The Pros & Cons of Offset Vs Digital

Digital VS Offset

Trying to decide whether or not to produce your next printed piece digitally or with traditional offset? Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. Volume, budget, quality and turn times all play into determining which means of production is the best fit for your project.

Digital Printing Pros:

  • Low-volume – Smaller quantities are much more cost effective on a digital press. Depending on the piece, digital production is a best fit for 500-1000 units. Several digital presses come equipped with in-line finishing capabilities allowing you to also produce booklets economically at low quantities.
  • Customization – Unlike its offset counterpart, digital production allows you to make each piece unique. Whether you’re personalizing a sales sheet for individual sales representatives or creating hyperpersonalized marketing collateral that utilizes consumer data to switch out copy and imagery to reflect individual buying preferences – digital printing is what you’re looking for.
  • Quick turn – Need your finished product within a couple of days? Digital production eliminates the added time of plates and make-ready.

Digital Printing Cons:

  • Limited Size – Digital production is limited to the size of sheet that can feed through the press. Most presses are limited to a 12″ x 18″ sheet.
  • No PMS Colors – Digital presses utilize toner powder to transfer an image to piece of paper. Although in recent years, presses have been much more apt to match Pantone colors – they cannot lay down your specific PMS hue.
  • Lower Quality – Although, the quality of image that a digital press can lay down has improved dramatically over the last couple years, it is still not as refined as an offset produced image.

Offset Printing Pros:

  • Larger Runs – Often times, a print run greater than 500 units will yield a lower cost per unit when produced conventionally.
  • Better Quality – In offset production, you’ll experience higher image quality, higher resolution and the fear of banding (or streaking) can be eliminated.
  • Specialized colors & techniques – Offset presses can print Pantone colors and utilize gloss/dull varnishes for added texture.
  • Larger format – Many conventional presses can handle a press sheet up to 40″ wide. This allows you to play with a much larger image area (typically 25″ x 38″) to use at your disposal.

Offset Printing Cons:

  • Longer turn times – Offset production requires the added time of producing plates, mix inks, and press make-ready to bring ink densities up to par.  Drying time for inks also add to the time it takes to turn your project.
  • Customization – Personalization is limited to what can be added with inkjet technology.
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