Technical Contrast between Offset Printing Vs Digital Printing

The distinction between offset printing vs digital printing is significant for potential print clients since offset publishing is better suited for greater volume production (i.e., it begins to be cheap at 2,000+ identical copies). Digital printing, on the other hand, is more suited for small runs (i.e., beginning with one single document).

Both offset printing vs digital printing processes yield printed materials of an exceptionally high caliber, suitable for top-notch commercial printing. Customers frequently choose one over the other based on the volume of the print production and the demands of the specialty venture.

There are more variations in offset print vs digital printing, including color possibilities and sheet sizes. Learn about these variations and how they apply to purchase an image!

What Really Is Offset Printing?

It sometimes referred to as lithography, is frequently used for print tasks done in quantity, such as newspapers, magazines, flyers, and brochures. Let’s examine how it functions to comprehend it. 

One plate uses for each color to apply ink using scratched metal plates to a paper sheet. The most frequent colors used are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (key), abbreviated CMYK. However, it can also make use of Pantone-style bespoke inks. 

After being transported from the plates to the rubber rollers, the design is then used to print ink onto paper. If the leaves are not correctly inked, the press operates on sheets of “scrap” paper for a few minutes. Paper sheets pass through rubber rollers that imprint the pattern once the inks are ready.

The most frequent colors used are cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (key), abbreviated CMYK. The printing surface is subsequently covered with the picture. Since the ink is not immediately transferred to the paper while printing, this process is referred to as “offset.”

This approach is typically the best choice for printing huge volumes. The initial investment to set up the equipment is costly, but as the number of units rises, the cost of new units decreases significantly.

Various print materials may be employed during production thanks to offset printing.

It enables the printer to work with various inks, customized finishes, and papers. It is the method of choice for graphic designers who want the best color reproduction, detail, and professional-looking prints because of the high-quality pictures it produces.

What Does “Digital Inkjet Printing” Entail?

It is high-speed inkjet or laser printing from a digital picture source. It doesn’t utilize plates as an offset printer does. Instead, it uses toner similar to that found in laser printers or more significant printers that may employ liquid ink. It is suitable for low-volume activities (think 20-30 greeting cards or 100-150 flyers).

In reality, you may print jobs with various data sets using this printing method. Digital publishing, for instance, enables you to print something different on each sheet of paper if you need to print ten greeting cards, each with another name or address.

Ink is deposited directly onto the surface to illustrate thermal and digital inkjet printing. An image is transferred using liquid ink rather than metal plates and rubber blankets with inkjet printers. One of the most powerful digital marketing printing technologies is using conventional household inkjet printers.

No manual setup is necessary for it. It works well for lesser number runs. For small-scale applications, laser printing is significantly more expensive.

Due to the lack of configuration essentials, a digital imprint is a speedy technique that may accomplish work quickly or meet a deadline. Maximum personalization is also available with printing technology. If a position requires specific client names, such an approach is successful since each component is modified.

The Advantages of Offset Printing

  • Better color fidelity relates to the colors’ correctness and how well-balanced they are in the design. It will naturally provide accurate color since it can mix unique color inks for each project.
  • Almost any type of material uses with it without any issues.
  • Image quality that is consistent and excellent. It ensures crisp, precise lettering and graphics with no streaks or stains.
  • Users get more value for their money with high-volume jobs. Starting an offset work is expensive. You must invest money to create the plates, which takes time. However, once you’ve invested in it, all of the supplies are ready to go, and you’ll pay less on large offset projects than on digital prints, which are around the same per piece, regardless of size.

The Perks of Digital Printing


  • Inkjet printing, instead of other printing, provides a quick turnaround time.
  • Each print is the same. You can expect fewer unusual variations produced by water and ink imbalances.
  • Low-volume tasks are less costly. Laser printing is less expensive per unit. Therefore, they eventually cross.
  • Changing information within the context of a single print job. Assume you were printing up postcards to promote performance. You might modify a portion of the batch’s dates and locations to produce two sets of cards for two versions.

What Sets Digital Printing Apart from Offset Printing?

