When it comes to commercial printing, a number of small and big businesses are faced with the challenge of deciding whether to go with offset printing or digital printing. Although both of these methods are used for various printing tasks, a wrong decision on your choice of printing method will not only upset your budget, it will also damage your reputation in the long run. Therefore, before you outsource your commercial printing job to a professional printing company, you need to find out which printing method is most suitable and profitable for your business.
It is only by looking at the advantages and disadvantages of both printing methods that you will be in a better position to decide whether to go with digital printing or offset printing. Let us have a quick peek at these advantages and disadvantages:
As the name suggests, this printing method involves sending an image directly to the printer via a digital file. If you have a desktop printer in your office or at your home, you may already be familiar with this type of printing. Since this method does not require creating different printing plates (like in offset printing), digital printing offers a faster turnaround time.
Advantages of Digital Printing
- Shortest turnaround time
- Easy customization
- Accurate printing
- Less waste and variation
- Variable data printing
- Low cost
Also referred to as lithography, offset printing is the most popular method when it comes to high volume commercial printing. As the name suggests, this method involves transferring (offsetting) the ink (CMYK) from the plates to a rubber sheet and finally to the paper or any other printing surface.
Advantages of Offset Printing
- Ideal for high volume printing
- Unsurpassed quality and versatility
- Cheaper price for high volumes
- Allows for easy customization
- Modern Computer-to-plate technology allows for improved quality and efficiency
Now that you know a few basic things about digital printing and offset printing, the following checklist will further help you decide which one to use for your next printing assignment.
Since digital printing does not require upfront costs, it is easy to setup and has a faster turnaround as compared to offset printing. It is considered as the best solution for smaller print jobs (500 pieces or less). Offset printing, on the other hand, has a front-end cost load, it is best for large-volume printing jobs. As the volume goes up the per-unit cost goes down.
If you are looking for quality rather than quantity and the per-unit cost is not a big issue for you, you can to consider offset printing since it offers most accurate colour reproduction and consistency with the use of Pantone inks.
When it comes to proofing, digital printing leads the way since what you see is an actual sample of the printed piece. If you need hard proofs, offset printing may not give you enough flexibility.
For the low per-unit cost, offset printing is most suitable, but you need to have a large printing job in order to keep the per-unit cost down.