For potential printing customers, the difference between Digital Printing and Offset Printing is obvious. Digital printing is more suitable for short-term printing i.e., copying from one copy. While offset printing is more suitable for mass printing i.e., cheap start at 2,000+ identical copies.
Both types of printing can produce the highest quality print products and are suitable for professional-quality printing for business. The key factors that drive customers to choose each other are usually the number of print projects and the needs of niche projects.
There are other differences between offset printing and digital printing such as color function and paper size. In this article, we will introduce the differences between these two printing technologies and explain their advantages and disadvantages.
How Offset Printing Works
Offset printing also known as lithography is the most common type of printing used for a large number of commercial jobs. Have you ever seen a video advertised in a newspaper? This is offset printing. Offset printing technology uses printing plates, usually aluminum. These are primarily opted to transfer the image on the rubber blanket. These are then used to roll the image onto a sheet of paper.
It is called offset printing because the ink is not transferred directly to the paper. The offset printing machine can work efficiently once installed. The offset printing machine is the best choice when a large amount of printing is required. It can provide accurate color reproduction and clear and clean professional-looking printing.
The principle of operation is as follows:
First, the printer burns the design onto a metal plate, one for each color. Four colors are generally used which include cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (key), abbreviated to CMYK) but in offset printing, you also have the option to use ink colors. The most common being Pantone colors.
Then, there is the transfer of the design from the printing plate to the rubber rolls.
Then different colors of ink are made to spread on the eraser and the paper is allowed to move between them.
The paper runs through all the paper rolls, overlapping the colors to get the final image.
Types of Digital Printing
Variable Data Printing: This option allows you to customize each work for your target audience with its name and other specific information. From a simple name and address to targeted activities for customer shopping behavior, personalization can improve the response speed.
For example, in the image on the right, you can print a unique coupon code for tracking. Variable data printing can also include unique images, different codes, identifiers, and copies. Black and White Digital Printing: Nature understands the beauty that is in contrast. Black and white can attract attention; zebras, penguins, and pandas are the best examples.
Likewise, the creative use of black and white Digital Printing and Offset Printing can create exquisite printed materials. You may offer white ink that looks great on black and dark paper.
The advantages of digital black and white printing:
· Fast delivery times
· Variable data printing function,
· You can customize each work with a specific name or image
· Suitable for low volume operation
· It allows you to print a different barcode or coupon code on each piece, or print the numbers on the form
· You can print invoices, postcards, manuals, boxes, envelopes, booklets, notepads, etc.
Short Run Printing (It is optional for small quantities): This option allows you to place a smaller order containing only 100 postcards or other printed products. Using toner and liquid ink, printing does not involve plate placement.
When small quantities are needed, short-term digital printing is an affordable option.
Digital vs Offset Printing Pros and Cons
Now is the time to look at the advantages and disadvantages of offset printing and Digital Printing and Offset Printing and understand why the gap between the two is getting smaller and smaller.
1. Start-up cost: The disadvantage of offset printing is the need to prepare the initial printing plate. This is much more expensive than digital printing and, once set, the printing plate cannot be changed.
However, the cost is steadily falling and the speed at which printing plates can be replaced has increased. Since 2010, it has taken only 6 minutes, now only 90 seconds.
2. Minimum print quantity: Due to digital printing, the printing plate is created electronically, so even a single copy of the product can be printed. Due to the cost of preparing the offset plate, this method is not feasible in offset printing.
This is the main advantage of digital technology: you can only print a few copies of a book, or you can print articles on demand. However, for very large print volumes, offset printing is still an economical option.
3. Quality: Traditionally, offset printing is considered to be of higher quality than digital printing. However, nowadays, only a very knowledgeable eye can distinguish between products using digital printing and products using offset printing.
4. Format: Offset printing uses large format paper, which means that several products can be combined to reduce printing costs.
Traditional Printing vs Digital Printing
Each design project is different. When deciding which commercial printing process to choose, designers need to consider the quality and quantity they want, as well as budget and planning. The digital printing speed is very fast. It is very suitable for ID card printers and projects with tight deadlines. Due to the settings, the delivery speed of traditional offset printing is much slower.
So when choosing the commercial printing type, please carefully consider the deadline. If the deadline is short and you don’t have time, digital printing may be the best option, and always choose a reputable service provider. When choosing how to print a project, budget issues are very important. If the print volume is small, digital printing is cheaper than traditional offset printing.
If you need to quickly complete short-run printing, you need to use a digital press to meet deadlines and reduce costs. One of the main advantages of digital printing is its allowable proofing accuracy. Extremely detailed samples can be made quickly and inexpensively.
The combination of the Pantone Matching System and Pantone ink makes traditional offset presses the best choice where full control and color accuracy are essential. The four-color processing used for digital printing cannot compete with traditional offset presses at all, so if you choose traditional offset printing for color counting.
Offset vs Digital Printing Quality
If you only want to print on plain paper or card stock, the color quality is excellent. The ink dries immediately.
If you want to print on other materials or if you need a size larger than 13 x 19 inches for printing, offset printing is best. The color quality is perfect. However, the ink takes longer to dry.
Offset printing expert produces high image quality. It takes time to set up the offset press, but this ensures continuous quality. You can expect the first and last pages of the entire print process to look the same. Using a professional offset press, it is also possible to perform subsequent prints and obtain the same results with the same parameters.