Digital Printing Vs Offset Printing – Their Pros and Cons

By | October 13, 2014

The popular commercial printing choices available today are digital printing and offset printing. Offset printing is traditional and the natural method of printing process whereas digital printing is the emerging printing technology. Both of them are unique and bring you benefits. Confused on what printing technology to use for your printings, a common question arises for most people is which is more suitable – offset or digital printing.

You can choose the type of printing based on key factors and benefits. The key factors include budget, time and quality. These factors you need to figure out before you opt for any of the printing technologies. Along with this, you should also take a look at the pros and cons of each. To help you out, we have compiled the benefits and drawbacks of each printing technology.

Digital printing
Digital printing does direct printing with the help of digital medium. In other words, it sends the file from a computer to the digital printer that directly prints on a paper. Digital printing eliminates many steps involved in the offset printing like making films and plates for ink rollers. It uses inkjet or laser technologies for printing. Many high quality digital printers use laser for printing.

The pros:

  • The primary benefit of digital printing is it is fast and is suitable for businesses with stringent deadlines.
  • This is more efficient or economical option for the small number of prints or print runs.
  • It can quickly print off proof sheets i.e., few sheets at a time.
  • Digital printing is more flexible if you need frequent changes to your printing – customization is available in digital printing.
  • Digital prints are of very high quality as the colors shows perfectly on the prints and the quality of the color from the first print to last print will be the same on the print.
  • A major concern of the new companies or businesses in case of offset printing is whether the print that they had made would appeal to their clients or not. But with digital printing, you can eliminate this problem because there is chance of getting prototypes before you decide the final print and it doesn’t take much time for making samples as digital printing process is quick.

The cons:
Though there are lots of benefits with digital printing, and has also a few drawbacks that you need to consider when choosing.

  • It is expensive if you want to make a bulk or high volumes of sheets.
  • Some of the digital print papers can have cracks in folds or edges as the ink can’t fully absorbed by the paper.
  • Though digital prints are of good quality, they are inferior to the one offset printing because the color quality can’t match.

Offset printing
Offset printing is a traditional method used in printing. It involves a series of steps – at first, the inked image is transferred through a series of rollers from a plate to the rubber blanket and then sent to a roll of sheets/papers for printing. When it comes to mass creation, offset printing is the most common method.

The pros:

  • Offset printing is a cost effective option for long print runs or for high volumes.
  • You can have more choices or materials like stock, paper types, sizes, etc.
  • As for image quality, this is good choice for the graphic designers.

The cons:

  • Offset printing costs more for short volumes of printing.
  • It takes more time as it requires a huge set-up and the costs for the set-up are more.
  • It is more difficult if you want to customize or personalize the print during the print run.
  • Multiple changes and the accurate proofing is expensive in offset printing.

Make sure to choose the one that satisfies the above factors and your requirements.