Digital printing vs. offset – which should you choose and why?

Soumyadip Ghosal | March 6, 2019

A common confusion among marketers who are looking to find an effective way to print their marketing collaterals is – which printing technology to use, offset or digital printing. In this post we discuss, what the different types of professional printing services are how to choose the right one for your need. In professional printing services, there are 3 main types of processes:

  • Offset or lithographic printing
  • Digital printing
  • Screen printing

What is offset printing?

With offset or lithography, the artwork or design to be printed is first transferred to metal plates. Thereafter it is transferred to a rubber blanket. These inked rubber blankets run and transfer the inked designs on to paper. This is where the process gets its name from as the design is first transferred to blankets from plates, instead of going directly onto paper. Due to the hefty time and cost required to set up the plates and ink before the products can be printed offset is most beneficial for very large volumes of print and can be expensive for smaller amounts.

Thus, offset printing is ideal for those who’d like to order bulk prints for at least a few hundreds or thousands. For instance, if you are printing 500 copies of a brochure which is 10 pages long, you will be printing 5000 copies. This is a bulk order but qualifies as, “short run printing”. In this case, offset printing doesn’t make much sense as each sheet would require its own plate to be made.

What is digital printing?

Digital printers use powdered toner in place of the traditional inking process. The artwork is made into a PDF and then gets transferred onto paper as print. Previously, digital printing presses had limitations and could not match up to the vibrant colour production and variety of full-colour printers. But these days technological advancements have improved the results of digital printing and now they are almost indistinguishable from lithography. As there are no setup cost or minimum quality, digital printing is cost effective for smaller amounts (be it 50 or 5000). This is also the ideal printing process for when you need personalized printed materials.

How to choose the right printing service for your marketing collateral or corporate merchandise?

Printing processes can seem convoluted and making the right decision can be difficult. There’s a lot of factors to consider, like deadlines, budget and finishes. So, it is best to follow a simple rule of thumb when looking for the right print process – digital printing offers prints at a fast turnaround time.  While offset printing offers cheap prints in bulk with great quality colour reproduction.  But you could put a project of files into different digital presses that do not require much setup, but same for offset printing would cause require lot of time to setup the plates for inking.

For more information on what may be the right printing process for your product, send us a note!