Is offset printing or digital right for your business?

If you are having some commercial printing work carried out then you will need to make a decision about the printing process that you want to use.

offset printing

You might not be aware that there are two very common forms of commercial printing: offset printing and digital printing. Here we take a look both of these types to see which one might be most suitable for your needs.

What is offset printing?

The most commonly used form of printing process for high-volume commercial projects and jobs, offset printing is extremely popular. It is also a surprisingly complicated system which first involves the printer burning the planned design onto a number of metal plates (one for each colour). This design is next transferred onto robber rollers from the metal plates.

The ink colours are then added to the relevant rubber roll and then the printing process begins. The paper runs between the rubber rolls. Once the printing paper has gone through all of the rolls, the layered colours will create the final image.

What are advantages of using it?

There are many advantages of offset printing. Here are some of the most important:

  • Stronger colour fidelity – thanks to both the accuracy of the colours and getting the balance correct within the design, offset printing offers excellent colour fidelity. And with the ability to create colours that are customised to your exact needs, you will always get exactly the right look you want.
  • Print on any kind of material you like – a major advantage of offset printing is that you can print effectively on almost any kind of material. This means whether you are creating posters, vinyl prints, or large format printing, it can be managed easily.
  • The best possible quality of image – perhaps the most important advantage of offset printing is incredible image quality. When you print using this method you can guarantee clean and distinct images that are free from defects.
  • Lower costs at high volume – when your project involves printing a high volume of material, offset printing can be a money saving method.

Of course, there are also disadvantages, or at least times when offset printing is less preferable. For example, this type of printing might not be perfect of low-volume printing. Additionally, you need to be very sure that you are printing the right thing before the process starts. Noticing a typo on the first print out of the machine is much too late – it would mean a whole batch is ruined.

What is digital printing?

The alternative to offset printing is digital printing – this removes the concepts of plates and rubber rolls and instead applies the design directly to the printing materials. Using toner and combining a mixture of cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) dots to create the correct colour. According to digital printing specialists YouLovePrint: “It is best if you can work in CMYK at the design stage, before you upload proofs”. If you have a printer at home, this is a similar process to that technique.

What are the advantages of using it?

There are many advantages of digital printing too, and this could make it the better option for you, depending on your requirements. Some of the key advantages include:

  • A faster process – the setup process of offset printing is time consuming and complicated, so thankfully there is none of this involved with digital printing. The bottom line here is that you can have you printed materials with you much faster than if you were to carry out the project through.
  • Far cheaper on lower volume jobs – when you want to have relatively low volumes printed, digital printing is the way to go. There is far less time and expensive on equipment and materials, so it will save you a significant amount of money.
  • Prints are always identical – with digital printing there is no chance of an imbalance in either ink or water, so concerns about variations between prints are eradicated.
  • Easy to edit – it is extremely easy to make changes to the material that you want to have printed, as any changes simply need to be made in the digital version of the document.