Offset and Digital Printing: What’s the Real Difference?
September 6, 2018
All printed pieces are not created equal. Whether you want a big batch of business brochures or a couple of store signs, one printing process serves your purposes better than the other. The trick is knowing which one you need. The two most common printing processes are offset and digital. Find out which one works best for your project.
What Is Offset Printing?
Offset printing, also known as lithography, uses etched metal plates to transfer images onto a rubber roller or mat. First, an image is burned onto the plate. The image is then transferred to the roller, which prints it on paper or another surface. Images are high-quality, crisp, and detailed. And they are precise in color. Custom colors can be created from mixing inks, which provides accuracy.
What Is Digital Printing?
A more modern process, digital technology, such as laser and ink-jet printing, does not use plates or rollers. Instead, the image is sent directly to the printer from a digital file. The process uses either powdered toner or liquid ink. Because the images are transferred electronically, it’s easy to customize any text or graphic.
What to Consider When Choosing Between Offset and Digital Printing
If you’re shopping around for printing services, there’s a few things to consider when choosing between offset and digital.
Does size matter? It does for posters and larger pieces. Digital printing usually accommodates smaller sheet sizes, while offset printing can accommodate larger pieces. Posters, larger brochures, and signs are usually printed with offset.
Are you on a tight budget? For larger print runs, you get the most for your money with the offset process. Offset requires more money at the start of the job because of the setup fees for creating the plates. If you have a large print run, the setup fees are well worth it, because price per piece decreases as the print run size goes up. For printing less the 500 pieces, digital does it more cost effectively.
How soon do you need it? Creating the plates for offset printing also takes time. Often, digital print jobs have a turn-around time of a day or two, sometimes even the same day. Forget offset for last minute projects.
Need customized pieces? Digital printing provides plenty of options. Personalized letters, addressed envelopes, and postcards with different dates and locations for events are easily manipulated because information is pulled from electronic data files.
Counting on color? Offset printing offers the best match if you are using the Pantone printing system. This is the choice if your company logo requires accurate and consistent color for each piece.
Materials make a difference. There’s more flexibility with offset printing. It accommodates a variety of paper types and finishes. Some offset machines can even print on plastic and metal.
Let the experts at Disc Hounds help you choose between offset and digital printing for your project. Call us today at 610-696-8668 and we’ll provide you with professional, high-quality printed materials.
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