You may think that there’s no difference between offset and digital printing in terms of quality, but there is a difference between the two. Both have advantages, and yet knowing which one is better for your print project can save you time, money, and result in a better-quality print.
Offset printing uses aluminum plates to transfer your image onto a rubber sheet, which is then rolled onto a piece of paper. Historically, it was used as a cheaper way to reproduce artwork, and it is still widely used today, especially for newspapers and magazines. Since the ink isn’t directly transferred from the plates to the paper, the process is called “offset.”
Each metal plate is used for each colour and needs to be etched individually. This process makes setting up an offset print job very expensive and time-consuming. However, once an offset press is set up, it runs extremely efficiently and quickly. The reliability makes it an excellent choice when you need large quantities of prints and want the highest print quality possible.
Digital printing applies ink directly to the paper. It does this by using electrostatic rollers to apply ink or toner to the paper. Each roller, or drum, corresponds to one colour and uses an electrostatic charge to attract the ink or toner, which is then applied to the paper. The colour is fused to the paper using heat, and the final image is then released from the printer.
Since digital printing uses electronic information and doesn’t need to etch the image on the roller, it’s typically much easier to set up and execute. This process makes it perfect for shorter runs.
Both digital and offset printing have their place in the printing world, and you can choose which to use depending mainly on your needs.
When asking which one is better, you need to consider whether you are planning on printing large volumes of thousands of copies, or whether your quantity is smaller.
Offset printing makes sense if you’re printing massive amounts of copies and want the highest print quality possible. Digital printing makes much more sense if you’re printing small batches, especially as the quality of digital printing continues to improve.