Digital vs. Offset Printing

January 21, 2010

What’s the difference? Well, that’s what I’m obviously here to tell you.

First we’ll start off with the tried-and-true offset printing.

With offset printing, you get the best image quality which would be perfect if image quality will be an issue. Why this is true is because a lot of today’s presses uses a computer-to-plate system which is better than the earlier computer-to-film system. Film was bad because it had a good chance of getting scratched, and that scratch will show up on the final piece of artwork. Also, offset printing works with a wider range of printing mediums: Paper, Clothing, Wood, and much more.

You also get the ability to have your choice of 1 color, 2 color, 3 color, and 4 color printing (and sometimes 6 color). Digital presses can only do CMYK (4 color).

The biggest factor advantage with offset (to me, at least) is that as you request more units to print, the price of each individual unit goes down. For example, if you order 1000 #10 Envelopes, each envelope will individually cost $.28 while order 5000 units will only cast $.10 each!

On to the digital presses…

With digital, they only have an ability to print in CMYK 4-color process only (as I have stated before). Also, color accuracy does suffer a bit with this and are only able to print on paper.

Print layout accuracy and efficiency is much better on a digital press because ink and water doesn’t need to be balanced.

But the biggest thing is the price of digital presses. 4 Color press jobs on a digital press will rival those prices of a 2 color job on an offset press.

If you need something in a moments notice, the offset printing might take a long time because they have to make the plate, set the inks, load the paper, then you to get your prints. But with a digital press, the turn around time is much much quicker than that because there is less work to do to set it up.

Well, you made it through the article.

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