If you're looking to get a traditional print job done for your company, you'll likely choose between two printing methods: offset or digital. Both procedures result in quality results, but how do you determine which one is best for your project?
Choosing the right print production method may sound like a stressful feat. But never fear! This guide will navigate the differences between offset and digital so you can make an informed decision tailored to your project’s needs.
What is offset printing?
Offset printing is a technique that first involves transferring ink from a metal printing plate to a rubber sheet. That ink then gets rolled onto a sheet of paper, creating the desired image. The offset printing process is more traditional, having been around since the 1800s. This method is also known as offset lithography, or "litho" for short.
Offset printing typically uses four rollers that each use a different color ink: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (CMYK). If you've ever seen newspapers rolling through a large machine on TV, you've seen offset printing in action.
What is digital printing?
In the late 20th century, digital printing was born. It works by converting a digital image into tiny dots that are then transferred onto a printable surface. This method simplified the offset printing process with no printing plates or press setup required.
With less mechanics than offset printing, digital printing has made its way into many households. If you have a laser or inkjet printer at home, you are the owner of a digital printer. At The Vomela Companies, we have larger, more precise digital presses to get large-scale projects done.
Pros and Cons of Offset Printing
Pristine quality: Offset printing produces sharp, vibrant images with consistent color reproduction.
Cost-effective for high-volume jobs: As the number of impressions increases, the cost per unit for offset printing decreases, making it a more economical option for large print runs.
Wide range of printing mediums: Offset printing can accommodate an array of paper stocks and even some types of plastic or magnetic substrates.
Edits are costly: Once the offset printing process starts, changes to the design or text can be expensive, requiring the creation of new printing plates.
Time-consuming: Although the printing process is swift, plate preparation and press setup lengthen production time.
Expensive for low-volume print runs: The set-up costs for offset printing can be significant, making it less cost-effective for smaller print jobs.
Pros and Cons of Digital Printing
Variable data printing: Digital printing allows for the personalization of individual prints with unique information like names, addresses, or barcodes.
Fast turnaround: There is no need for plate preparation, allowing for faster production and delivery of printed materials.
Easier to edit: Changes can be made to a digital file which can be sent to the printer without the need for new printing plates.
Restrictive sizes and materials: Digital presses may have limitations on the maximum paper size or type of material they can handle.
Limited quality: While digital printing produces high-quality prints in general, it may not always match the sharpness and color accuracy of offset printing. (Digital presses cannot print Pantone colors, for example.) This is especially notable for intricate designs or large-format prints.
Not ideal for high-volume prints: As the number of prints increases, the cost per unit for digital printing may become more expensive.
What printing method is best for your project?
The best printing method for each project will depend on its specific needs and priorities. Using the pros and cons above, think about the characteristics of your next print job. Common considerations include budget, timeline, volume, and desired personalization.
If you need high-quality, consistent prints for a large print job, offset printing is a good option. If you have a tighter timeline and budget or a need for personalization, digital printing is a better choice.
Still deciding on what print method will work best for your business? Vomela has the expertise to optimize your print marketing needs. Contact us today to learn more!