top of page
Search

Offset Printing vs. Digital Printing

Updated: Dec 11, 2023

Printing technology advancements have helped us produce high-quality projects with unique designs. For this purpose, we also needed diverse production methods. Thus, we explored the differences between offset printing vs digital printing.


These two major processes are great for undertaking print jobs because they can produce colorful projects quickly and efficiently. However, offset printing and digital printing have their differences and unique advantages to meet the needs of distinctive printing projects.


In this article, we will discuss which printing method is more suitable for large-scale printing projects. We will also explore the technology needed for each technique and the cost difference.

Offset Printing vs Digital Printing
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: alterfalter

Offset Printing vs Digital Printing


Modern printing can benefit businesses selling promotional products. We are lucky that nowadays, we have a chance to experiment with different types of commercial printing to provide our clients with the best quality projects.


When comparing digital printing vs offset printing, we consider a few factors like affordability, preciseness, and the expected outcome of each final project. Although both printing methods are great options for businesses, they may serve slightly different purposes.


Offset printing is often referred to as lithography. This printing method involves using a consistent technique to maintain color matches precisely. Such features make it ideal for high-volume commercial printing.


These types of projects only require a static printing technique, which makes them unsuitable for personalized prints. Before technological advancements appeared, only black ink was used for offset printing.


On the other hand, digital printing is known as a more modern printing technique due to its use of laser and inkjet technologies. It helps us quickly create high-quality, full-colored projects, including brochures, fliers, and mailings, and personalize them based on our client's needs.


Although both offset printing and digital printing have captured the high-volume market, they differ in the following ways:


Technology


The first difference between digital printing and offset printing is connected to the machines we use in each technique. We utilize separate technologies to get the images transferred on paper.


Offset printing requires the use of etched metal plates to apply the ink onto a sheet of paper. We find the setup for offset printing time-consuming because each metal plate needs to be etched separately and divided by color.


The metal plates are then applied to the rollers to transfer the ink directly onto the paper. Next, we run the offset press for a few minutes on sheets of paper. We do this until we ink each plate properly.


In contrast, we use electrostatic rollers for digital printing to apply toner and color to the sheet. Then, we fuse the toner with a high-heat unit directly on the paper, which is less time-consuming than the setup of offset printing.


The technology used in both methods can also affect the volume of printing. Offset printing is a great choice for businesses that need larger quantities of prints. However, businesses that need short-run prints done quickly can benefit from digital printing.


Color representation


Although the color representation of digital printing is software-managed, offset presses can provide better color controls.


For instance, we can create a more precise color management system of Pantone ink compared to digital prints with offset printing. This is a very important factor for businesses that consider color consistency crucial for their projects.


Quality


Are you wondering what is the main difference between offset printing and digital printing? The latest technologies used in digital printing have improved its quality and made it more dependable than the offset technique.


The inkjet printing process used in digital printing has revolutionized the industry to improve the quality and speed of the final projects. This technology has helped us create projects with various finishes to add maximum value to our prints. We rely on its production process for high-quality digital prints.


The improvements in digital printing have increased its popularity in the industry. However, the quality of offset printing is still higher than digital print. The offset technique produces crisper images and more accurate colors, even if the projects are printed on large sheets.


Sheet size


We typically run smaller sheet sizes with digital printing, around 19″ up to 29″. In comparison, offset printing usually runs presses between 29″ and 40″ sheets.

Due to this, wide-format presses for short-run printing can be performed better with digital printing. On the other hand, offset printing can easily accommodate various sizes, including large sheets.

Sheet size
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: DmyTo

Turnaround times


Digital printing provides us with unmatched turnaround times because of the minimal setup time. Due to this, digital printing is ideal for tight deadlines and fast project delivery.


In comparison, working on multiple projects with offset printing would require multiple plates and time to ink the plates properly. This results in longer setup and ink drying time.


Cost


Many clients often wonder which printing method is more cost-effective: offset printing or digital printing. The offset printing vs digital printing cost difference depends on the setup requirements and quantity of prints.


Offset printing is more costly than digital printing as it involves a larger setup cost for pre-flighting, plate preparation, and ink loading for spot color work. We wouldn’t be able to get a few printed pages with offset printing without investing in those initial costs.


Once the setup is complete, offset printing costs decrease if the quantity increases. For example, 1,000 copies can cost only 5-10% more than 500 copies. However, if the quantity is lower than 1,000 copies, digital printing, which requires minimal setup, is the more economical choice.


Conclusion


We can see they offer different advantages when comparing offset printing vs digital printing. Offset printing is great for producing high-volume prints. However, digital printing is ideal for fast project delivery.


Learning the main differences between these two printing methods may help you choose the most suitable one. It depends on your business's specific needs and requirements. So, if you need commercial printing services to enhance and build your brand, contact us now!


bottom of page