Digital Printing vs Offset Printing: When to Choose and Why?
There are three main considerations in making a decision to use digital printing vs offset printing. Let’s discuss:
- Quality. There is little doubt that offset printing is better in terms of resolution. Photos, screen tints and gradient screens are far superior printed with a metal plate on an offset press. Contrary, a digital press will have a slightly larger color gamut due to the nature of the toner (digital ink) being fused to the substrate. This method of digital printing will provide brighter colors on uncoated stocks. Overall, the resolution and crispness of type/screens on an offset press far exceeds digital printing to the trained eye. See image above: offset printing dot (left) vs digital printing (right).
- Turnaround time. Hands down, digital printing is the choice. Without having to make expensive metal plates and time consuming ‘press makeready’, the ability of digital printing to output a single press sheet, without metal plates or ‘press makeready’, is a tremendous advantage. On the downside, the slower speed of a digital press makes longer runs more time consuming than an offset printing.
- Price. The major price difference between digital printing vs offset printing is the quantity. Lesser quantities will favor digital printing, while larger quantities will favor offset printing. The ‘per unit’ price of a digital printed piece will be higher than offset. However, the expense of making plates and ‘press makeready’ with offset will cause the ‘per unit’ price to be linear – as the quantity goes up, the ‘per unit’ price goes down. Finding the price intersection is the key.
As you can see, there are many variables to consider when comparing digital printing vs offset printing. There is no clear-cut decision. If quality is paramount, stick with offset and pay a little more. If you’re just looking for 50 brochures, digital printing is your choice.
Another important aspect, when choosing between digital printing vs offset printing, is color consistency. Our printing company is certified to the G7 printing standard for color. This means we are able to obtain a visual match between different printing methods: digital, offset and inkjet. Color quality is no worry between printing devices.
You can see the numbers yourself. HiDefColorPrint.com has an instant pricing calculator for both offset printing and digital printing. Use the instant pricing calculator to determine when to use digital printing vs offset printing.