Offset Printing vs Digital Printing

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Most arguments you see on offset printing vs digital printing comes from the perspective of someone that has a interest in one or the other technology. We produce both offset and digital printing in our plant so we provide a rather neutral perspective on both sides.

Offset is usually looked at as the higher quality choice, although, digital printing has vastly improved to where the difference is pretty small now. Offset printing prints PMS colors easier and reproduces solid screen tints better. Offset prints higher quantities at much less cost than digital printing. The cutoff is usually anywhere from 500 to 2000 sheets. Quantity and timeframe are usually the deciding factors in whether to use offset printing vs digital printing. Offset printing gives you much better options of printing larger sheets as long as you are doing more than a few of any item. Most digital presses only print up to a 14x20 sheet although 12 x18 is the most common sheet size.

Digital printing is used primarily when you need something very quickly or in very small quantities. Digital printing also gives you the opportunity to print variable text or images where each sheet off the press is unique in some personalized way. Once a sheet is off a digital press it can be cut, folded or finished very quickly where offset printing must dry or be coated before handling. There are very few digital presses that print true PMS colors or Spot Colors.

When used right the two processes should be complimentary and not necessarily in competition with each other. If they do compete it is in a very narrow range of small quantities. Here is an example of a digital offset printing company with digital offset printing equipment.

Written by Buzz Tatom
The Odee Company, Dallas, Texas

See also:
All Digital Printing is not the Same
Variable Data Printing
Indigo Digital Printing