Offset printing, also known as offset lithography, is a common printing technique where the inked image is transferred from a printing plate to a rubber blanket, then finally to the printing surface. This method is best for large runs and provides accurate color reproduction resulting in a clean and professional product.
Digital printing is a printing process that involves toner sitting on top of the piece of paper instead of being absorbed by it. The printing process uses toner in a combined mix of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black dots to create the image. This is typically used on short-run jobs using a large format or high volume laser or inkjet printer.
What’s the difference?
Both methods are useful and result in high-quality products.
Your project’s requirements, such as quantity, color, budget etc.,
are what will ultimately determine which method is best for you.
Offset printing prices decrease as the unit number increases. This is because of the initial cost of machine setup and plate requirement, as the machine has to be washed between print jobs for color changes. A longer run will prove to be more cost effective in this case.
Digital printing is cheaper for short-run printing because it has less of a setup cost, but a higher cost per unit. As a general rule, digital printing is a more cost-effective option up to roughly 500 units.
The color application process of an offset press involves a measured amount of ink being applied to a printing plate, which is then transferred (or offset) from the plate to a sheet of paper via a rubber blanket. This process is based on the simple principle that water and oil do not mix. The images to be printed are put on a plate, then dampened by water and then ink. The ink is attracted to the image area and the water to all other areas.
Digital printing uses laser or inkjet printers with four-color-matching processes and the CMYK color mode. They can only print in grayscale and CMYK and are not able to print true colors such as Pantone or HKS. If your print job requires an absolute Pantone match, digital printing is not the right option.
Due to the setup, maintenance, and generally higher order quantities, turnaround time for offset printing can be slightly longer.
Digital printing is typically for smaller quantity jobs and does not require the same involved setup or maintenance between print productions which enables a quicker turnaround.