Offset printing is the older of the two methods and involves a plate on which the material to be printed is engraved, which is transferred with ink onto a rubber blanket, then to the material which it has to be printed on. Digital printing, on the other hand, skips the plate entirely and directly prints onto the material. Offset printing is known produce higher quality than digital printing, but comes with high initial costs and isn’t cost effective unless really large numbers are printed. That’s where digital printing comes in, and here are its advantages:
Eco-Friendly: While it still involves ink and chemicals, there’s no pre-press procedures like offset printing, so there’s no need for plates, chemicals and extra material. Directly printing onto the material saves a lot!
Quick Turnaround: Again, since there’s no pre-press procedures and plates, the initial setup time is reduced, and you can get your prints quicker than with offset printing.
No Initial Costs or Setup: Speaking of initial setup, there’s no additional cost of creating the plates, so you’re saving on money, but only if you’re looking to print smaller numbers. For high volume printing, offset printing is still the king because once set up, the cost per unit is much lesser.
Small Batch Printing: If you’re looking to print in the hundreds or even thousands, the setup cost of offset printing might not seem justified. With digital printing, you can print in multiple small batches and not worry about big setup costs.
Customization: Offset printing is essentially imprinting the plate’s content onto the printing material, which means that the content is physically set and cannot be changed. In digital printing though, there’s no such thing, so you can easily customize each print unit without too much hassle. For example, you can print different names on wedding cards, where only one small area is changed while the remaining is the same.
Accuracy: With digital printing, you can print samples to check on color accuracy and the like so that you’re printing exactly what you envisioned. It’s easy to tweak colors and their properties, but with offset printing the whole process gets much trickier because of the physical separation of ink and water.
So in a nutshell, if you’re looking for customized prints and small or multiple batches, digital printing is the way to go. Easy, flexible and affordable up to a certain point, digital printing is definitely worth your money!