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Offset and Digital Printing: Choose the Best Method for Your Design

offset and digital printing

Offset and digital printing are both useful methods to print designs. There is a common misconception that printing is just printing, but that is not that case. Each type of printing has its separate distinctions and best uses. As two of the most advanced methods of printing, it is important to understand each and find the best technique for your upcoming print project.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is an extremely common printing method today. In this method, a design is printed directly from the digital image to your desired medium. First previewed on a computer monitor, your design is then sent to a digital press which interacts directly with the computer. There are no additional steps; an image is quickly and easily sent to be printed on the surface of your choice. Digital printing is achieved either through Laser or Inkjet printing. Laser printing defines the area of an image on an electrically charged cylindrical drum through the use of lasers. Then the drum selectively picks up toner made of powdered ink and transfers it onto the printing surface. Meanwhile, Inkjet Printing uses droplets of ink to project onto a surface in tiny dots that comprise a final product.

Advantages of Digital Printing:

  • Highly efficient in low volume prints
  • Lower cost for short runs
  • Minimum quantities can be as low as 1, 20 or 50 pieces
  • As technology improves, so does the digital quality
  • Minimal setup requirements leads to fast turnaround time for your printing order
  • Hard proofs can be printed with ease at a fraction of the cost of more traditional methods
  • Many businesses do not need large runs of 500 or greater, often making digital printing the best solution for businesses


Offset Printing

Developed over a century ago, offset printing technology has unique characteristics that make it the best printing method available for large volume print runs. Offset printing is a technique that consists of a series of cylindrical rollers and etched plates that transfer a design to the desired surface, mainly paper. It uses oil-based liquid inks, which are critical to the high-quality production process. Offset printing can be used with CMYK or spot colors, and up to six colors can usually be loaded at one time depending on the characteristics of the particular press. Different than the one-step printing process of digital printing, it is referred to as offset because the ink is not transferred directly onto the surface.

Advantages of Offset Printing:

  • Highest possible printing quality
  • Considered the best quality choice for large runs
  • Most efficient for commercial printing
  • Accurate color reproduction
  • Crisp, clean, printing that looks professional
  • Excellent reliability and consistency.
  • Cost effective in large quantities; the more you print, the cheaper the price per piece
  • Offers a wide variety of paper types with custom finishes that can be used
  • Custom inks are available
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