Choosing between offset or digital printing

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Choosing between offset or digital printing

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October 29, 2018

Deciding to use offset or digital printing can make a difference in reaching your target market and in managing your budget. You can make the right choice if you know a little bit about each process and the advantages and disadvantages of each:

1.   Offset Printing

Offset printing offers the highest possible printing quality, with greatest detail and color fidelity. It is one of the most popular printing techniques that leads to professionally consistent results. Offset printing uses plates to transfer inks (i.e. the printed image) for printing on paper, plastics, metals, cellophane and other materials.The process can also facilitate the Pantone Matching System to keep your brand color consistent. The result is that with Offset printing you can expect the
best printing quality, detail and color fidelity.

Advantages:

  • Offset printing is the most reliable for quality and consistency because it uses  universally accepted, versatile and reliable Pantone color.  This is especially important when it comes to branding and furthering the company’s image.
  • Offset printing is cost-effective when printing large runs at an affordable cost.The offset presses are fast and can print up to 18000 sheets per hour.Most presses can print 8 pages at once on a single press sheet.
  • Offset printing is fast and efficient once the plate is made because the machine sets up quickly and easily.

Disadvantages:

  • Offset printing uses a plate that cannot be easily changed once the layout is completed. In addition, an initial set-up fee is often incurred for artwork andplate-making.
  • Offset printing is not practical for small runs of less than 100.
  • Offset printing is not appropriate for customizing databecause the images are set on plates and not variable.
  • Offset printing requires preparation time for plate making, ink mixing and proofing.

2.   Digital Printing

Digital printing is an excellent choice for short runs with multiple designs and fast delivery. The printers use toner, for example in laser printers, or liquid ink in larger printers. Digital printing relies on CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and key – black) full-color imaging only.  It does not have the ability to produce single Pantone colors or metallic inks, and is an inexpensive choice for black and white printing. Digital printing requires low quantities—for example 1 or 20 or 1000—and has the capability for easily changing data, such as names and addresses.

Advantages:

  • Digital printing is effective for short runs from 1 to 1000.
  • Digital printing has variable data capabilities, allowing for information to be changed easily.
  • Digital printing provides inexpensive black and white printing.
  • Digital printing allows you to print only the amount you need when you need it.
  • Digital printing projects can be completed quickly because there is no need for plate making, press set-up, or ink mixing.

Disadvantages:

  • Digital printing cannot produce specific color branding that is essential to many brand images that require Pantone colors.
  • Digital printing is inefficient for large runs in the hundred and thousands,
  • Digital printing does not use as wide a variety of papers, textures, materials and specialty inks.
  • Digital printing quality cannot equal the high quality of offset printing.

Summary:

Choose Offset printing for large runs, high quality and specific, brand-centric Pantone color.

Choose Digital printing for small runs, quick results and data variability capabilities.

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