Digital vs. Offset Printing: Advantages of each and how to decide which is right for your project.
The growth of digital printing technology has
brought technical advancements, more options, and exciting new features
to today’s commercial
printing. It's also brought some confusion. An understanding
of the advantages and disadvantages of digital printing
and how those compare to traditional offset lithography
is critical in making the right choice.
Offset lithography is the most common high volume commercial
printing technology. In offset printing, the desired print
image is burned onto a plate and is then transferred (or offset)
from the plate to a rubber blanket, and then to the printing surface.
The lithographic process is based on the repulsion of oil and water.
The image to be printed gets ink from ink rollers, while the non
printing area attracts a film of water, keeping the non printing
Digital printing eliminates many of the mechanical
steps required for conventional printing, including making films
and color proofs, manually stripping the pieces together and making
Well, it seems that depends.
|| High image
on a wide range of printing surfaces including paper, wood,
cloth, metal, leather, rough paper and plastic.
The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up.
Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs. While today’s
digital presses are close to the cost/benefit ratio of offset
for high quality work, they are not yet able to compete with
the volume an offset press can produce.
offset presses use computer-to-plate systems as opposed to the
older computer-to-film work flows, further increasing quality
||High image quality.
||Works on a wide range of printing surfaces including paper, wood, cloth, metal, leather, rough paper and plastic.
||The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up.
and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs. While today's digital
presses are close to the cost/benefit ratio of offset for high
quality work, they are not yet able to compete with the volume
an offset press can produce.
Many modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems
as opposed to the older computer-to-film work flows, further
Use this checklist to help decide:
Quantity. Offset printing has a front-end cost load. Short runs may have a high unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing. Very short runs can be much more cost effective with digital printing; while larger quantities are likely to have a lower unit cost with offset printing.
Printing medium. Do you need or want a special paper, finish or unusual printing surface, or unique size? The options are increasing continually for digital, but offset printing still offers the most flexibility.
Color. Digital presses use four-color process printing. If you need only black ink or one or two ink colors, offset printing may offer a more cost-effective solution. If you need four-color printing, digital may offer advantages in lower up-front costs.
More on color. If you’re planning to print
using the Pantone® Matching System, offset printing
will give you the best match, since it uses actual Pantone®
ink. Digital printing simulates the color using a four-color matching
process, so some digital printers may offer less accurate color
matching on projects.
Turnaround. If you need it fast, digital usually offers quicker delivery.
Proofing. Digital offers accurate proofs since you see an actual sample of the printed piece. Accurate color proofing for offset printing can be expensive.
Customization. Without question, digital printing offers the most affordable way to customize marketing materials, direct mail pieces, letters, etc.
Use the above checklist to help you decide and talk to your printer before submitting your job for advice on preparing files properly for the option you choose.
At Clarkson Graphic Services, we can help you with your all of
your digital & offset printing needs. We can provide your business
with catalogues, business cards, envelopes, labels, presentation
folders or any of your other business printing needs
using either digital or conventional printing processes.
Contact Clarkson Graphic Services today for a quotation.