The Difference Between Offset and Digital Printing

If you are versed in the printing business, you have probably heard of digital printing and offset printing. These are two types of printing that act as competitors in this world, each offering their pros and cons.

People have often wondered if there is a difference between the two. This is because when placed side by side, a digital print and offset print look almost identical. However, this is not to say that there is no difference.

However similar they may be, these two types of printing have significant differences that make them ideal for some functions and wrong for others. The first difference between these two is in their definitions.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a type of printing that uses toners such as in laser printers on larger printers that do not use ink. Digital printing is best used for lower quantities such as greeting cards, wedding invitations, and flyers of 10 pieces.
Digital printing offers the advantages of variable data capability. This means that it can print a unique code or name in need be.

Offset Printing

The name offset was given to this printing method because the ink does not transfer directly onto the paper. On the other hand, offset printing uses specialized technology known as plates that are made from aluminum.

They are used to transfer the print onto a rubber throw. They then roll the pattern onto a sheet of paper. One of the most significant advantages of offset printing is that it can produce large quantities with accurate color for each item.

Differences between Digital Printing and Offset Printing

The following are some of the most common differences between digital and offset printing:

  • Size– as you can already guess from the definitions, digital printing uses smaller sheet sizes. Digital printing machines can go up to 29-inch sheets but no higher. Offset printing, on the other hand, uses larger sheets of 29 and 40 inches.
  • Price– for short runs, digital printing is quite affordable. It is also relatively inexpensive when you consider black and white digital printing. However, bulk orders in digital printing are typically expensive. On the other hand, offset printing is quite expensive for single runs. However, the price becomes cheaper, the more items you print. Therefore, it is ideal for large quantities.
  • Time– digital printing is fast because it does not take a lot of time to set up. Digital printing places offer same-day or next-day printing, even for bulk orders. Offset printing, on the other hand, takes more time to complete. This is because it would call for multiple placements of plates and time to properly ink the plates.
  • Color and image– offset printing naturally offers higher quality images, especially for large prints. The color is also what is known as ‘true.’ Offset printing is also ideal for when you need multiple colors. Digital printing, on the other hand, is best for when you need fewer colors or need black and white printing.

Which Is Right For My Next Printing Project?

Both offset and digital printing are suitable printing methods. Each has its advantages, which is not necessarily a disadvantage on the other. However, each is designed to work for different projects for the best results.

If your project calls for larger runs such as hundreds or thousands, offset is the way to go. It will be much cheaper and will fit on the papers you want. Offset printing can print on larger size sheets. Offset also offers a more significant variety of custom papers and inks, including metallic and fluorescent inks.

If you need a small production of 100 or less, digital printing is the way to go. If you need individual addresses or specific information on your projects, then the best way to go is digital printing.

The Bottom Line

There are many factors to consider when selecting between these two forms of printing. The most important thing to look out for, however, is the quality you will get from each. Whatever your needs may be, ensure that the type of printing you chose will give you high-quality results. While the price is a concern, it should not stop you from getting the best quality.

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