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Offset Printing vs Digital: Who Comes Out on Top?

For the commercial printing industry, sales will grow by 1.5% to 2.5% in 2019. This translates to $87 billion in new business. This means the printing and direct mail industry is continuing to grow and is not going anywhere!  Tapping into direct mail marketing is a big opportunity for any businesses continued growth.  Knowing how to get the best “bang for your dollar” though will be key in keeping your costs down and ROI high.  This is where knowing the difference between digital and offset printing comes in and how to best leverage the two different types of printing.

Want to learn more about offset and digital printing?

Keep reading!

Worker in printing and press centar uses a magnifying glass - offset printing

What Is Offset Printing?

This is a printing method of mass-production printing in which the image gets transferred from a plate to a rubber blanket and finally the printing surface. Offset printing is a planographic method of printing because the material is flush with the plate’s surface.

What Is Digital Printing?

As a method of printing, a digital based image gets transferred directly onto the printing surface. Unlike offset printing where the use of aluminum plates is common, digital printers rely on toners and liquid ink.

Offset vs Digital Printing

In commercial printing, both digital vs offset printing are useful. Problem is, they are very different in many aspects. In this post, we discuss the differences between offset vs digital printing.

  1. Cost

Firstly, when it comes to cost, digital printing is cheaper for short-run printing. The reason for this is because digital printing requires less set up costs. Problem is, it costs higher per unit.

For offset printing, cost decreases as units increase. This is because the machine needs a wash between color changes. For longer runs, it’s cost effective.

  1. Turnaround

Secondly, digital printing is suitable for short runs and the setup costs are cheaper. As such, it allows printers to provide a quick turnaround.

In offset printing, the setup and maintenance costs are higher. This makes offset printing to have a slower turnaround time.

  1. Color Matching

In digital printing, printers use a toner (laser) and ink (inkjet). The system has a four-color matching process plus the CMYK mode. As such, digital printers can print grayscale and CMYK but not true colors like Pantone.

For offset printers, you have four ink rollers – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. Here is how it works. Ink gets applied on a printing plate which is then offset to a sheet of paper via a rubber blanket.

As such, offset printing is perfect for jobs that need a Pantone match.

  1. Printing on Different Surfaces

Lastly, digital printers are able to print on paper only. The reason for this is due to the printer design which cannot accept other types of materials. When it comes to offset printing, it is easy to print on many surfaces.

For instance, you can print on round containers, sleeves, wrappers and plastic bottles.  Offset lithography is the best for printing on fabric, metal, and canvas. An offset printer is able to achieve this because of the flexible rubber blanket.

This offsets the image onto any material.

Offset Printing vs Digital Printing- Which Is the Right Choice?

There are a few factors to keep in mind when deciding between offset printing and digital printing. They include the type of work you are printing, proofs, the volume and ability to customize.  Remember, always make a smart decision as this will better serve your business and needs.

For more information on offset and digital printing and how you can save money, get in touch with us today!

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