Understanding which type of printing is best for a given project can save money and headaches
Offset or “traditional” printing involves a mechanical process of applying layers of ink to paper with a series of rollers. Each roller applies a specified ink – Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (or CMYK) to the paper. As each of these rollers pass over the paper, they transfer layers of ink and complete the image on the paper. Offset presses that have the capability of a fifth color color can lay down additional inks for spot colors (Pantone or PMS colors). Most offset presses require a significant amount of “make ready” time to prepare the press before printing actually begins. There is a fair amount of paper waste as the press begins to run in order to get the press “up to color”. Proofing on an offset press can be more challenging than digital printing since it’s not economical to ready an offset press for just one printed proof. Instead other, more economical devices are used to simulate what the final product will look like. Offset printing has a front-end loaded cost structure (plates, make ready, paper waste.) which means short runs (low quantities) may have a high per-unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing. Very short runs can be more cost effective with digital printing; while larger quantities are likely to have a lower unit cost with offset printing.
In contrast, digital presses use a laser to “write” a latent static charge on a rotating drum which then attracts the ink (or toner on some presses) to the drum, applying a different color ink with each rotation. Digital presses don’t require the “make ready” that offset presses do and usually the first print out of a digital press is of high quality and therefore have little/no paper waste. Digital printing eliminates the numerous and time consuming steps involved in the offset printing process. Proofing on a digital press is typically more accurate since the proof is printed using the exact process as will be used on the final press run. If you need it fast, digital usually offers a much faster turnaround.
Many different considerations will determine which method of printing is best for your particular project, such as quantity, timing, and the physical size of the printed piece. Offset printing is commonly used for higher quantity, larger format jobs while digital printing is best applied to smaller format, lesser quantity print runs. While one printing method might give you a slightly different “look” than the other, both printing methods can give you excellent results.
Offset Printing Pros
Digital Printing Pros
Offset Printing Cons
Digital Printing Cons
Our sales staff at Influence Graphics are experts in helping you choose whether digital or offset printing is best for your project. Give us a call at 212-354-613