OFFSET PRINTING VS. DIGITAL PRINTING
We often get the question - "What's better, offset or digital printing?" And our answer is always - "Well it depends!" So here is what it depends on, and here are the advantages and disadvantages of both.
First, some Print Definitions:
Offset Printing - An image is transferred, or "offset," from a plate, to a rubber blanket, to the sheet of paper where the ink is applied. Those inks can be a four color process (CMYK) or a combination of Pantone (SPOT) colors. The plate is created (using computer-to-plate technology) prior to printing and contains the printed image. Plates are created in separations for the colors being used. For example, if a 4 Color CMYK press is being used, four plates, one for each color is created. Because of set up, offset printing is intended for larger runs, with longer turnarounds.
Digital Printing - Images are digitally transferred to paper using lasers, positive and negative static charges and either dry toner or liquid suspended toner particles. No plates need to be created and varying images can be transferred to paper quickly and efficiently. Digital presses differ from standard laser printers in the tight tolerances they are kept in, technologies developed in the offset world, and the graphics arts software that controls them. They also offer sheet sizes up to 14"x26" and up the 350GSM in weight.
Benefits of Digital Printing:
- Fast Turnaround to meet tight deadlines
- Fast Set Up and no Plate Creation
- Less waste
- Variable Data (VDP) is available
- Because there is no costly set up, digital printing is cheaper for shorter runs
- On Demand Printing is available
Benefits of Offset Printing:
- Slightly better image quality (although that is becoming more debatable as digital press technology advances)
- Larger range of Media Handling (some offset presses can print on wood, plastic, cardboard, metal, and leather)
- The higher the volume, the less expensive it is to print
- Larger sheet size possible on larger presses