Offset Printing Vs Digital Printing

What's the difference, is this difference important?


So you’re looking to get a marketing collateral printed – maybe a business card, a brochure or maybe even both. You’ve taken the time to come up with the perfect layout, color scheme and design and you’re ready to print, but then you get asked – offset or digital printing?

What is offset printing? What is digital printing? And what are the advantages of one over the other.

In this article, we’ll take a look at these two printing methods, their differences, and the advantages of each over the other.

What is Offset Printing?

Simply put, offset printing is a printing technology that involves the use of aluminum plates to transfer a picture onto a rubber "blanket", and then onto a sheet of paper. It is referred to as offset due to the fact that the ink isn’t put directly on the paper. This printing technology is your best bet when you’re looking to print much larger quantities. People love it because it gives an accurate color reproduction, is crisp and prints very clean.


What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing on the other hand doesn't use plates, it however uses options such as toners or liquid ink (larger printers use liquid ink). Digital printing is generally used when fewer quantities are required; for instance, a run of 20 business cards or 50 flyers. Another advantage of digital printing over offset printing is the fact that data can be easily varied. When each print requires a unique name, address or code, digital is definitely the way as offset printing can’t handle this.

While offset printing is an awesome way to produce clean and rich print projects, many individuals or businesses do not need large quantities of 500 or more, and most times end up using digital printing.


What is Large Format Printing?

Though slightly unrelated, I decided to include this here because sometimes; depending on the size of your printing job, you may need to go with large format printing – so what is it? As the name implies, large format printing refers to very large print jobs that usually start at 18.” It is sometimes referred to as grand format printing or wide format printing.


What Are The Benefits Of Digital Printing?

  • Print only the amount you require whenever you need it
  • Lower setup costs for short runs
  • Lower minimum quantities (as low as 1-50 pieces)
  • Cost effective black & white digital printing
  • State of the art technology has made digital quality widely acceptable.
  • Variable data capability (names and addresses can be changed easily)


What Are The Benefits Of Offset Printing?

  • Larger quantities are printed at a cheaper rates.
  • Price gets cheaper with print volume
  • Several paper types with can be used, even those with custom finishes.
  • Offers the best possible printing quality, with color fidelity and greater detail.
  • Custom inks including as Pantone and metallic colors are available.


So Offset Printing Or Digital Printing, Which Is Ideal For My Next Print Project?

This depends totally on your needs as both are great – but for different purposes. If what you have is a large job that runs into the 100s or 1000s, or if you are tied down to a specific, brand centric color, offset printing is definitely your best choice. Offset printing is also a great choice for you if you’re looking to use a much broader variety of specialty inks and custom papers, such as fluorescent or metallic ink.

On the other hand, if what you need is have is a small printing job of less than a hundred runs then digital printing is the way to go. If you’re also looking to make a lot of changes, e.g. addresses, names, contact details, then digital is the only real choice you have.