Digital Printing Vs Offset Printing: Which One Should You Go For?

Both digital printing and offset printing have a role to play in the printing world depending on what requirements need to be met.  Read on for a brief guide to both types of printing and an outline of their respective advantages.

Digital printing: the process

The process of professional digital printing is much the same as what goes on in your home digital printer.  Instead of using traditional techniques, digital printing uses lasers inside the most advanced equipment to produce high quality images.

Offset printing: the process

Offset printing is a more traditional way of printing and is probably still the most popular printing technique.  A design is burned onto a plate, then offset from the plate to a rubber sheet, and then transferred to the paper, card or printed material.  The technique takes advantage of the repulsion between oil and water; the image will pick up the oily ink whilst the non-printed areas will become covered in a film of water ensuring a crisp image is produced.

Digital printing vs offset: which should you choose?

Quantity and timeframe normally become the deciding factor between offset and digital printing as well as cost.  If you need a lower quantity of print outs, but want them fast, then digital printing is the way to go.  Alternatively, if you’re printing a large quantity then it’ll be better to go for offset as unit costs go down as quantity increases.

In the past offset printing was considered to produce much higher quality images, but with technology rapidly advancing in the digital world the difference is now marginal.  Offset printing is likely to give you better solid screen tints and prints PMS colours more easily than digital printing.

Digital presses use CMYK colour process printing.  This means they combine four different colours to produce a tone.  If you only need one or two colours of ink to produce your print then, you may want to go for off-set as it’ll probably be more cost-effective.  On the other hand, if you need a few colours digital is likely to be a lot cheaper.

If you want to personalise your prints then digital printing gives you the opportunity without a huge cost, so if you want to do some unique marketing then digital may well suit you.

Overall there’s no reason to see digital printing in competition with offset printing.  Both have a role to play in the printing world and both satisfy different needs depending on what you are after.

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