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Offset vs Digital Printing

digital-printingPrinting is printing, right?

Not exactly. There are several different printing methods commercial printers use to produce your collateral materials. The most common are offset and digital printing.

Let's take a look at these two printing methods, their differences, and when it makes sense to choose one or the other for your next print project.

Offset Printing

Offset printing technology uses plates, usually made from aluminum, which are used to transfer the image in ink onto a rubber "blanket;" then that ink is rolled onto a sheet of paper.

Offset printing is the best choice when larger quantities are needed. Offset printing also delivers accurate color reproduction, and crisp, clean, professional-looking printed materials. But while offset printing is a fantastic way to produce great-looking print projects, many businesses or individuals do not need large runs of 500 or more, and the best solution is digital printing.

Digital Printing

Digital printing also produces quality printed materials, but it doesn't use plates the way offset does. Digital printing uses toner, like that used in laser printers, or liquid ink.

Digital printing is ideal when you need low quantities like a run of 20 greeting cards or 100 flyers.

Another benefit of digital printing is variable data capability. When each piece needs a unique code, name, or address, digital is the only way to go. Offset printing cannot accommodate this need.

▶︎ View our Offset vs. Digital Printing Infographic, a side-by-side comparison of the printing methods based on the aspects important to you.

Advantages of Digital Printing

  • Setup costs are lower for short runs.
  • Print only the amount you need, when you need it.
  • There are no minimum quantities – run 1 to 500 pieces.
  • It's very inexpensive to print in black and white.
  • Variable data capability – names, addresses, codes or numbering can be done easily.
  • Improved technology has made digital quality acceptable for more uses.

Advantages of Offset Printing

  • Large quantities can be printed cost-effectively.
  • The more you print, the lower the price per piece.
  • Offset printing opens you up to a larger selection of paper types and finishes.
  • You can use special custom inks, such as metallic and Pantone colors.
  • Offset offers the highest possible printing quality with greater detail and color fidelity.

Which printing method is the right fit for my next print project?
Offset and digital are both useful printing methods. Each has particular benefits depending on your project's requirements.

When you need larger runs of a project, into the hundreds or thousands, or are using a specific, brand-centric Pantone color, offset printing is the only way to go. You can also use a much wider variety of custom papers and specialty inks, such as metallic or fluorescent inks in the offset process.

If you only need a small run, or you need to personalize your materials, digital is your solution.

Call us today at 419-861-8611 to discuss your printing needs, and we'll help you choose the best, most cost-effective solution for your project.



207 Arco Drive

Toledo, OH 43607-2906

Phone: 419.861.8611

Fax: 419.861.3299

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