Should my Job be Printed or Photocopied?

Printing Guy asked:

This article could also be called digital printing or offset printing. Photocopy is an old term that primarily describes black on white copy work. The business has evolved into color as well.

The digital printing is mostly done through copier machines on the low end and digital presses on the high end. The term printing is usually associated with offset printing on presses that have to be set up, put in register and adjusted to get to the right color. Although the technology has become automated making offset presses more competitive in getting a job ready to be run in a shorter period of time you still have more fixed material costs on setting up for a printing press.

That is the beauty of digital presses is realistically there is very little or no set up time or material costs to run a job. Their downfall is they run on a small sheet and at one speed with the maximum speed being slower than the top speed of an offset printing press. All things being equal short run jobs of 500 -1000 press sheets or less will normally be more cost effective on digital presses and as you go above those quantities it becomes better to print on an offset press.

Quality is also a consideration to consider. Offset printing for the most part will give you a better quality job. Digital printing has improved significantly over the last 5 years to the point of it being hard to tell the difference between offset and digital. That being said pictures and solids are still not reproduces quite as well digitally.

Time is the other consideration. How quickly do you need it? This question can also help you determine whether digital or offset is better. If you need something that afternoon or the next day digital printing is known for quick turntimes. Offset printing because of the different steps it still goes through will normally take longer.

In summary if you need 50 of something overnight do digital printing. If you need 100,000 of a high end brochure and aren’t Daddy Warbucks the job should be printed offset.

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