper, then it is adhered to the paper by use of a heat. Digital printing advantages are apparent when lower quantities; digital printers receive the commands directly from the computer vs makeing plates and setting up a press. Another benefit of digital printing is it's variable data capability. Digital printing allows you to use unique code, name or address, on each printed piece and printing it the first time through the machine vs have a second machine doing addressing, labeling and target marketing. Because offset printing uses a single plate it cannot accommodate this need.
While offset printing is an affordable way to print larger print projects, many businesses or individuals do not need large runs of 500 or more, and the best solution is digital printing.
What are the Advantages of Digital Printing:
Setup costs are lower for short runs because there is no need to create film negatives, burn plates and make sure the colors register, it is less expensive to print only the amount you need, when you need it. Min quantities (as low as 1, 20 or 50 pieces) and black and white is more inexpensive. Variable data capability (names, addresses, codes or numbering can be done easily) With improved technology, digital printing keep Improving as more sub straights and cheaper toner prices come available. With technology improving, there now digital machines for Metallic Inc, Coating and Varnishes are available.
What are the Advantages of Offset Printing:
Because the setup cost on running 500 of takes the same amount of time as running 10,000, large quantities are printed cost saving. The more you print, the cheaper the price per piece. A large variety of paper types with custom finishes can be used.
Offset and digital are both useful printing methods. Each have particular benefits depending on your project's requirements. When you need larger runs of a project, into thousands, or are using a specific, Pantone color, offset printing is the only way to go. You can also use a much wider variety of custom papers and specialty inks, such as metallic or fluorescent inks in the offset process. If a small run of less than 500
or the need for individual addresses or information is required, digital is your solution. The best part is that as a business, your needs can be met with either of these choices, and the high-level of quality means you get a printed product that will make you look great!