Offset or Digital Printing, Which is Better?

By  //  March 20, 2020

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The word of printing has a lot more to it than the average person realizes. There are different means and ways that people get the job done, as well as different pigments and sources that correspond with the methodology.

The word of printing has a lot more to it than the average person realizes. There are different means and ways that people get the job done, as well as different pigments and sources that correspond with the methodology.

When we talk about modern printing, it generally falls under two categories: offset or digital. As with any age-old battle, there are pros and cons to each side.

There are situations in which one will outshoot the other, and vice versa. It’s really about how you set up your personal criteria for judgment.

So, in an attempt to clear the air and answer some questions about how things are printed, here’s a guide and review of each. 

Offset Printing

Offset printing first showed up on the scene in 1875 as part of the printing press patented by Robert Barclay. A modern offset printing press actually uses a “middle” plate or cylinder that contains what needs to be printed. It then transfers it to a rubber “blanket” or “offset” cylinder which, finally, presses onto the paper.

The ink isn’t put directly on the paper, which is why it’s called an offset printer. This method has been used regularly for the past century and is still a staple in the way we distribute physical copies of things.

The most recognizable work of offset printing is a newspaper. When a newspaper is “hot off the press” that means that it’s been imprinted by the offset cylinder just that morning.

Offset printing is a wonder if you have to make massive quantities of something. That is why it was adopted by the newspapers. 

Digital printing is a much more abbreviated process than the offset method. Instead of having all the technical expertise and massive moving parts, digital printing applies pigment directly onto the paper.

Digital Printing 

Digital printing is a much more abbreviated process than the offset method. Instead of having all the technical expertise and massive moving parts, digital printing applies pigment directly onto the paper.

The whole drum process and middle rubber and aluminum cylinder business is something that is not at all feasible for personal use. That’s why every printer you have in every home is a digital printer.

Digital printers use either liquid ink or powder toners and imprint the image on the paper at speeds that work best in household use. 

So Which Is Better?

The main thing you have to think about is the size of the job. If you’ve got 2000 things you need to be printed in record time, the offset printer is going to be the best choice.

Offset doesn’t make sense for lower volume jobs, though. The cost to get it going has to be justified. Also, if you make a mistake on an offset printer, it’s going to be reproduced across the entire batch of products, so make sure you edit the source material well. Digital printers are perfect for low cost, low volume jobs.

If you have 20 small posters you need to be printed, digital is going to be the right tool for the job. The problem with the digital printer is that color fidelity is just not as good as offset printers due to the toner standards. 

In the end, the details of the job really dictate your choice. High volume calls for your offset printing. Lower volume is definitely a job for a digital printer. Like all things, keep in mind the quality you are trying to achieve as well as the quantity. 

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