Digital vs. offset printing: The pros and cons

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The choice is dictated by a few key factors, namely the required quality of the final product, the budget and the timeframe available. It’s not an easy set of characteristics to balance for each printing job so allow our concise but accurate guide to help you. 

What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing Perth

A large format printing press, capable to printing spot and four colour process.

Offset printing is a commonly used printing method that involves an inked image being transferred (or offset) via a series of rollers from a plate to a rubber blanket, then transferred to sheet fed or rolls of paper. You may well be familiar with footage of printing presses outputting up to 20,000 sheets an hour. Sheet fed offset printing is the most common method printing when it comes to creating printed material for mass distribution. 

  • Cost effective for large print runs, e.g. corporate brochures.
  • Pantone and metallic spot colours can only be printed using offset printing.
  • Offset printing can achieve a very high level of finish.
  • Offset printing can be costly for short print runs.
  • It can be cost prohibitive to make last minute artwork changes once the printing has commenced.
  • Set-up costs are more than digital due to the make ready process.
  • Has a greater environmental impact due to the large volume of paper required to prepare each print run.

What is Digital printing?

Digital printing presses are increasingly becoming more sophisticated.

Digital printing presses are increasingly becoming more sophisticated.

Digital printing presses are increasingly becoming more sophisticated.Digital printing involves direct printing from a digital medium using either inkjet or laser technology. The primary benefit of this methodology is speed and the ability to print short runs cost effectively.

  • More economical for small print runs.
  • The digital medium allows for quick and last minute editing of the artwork.
  • The printing process is much quicker to initiate.
  • Ability to print variable data as part of the one printing process
  • It can quickly print off proof sheets, a few sheets at a time.
  • Digital is more expensive than offset when printing a large numbers of sheets.
  • It can’t print spot pantone colour and metallic inks.
  • Although the quality is good it is slightly inferior to the results achieved with offset printing.

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