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what is the difference between digital and offset printing?

print digital offset

There are a number of differences between digital and offset printing and today we will look at these in closer detail.

Both types of printing will produce extremely high quality print products. Whether you decide to print digital or offset will really depend on not only volume but if you have any niche project requirements.

The first difference between digital and offset printing is that digital printing is better suited for short run printing (from 1+ items) and offset printing is better suited for higher volume printing (depending on the project could be from 2000+ items).

Digital printing allows for quick turn-around times as there are minimal set-up requirements compared to offset printing. This makes digital printing cost effective for smaller print runs. A digital press can easily print out a single sheet of paper or booklet with minimal setup, however, offset requires considerably more time and material – making it cost effective for large volume runs only. The set-up of each also makes digital printing easier to offer a print sample for proofing, whereas you cannot print samples on an offset press. If a proof or colour check is required for an offset job, then a press-check may be needed.

Every print press will offer slightly different controls and interpretations of how colours get applied to a page. Offset printing uses a rubber ‘blanket’ to transfer the printed image from a metal plate to the paper stock. Using a mixture of ink and water balance, jobs printed offset are either printed in CMYK or SPOT colour. Digital printers use dry toner and the image is transferred electronically to the stock. Artwork goes through far less scrutiny when being printed on digital machines as they are more ‘forgiving’ of artwork created by non-professional designers which may have some technical errors.

Digital printing typically runs smaller sheet sizes. For example, the largest sheet size our digital press offers is a SRA3 (slightly larger than an standard A3 sheet). Offset presses however can run much larger sheets or rolls which offer multiple prints per sheet – ideal for larger volumes and larger print sizes.

The team at The Print Group are always happy to answer any questions that you may have! You can also read further about our digital and offset printing services here.