Digital vs. Offset Printing: Advantages of Each and How to Decide which is Right for Your Project.
The growth of digital printing technology has brought technical advancements, more options, and exciting new features to today’s commercial printing. It’s also brought some confusion. An understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of digital printing and how those compare to traditional offset lithography is critical in making the right choice for your next project. At mgsprint.ca we offer both options to our customers and help guide them in the direction that most meets there needs.
Lets have a look at these 2 printing types.
Offset lithography is the most common high volume commercial printing technology. In offset printing, the desired print image is burned onto a plate and is then transferred (or offset) from the plate to a rubber blanket, which is then transferred to the printing surface. The lithographic process is based on the repulsion of oil and water. The image to be printed gets ink from ink rollers, while the non printing area attracts a film of water, keeping the non printing areas ink-free.
Digital printing eliminates many of the mechanical steps required for conventional printing, including making films/plates and colour proofs, manually stripping the pieces together and making plates, which in turn speeds up the process and lowers the initial setup costs.
So … The Question everyone has is …Which is Better for me? Well, it all depends on what you are looking for and your timelines to achieve it.
The Most Common Advantages of Digital Printing:
- Shorter turnaround as setups are minimal.
- Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during press run. Print and Go.
- Cheaper for low volume printing. While the unit cost of each piece may be higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are included digital printing provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs.
- Variable Data Printing is a form of customizable digital printing. Using information from a database or external file, text and graphics can be changed on each piece without stopping or slowing down the press. For example, personalized letters can be printed with a different name and address on each letter. Variable data printing is used primarily for direct marketing, customer relationship development and advertising. (This requires proper setup)
The Most common Advantages of Offset
- High image quality.
- Works on a wide range of printing surfaces including thicker paper, wood, cloth, metal, leather, rough paper and plastic. (this varies from printing press).
- The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up.
- Better Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs.
- Many modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems as opposed to the older computer-to-film work flows, further increasing quality.
Tune in next time when we discuss how to decide which option is right for you.
Until next time… stay creative.