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Business Decisions: The Differences Between Offset and Digital Printing

There have been a number of technological improvements introduced into printing over the last few years and whilst this growth in digital technologies offers more printing options, it has created an element of confusion regarding the differences between offset and digital printing.

Offset and digital printing both use processes that allow you to produce a variety of different items from magazines and business cards to brochures and advertisements, along with a host of other mediums.

Basic differences

Before going into greater detail, it is worth highlighting the basic differences between digital and offset printing.

The offset printing process involves transferring an image onto paper or other surfaces such as vinyl, using ink and plates. This results in an accurate colour reproduction and a quality professional finish.

The fundamental difference between the two processes is that digital printing does not require ink plates and therefore opens up the opportunity to produce printed copy which is unique and individual on each page printed if desired.

Offset lithography

Digital PrintingThis method of printing is still undoubtedly the most common method of printing if you are looking to do high volume print runs.

The major cost associated with this form of printing is creating the plates, but once this is done, you can produce large numbers of brochures or other items in volume, at a reasonable cost.

With offset lithography, your desired content is first burned onto a plate and then subsequently transferred to a rubber blanket. Afterwards, the content is placed on the printing surface and the print run can begin.

The cost of lithographic printing will vary according to the content you want and if t is fairly static, you will pay less, which is why some consider that offset printing is still a very viable way of producing things like product literature and leaflets.

Digital printing

Many of us are familiar with digital printing and use a good quality printer ourselves for producing our own printed material, which is made easy when you can order ink cartridges online easily as and when you need them.

Many commercial printers now actually combine the two technologies and offer the best of both worlds, in the form of digital offset printing.

One of the big advantages with digital printing is that it offers the chance to remove the majority of the printing techniques and steps required with traditional offset lithography, as there is no longer a need for making films or plates and the turnaround time for proofs is often substantially reduced as well.

Pros and cons

The advantages of digital printing are that you can print more variables more cost effectively and low-volume print runs will often work out cheaper when compared to offset printing.

The fundamental advantage of offset printing is that it can offer you better quality across a range of different surfaces and not just paper, so you can print more easily on surfaces like wood and metal.

High-volume print runs also tend to work out cheaper using offset printing rather than digital.

There is no definite answer to which method is best, as it often depends on the project type and the quantity involved with your print job.

John Sollars, a longtime businessman, knows the power of a great logo. A passionate writer, he likes to share his know-how with new business people on the web. You can read his informative posts on a number of websites and blogs.

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