The two primary printing techniques utilized to generate printed documents are digital and offset imprinting. Although they both fundamentally produce the same thing, their methods differ. Over 100 years have passed since offset publishing first appeared.

Metal plates were used to generate printed items, and ink was deposited to them using rubber rollers before being transferred to impression blankets and ultimately onto paper. Ink is applied directly to the form in the printing machine when using the relatively new digital publishing technique. 

Since recent developments in the field of digital imprinting, it is challenging for the casual observer to recognize between offset printing vs digital printing processes.

The Procedure of Offset Printing

As previously stated, it necessitates the creation of bespoke metal plates for each new print job. Not only that, but if they require the conventional four CMYK process colors (cyan, magenta, yellow, and key [black]), they must produce a metal plate for each ink color.

Although they demand reduced upfront expenses in plate manufacture, one-color or two-color printing solutions are frequently seen with this printing. Such color mixing allows much more control over the shade output, especially when PMS (Pantone matching system) pigments are included in the combination.

Pantone colors are special inks that allow manufacturers to produce shades outside the CMYK light spectrum.

It takes time to make these metal plates; once made, they only modify, incurring high costs. As a result, it is typically utilized for long-run print projects in which each sheet is printed at least 1500 times (usually more). 

The lower the cost per page of artwork generated, the more copies of that artwork will produce. As a result, it is not suggested for short-run printing tasks or works with changeable data, such as invitations or personalized messages.

The Process of Digital Printing

There are no upfront manufacturing expenses with this printing. Once the printer receives the digital artwork file, it will be insulated and sent to the machine. Industrial digital printers are typically laser printers that employ toner to print artwork directly onto the paper. 

It offers a far faster turnaround time than other printing and is ideal for small-run print projects since there is no upfront investment for plate manufacturing.

Laser printing was traditionally better than virtual printing in color management, but this has altered in recent years. With the development of specialist metallic and fluorescent inks, digital printers can create a broader range of colors than ever before, rivaling offset imprinting’s color dominance. 

The cost of digital printing is very stable, independent of quantity (excluding any post-printing operations); as a result, the price rises reasonably regularly. As a result, long-run print projects are typically better suited to laser printing, which is less expensive per item printed in more significant numbers.

The Different Technology Used in Offset Printing Vs Digital Printing

The variance in technology between the two manufacturing methods, offset printing vs digital printing, is in how images are transmitted onto paper. This variation impacts the cost economics of running the digital printers’ gear, and this cost difference is passed on to the printing customers.

In order to apply ink to a sheet of paper, offset publishing needs etching metal plates. It requires substantially more time and money to set up than virtual printing. On the rollers that transmit the ink to the paper are the metal plates that have been chipped (one plate for each color used).

 In order to ensure that the plates are properly inked, the offset press handles “scrap” sheets of paper for a short period of time before discarding them.

Digital printing, on the other hand, employs electrostatic rollers known as “drums” to apply toner and add full color to the paper. The drums, one for each color generated, utilize an electrostatic charge to attract toner in the form of toner concentration. After that, the toner is deposited on the sheet and fused (applied to the paper using a high-heat instrument).

With minimum preparation, visual printing can print one sheet of paper or a booklet copy. However, offset publishing necessitates significantly more setup time and material. The ink and paper used by an offset press are less expensive than those used by digital media, but the savings are only noticeable if the print job is of sufficient scale.

Most organizations use digital printers for regular, rapid, and continuously changing print content. On the other hand, firms that don’t alter their material and print in volume usually go with offset printing.


If you intend to print a project and need clarification on the printing process, you may come across the words visual printing and laser printing. If people believe that printing is publishing and that these two concepts are unimportant, you are erroneous. Knowing the distinction between offset printing vs digital printing are two printing forms that allow you to select the ideal option for your future job.

Each print project has unique needs that may dictate whether it should be offset or digital. In recent years, small print runs have grown in popularity as a way to keep up with society’s quick pace. Digital printing has come a long way toward matching the quality and speed of other printing, and it is only going to get better. 

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