Deciding When to Use Digital Printing or Offset Printing

Adan Ines asked:

Offset printing is considered the grand father of all printing processes. They may be old but the offset printing process has stood the test of time and up to today brings quality prints at very affordable prices. However, offset printing relies heavily on mechanical processes such as plate production, because of this you need to have bulk orders of prints in order for your materials to be cost effective.

Printing companies overcame this short coming with the development of various technologies – namely digital printing. In this day and age, computers play a big role in how we live our lives. And it has increased the effectiveness of several appliances and functions. The improvements extends to different things even extend toward the real of printing.

Digital printing uses the aid of computers in order to process your prints and produce them without the use of plates and other mechanical processes like film stripping and color separation. Because of this, a wide array of printing options has become available to people and there is greater freedom on how they want their prints done.

In order to help you decide whether you want to print your materials in offset or in digital, here are the pros and cons of using digital printing:

1.    Printing thru the digital method is definitely cheaper than offset printing when it comes to short run prints. On bulk orders however, offset printing is still king. As I have said earlier, printing thru the digital process does not require mechanical processes that add to the production cost. Printing digitally uses direct to printer technology that allows them to print your materials in short run and print them at very cost effective rates. However, plates are necessary to create large number of prints as such, when you order in bulk and you need your prints at a fast turn around time, offset printing should be your choice.

2.    Both printing technologies offer full color printing process. However, unless you plan to print in short run, offset printing is still the best option that you can have. Both printing technologies use the four color process using yellow, cyan, black and magenta to produce different hues. The only difference is that the offset printing process “stamps” the colors in the substrate using the plate and the ink rollers. On the digital printers, the ink is just sprayed on top of your substrate.

3.    For emergency processes and when you want your prints done in rush processes, then you should definitely choose digital printing.  Offset printing requires a lot of pre-press set up and the processes that you go thru are time consuming but unavoidable. Digital printing allows you to by pass all mechanical processes and lets you print your materials at very fast turn arounds.

4.    Digital prints and printing is still in its infancy stage and many design options are still not available thru digital means. Processes like embossed printing, stamping, special custom folding and stapling are processes that can’t be done through digital means – YET. Just wait for more technological advances to make this services available when you print digitally.

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