Offset and Digital Printing Distinctions

Offset Printing: What Is It and How Does It Work?

Plates, which are typically made of metal, are used in the offset printing process to transfer an image onto a rubber “blanket,” which is then rolled onto a piece of paper. Offset printing is so named because the ink is not deposited immediately onto the paper. Offset printing is the best option for larger quantities because offset presses run so efficiently once set up, producing accurate color reproduction and crisp, clean professional-looking printing.

What Exactly Is Digital Printing, and How Does It Work?

Unlike offset printing, digital printing does not use plates and instead relies on toner (as in laser printers) or large printers that use liquid ink. Consider a run of 20 greeting cards or 100 flyers to demonstrate where digital printing shines. Another benefit of digital printing is the ability to print with a variety of data. When each component needs a unique identifier, name, or location, digital is the only way to go. This is a requirement that offset printing cannot meet. Learn more about the various kinds of digital printing and their applications. While offset printing produces high-quality print projects, many organizations and individuals do not require large print runs of 500 or more, and digital printing is the best choice.

An important printing consideration: For high-volume runs, offset printing is the best choice. Small runs will cost more per unit than digital printing because offset printing has higher initial costs. Short-run digital printing methods are ideal. Digital printing eliminates much of the setup and upkeep required by offset printing. Because offset printing does not allow for custom print soap boxes, digital printing is the only choice for custom candy boxes. Variable data, such as names or addresses, can be printed on each piece without having to stop or slow down the operation. If the print piece needs the use of the Pantone Matching System, offset printing will provide a precise match. Pantone colors cannot be fully matched with digital printing; however, very close hues can be obtained.