Digital vs. Offset Printing

There is a lot of confusion between digital and offset printing, and which one is better.

First thing to note, is neither is “better” both have advantages and disadvantage. Understanding these can help you make the right choice for your project.

How they work

Offset printing is where the desired image is burned onto a plate and is then transferred from the plate to a rubber blanket, and them to the printing surface.
Using oil and water, the image gets ink from the ink rollers, while the non printing get a layer of water and this keeps the non-printing are ink free.

Digital doesn’t require plates to be burned. The printer works how your printer as home does, printing straight onto the printed sheet.

Advantages of Digital

Shorter turnaround.
Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during press run.
Cheaper low volume printing.
Digital presses use a four-colour printing process.
Customizable digital printing. Text and graphics can be changed on each piece without stopping or slowing down the press.
E.g. Personalised Wedding Invitations can be printed with a different name on each print.

Advantages of Offset

High image quality.
Wider range of printing surfaces including paper, wood, cloth, metal, leather, rough paper and plastic.
Cheaper high volume printing.
Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs.

Not sure which is right for you?

Use this check-list to help decide:

Quantity: How many you plan on printing will effect which type of printing will be available.
For certain types of printing, digital is up to 500-2,000. Where as offset will start as low as 5,000.
Offset has a set-up cost, that is why higher runs are more cost effective.

Printing medium: Do you need or want a special paper, finish or unique size? Digital has consistent options, but offset printing offers the most flexibility.

Colour: If you need only black ink or one or two ink colours, offset printing may offer a more cost-effective solution. If you need four-colour printing, digital may offer advantages in lower up-front costs.

More on colour: 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 colour using a four-colour matching process, so some digital printers may offer less accurate colour 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 colour 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.

If you need help deciding feel free to phone us on 0800 12 9876 and we will be happy to help.