Digital printing and offset printing are the two leading publishing strategies available to business owners and everyday consumers. For people new to presswork, the difference between them might be confusing, and professional printers know it. If a business doesn’t offer both offset and digital printing, their sales team may try to push one over the other, which could end up costing you more money and time, depending on the size and demands of your project.
No matter what kind of physical medium you’re looking to create – signages, printed t-shirts, or flyers – it’s essential to understand the benefits and drawbacks of these two competing technologies.
Digital and offset printing are ubiquitous printing techniques because they offer unbeatable reliability, performance, and cost-efficiency. In this explainer, our technicians at Rite Envelope and Graphics, Inc. will take you through an in-depth journey through each printing method to help you determine which one is the most suitable for your print job.
The Difference Between Digital vs. Offset Printing
Offset printing is a production methodology where technicians transfer an image from a metal plate to a rubber mat and then to the printing surface. They dip the printing plate in ink and then lower it onto the substrate, which can be everything from a comic book, movie poster, or postcard. Offset printing is the most popular way to create catalogs, magazines, and books.
Digital printing outputs images and texts by a computer-controlled print head onto newsprint, glossy paper, cloth, and other mainstream substrates. Many technicians say that as more people leverage artificial intelligence, digital printing may be the final word in publishing. It differs from traditional printing methodologies as it can offer higher precision and printing speeds while helping print shops save on production space.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Offset Printing
Offset printing is a production technique that historians trace back to the 1600s, and publishers still use it widely today. Professionals consider it a traditional printing method as the word offset originates from the offset of pigment on a printing surface, the textbook definition of printing.
Offset printing keeps colors on images and texts consistent as technicians can make multiple impressions and runs with the metal plate, ensuring your final product is 100% crisp with no blurring.
Although offset printing is one of the most common printing methodologies, it still comes with a few disadvantages even after centuries of refinement. First, offset printing is slow. Technicians have to apply each color to each page individually, which can be time-consuming.
Offset printing uses four plates, one for each color, to print text, images, and anything else that needs to be transferred to a medium. It does not allow for full-color printing, limiting the color gamut to CMYK only. This constraint is an issue for marketers, as most buyers want attention-grabbing brochures and posters with 100% color accuracy.
For publishers, offset printing also causes excessive wear and tear on the press, making it more expensive to run in the long term.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Printing
The benefits of digital printing are numerous. For starters, digital printing is environmentally friendly, and it helps save natural resources with higher printing accuracy, which creates less production waste and consumes less energy.
Digital printing is faster as it uses toner and reactive ink to print various images or text onto fabric, paper, or plastic. Unlike offset printing, which requires a separate plate for each color, digital printing works using one printing plate to reproduce the broader color gamuts. However, it has a few notable drawbacks.
Paper does not absorb 100% of the reactive inks in the digital printing process, which can cause cracks or color variations along the edges when people flip through or fold it. Ink durability is usually not a problem with traditional offset printing.
Digital printing is also more expensive for large orders due to the materials it requires and the limited number of surfaces it can utilize. Offset printing is typically more cost-effective for projects with a thousand articles or more.
If you need your media fast, digital printing may be the way to go. However, for larger orders, offset printing is usually the best option.
Offset vs. Digital Printing: Which Should I Choose
Digital and offset printing both have their strong and weak points and choosing the right one can be a tough decision for any budding business owner. Offset printing is more expensive upfront but offers better cost-effectiveness and a longer shelf-life. Digital printing is quick, accurate, and inexpensive but not as durable.
Make the right call with guidance from experienced technicians at Rite Envelope and Graphics, Inc. Call us today at 866-575-4542, and we will give you a free consultation.Tags: Digital vs. Offset Printing