Which is better for your business—digital or offset printing? There are two primary considerations in choosing between digital vs offset printing:
1. The Quantity Of Printings You Want
2. The Quality Of The Printing
Print media is one of the most critical marketing media which needs to be perfect that will enable you to have a significant impact on your customers and clients. Customers need to smell the paper, turn the pages, feel it on their fingertips. It is a physical experience, making offers as a complete experience. All in all: it’s real, physical, and gives your business extra credibility. Everything from great design, an attractive color scheme and to great layout must be perfect.
So which one should you use? While it is true that the right choice of printing method for your project can save you time, money and stress, you will have to decide on a case-by-case basis whether offset or digital printing is best suited for your needs.
Why Offset Printing?
Offset printing gets its name because the ink used is not directly transferred to the sheet paper, but is offset onto another cylinder before being applied to paper. Offset printing derives its name from the fact that the printing technique is not direct. Before printing can begin, an initial warmup run on scrap paper must be done to ensure that the metal plates are adequately inked.
Offset printing utilizes aluminium-based plates, or plates made from a similar metallic material. For every color during the printing process, a separate metal plate has to be used. Each plate has to be laser etched using information from a digital file of the image. The plate is attached to a roller, known as the plate cylinder, which will transfer ink to another cylinder with a rubber sheet known as a blanket, which then rolls the ink onto paper, vinyl or whatever print material is being used.
Traditionally, offset printing uses four-color printing machines with a series of four ink rollers, one for each specified ink: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. This can be a must when working with clients that use unique colors for their logo or branding, which cannot be off by even a bit. Besides, offset printing allows for special finishing or varnish to be applied as the last stage.
When it comes to offset printing, a particular emphasis is placed on the durability of the print and its profitability, especially when it comes to larger quantities of materials to print. That’s why offset printing is recommended for printing brochures, posters, business cards and other supplies for companies or individuals. It has a high image quality, and you can expect the first and last sheet of an entire print run to look identical.
For low-quantity print jobs, offset printing is costly and time-consuming. It takes a considerable amount of time to create a plate and set up an offset printer. If you only need a few copies, the time spent on the initial setup will make offset printing more expensive than digital printing.
Why Digital Printing?
The digital printing process does not use aluminium plates with the image etched onto them. Instead, the image is digitally transferred from a computer to the digital printing machine. Digital printing uses electrostatic rollers, more commonly known as drums, to apply toner to sheets of paper. This is a similar process used by most inkjet printers.
Digital print is characterized by the fact that it has excellent image quality. The print is consistent throughout, and there is no requirement of balancing water and ink. Each print is identical. You risk fewer odd variations caused by imbalances in water and ink.
Digital printing allows for quick turnaround times, as there are minimal setup requirements compared to offset printing. It makes digital printing cost-effective for smaller print runs. A digital press can easily print out a single sheet of paper or booklet with minimal setup. So digital printing is better suited for short-run printing, starting at 1 single copy.
There are also some downsides of digital printing; for example, the print is not so accurate in case of gradients, tints, and large substantial areas. Colors get fully absorbed, and this means cracks can appear in case of edges that are folded after finished publication. Also, less color fidelity is possible with digital printing because digital jobs use standard inks that cannot exactly match all colors. Offset jobs use specially mixed inks, which will always be a closer match. Digital is improving and getting closer with blended inks, but those inks still do not match as well as a custom mix.
Both types of printing produce print products that are extremely high in quality and fit for professional quality printing for businesses. The most significant difference between offset printing and digital printing is that digital printing is better suited for short-run printing and offset printing is better suitable for higher volume printing.