Offset vs. Digital Print

What’s better: offset or digital printing?
It’s finally happened. You have a large amount of marketing materials you need to print, and you’re faced with a question. Should you use digital printing? Or go with offset?

DATE 11 November 2016
INTERESTS Brochure Design, Branding, Printing,

Business owners have pondered this question for decades. And there is no black and white answer. YOUR answer, however, will all depend on your specific circumstances. We’ll take a closer look at those in this article, but before we do, what the heck is the difference between these two printing types? Let’s take a look.

What is offset printing?

Offset is your grandparent’s printing technology. In fact, it’s older than that. As this technology has been around for over a century, you may say it belongs to your grandfather’s, grandfather’s era.  For over a hundred years, offset printing has gave birth to millions of newspapers, brochures, advertisements and other printed materials. It prints by using plates, typically made of aluminum, which transfer an image onto a rubber sheet, which then rolls that image onto paper, plastic or another type of surface. 

What is digital printing?

You’re likely far more familiar with digital printing. It’s the printing style of our current era. And if you own a printer, there’s a good chance this is the model in your home office. Digital printing uses toner or liquid ink to print.

Should I use offset or digital?

As mentioned earlier, the answer to whether you should use offset or digital depends on your specific situation. So let’s take a look at some common circumstances to help you determine which printing method to use.

How many copies will you print? Is it more or less than 500 copies? If fewer, it will generally be cheaper to print digital. If more, then you will save money by choosing offset. The reason for this is there’s a setup fee required each time you print using offset technology. This fee covers the cost of the production of the plates, machine setup, and the time it takes to complete these tasks. It should be noted that no matter how many copies need to be printed (whether it’s 1 or 1 million) the setup cost always remains the same. This is the reason why offset is cost effective for larger print jobs—because the more you print the more you save.

How important is image quality? It’s important to note that the quality of digital printing has dramatically improved over the years. With that said, business owners extremely concerned with image quality should consider offset printing as it produces a sharper and cleaner image, and gives you the option to print in pantone colors.

What’s the turnaround time? If you need your prints quick, digital is the obvious choice as there is no plate or machine setup. Therefore it’s always faster than offset.

Must each print be unique? If each individual item you’re printing needs a unique identifying mark—like a code or address—then you have no other choice but to go with digital printing. For offset print jobs, each individual copy you’re printing needs to be exactly the same.

What will you print on? Both offset and digital printing gives you the ability to print on a variety of paper types, however, the paper size for offset is large (up to 90cm across) while digital printing usually uses A3. Also, offset enables you to print on a variety of surfaces like wood, metal, plastic and more. Digital, on the other hand, is unable to print on such a wide range of surfaces. 

By answering the above questions, you’ll be able to make an educated choice about which printing method is best for your particular print job. Of course, if you have any additional questions, do not hesitate to reach out to us at Asia Media. Our experts have decades of experience in printing, and we’re confident we can help your business create the best prints possible. Call us today at 02 663 5930.