Offset Printing vs Digital Printing

Offset Printing vs. Digital Printing – Learn the Difference

When comparing offset printing vs. digital printing, digital continues to grow in popularity.  Yet, which is right for your next print job? Some examples are below.

For more than a century, offset printing was the standard for pretty much any print job.  It’s called offset because ink isn’t applied directly to the final product.  An aluminum or rubber plate is used as a go-between, holding the ink when paper is placed against it.  Since this process is entirely “analog” it results in crisp and accurate reproductions every time.

However, while digital printing may lag slightly in terms of image quality, it’s making inroads against offset printing.  Digital offers several features that offset cannot match.

Offset Printing vs. Digital Printing, Digital Might Be the Right Choice

1 – Small Batches

Because digital requires less setup, and doesn’t need plates, it’s far more cost effective for smaller batches, especially quantities of less than 100.  Likewise, if you’re doing a lot of micro-targeting and looking to send several versions of a mailer, digital will allow for the variety you need without the high costs associated with reconfiguring an offset printer.

2 – Customized Elements

What if you’re looking to heavily personalize each mailer or one-sheet with personal information or perhaps individual QR Codes? Simply put, this cannot be done with offset printing.  Digital printing solutions can easily make printed materials as customized -or interactive- as an email.  The costs associated with trying this on offset printing equipment would be absurd.

3 – Smaller Pieces

One of the main limitations on digital printing is the same as all other digital graphics: resolution.  The bigger the piece being printed, the less likely a digital printer will be able to match offset quality.  But, this also goes in the other direction.  Digital printers can create super-sharp smaller pieces of artwork, sometimes with better fidelity than offset processes.

When Offset Printing Is Still The Better Choice

1 – Big Identical Batches

While the initial setup of an offset print job is higher, this can be mitigated by the sheer speed of offset printing.  If you need ten thousand copies of the same poster, offset will deliver it faster and for less money.  This is the sort of job offset printing excels at.

2 – Physically Large Pieces

As alluded to above, the quality of digital printing goes down as the physical size of the final product goes up.  Large digitally-printed materials are likely to be pixilated, or have unacceptably large spacing between printed dots.  This may not matter if the object will only be seen from a distance, such as a banner ten feet above the ground.  However, if it will be seen close-up, offset printing can stand up to more scrutiny.

3 – Special Ink Or Materials

Offset printing can also handle a wider variety of inks and printing materials.  As such, it is better suited for high-end products that might include metallic inks, gold foil, or expensive paper stock.  While digital is making strides in this area, offset printing can still add touches of class or luxury that digital cannot provide.

Two Great Printing Options Cover Every Need

So, there’s no single answer to whether offset printing vs. digital printing is “better.”  Each technology has its own advantages and areas in which it excels.  If you’re in doubt about which will work better for your own print jobs, just contact One Stop Mail.  Our shop offers the state of the art printing, and we can ensure you get the right techniques for every form of printed media you need!

Related Post: Why use digital printing?


Updated 11.20.20 

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