Pros & Cons of Digital & Offset Printing

What is Digital Printing? Digital printing doesn’t use plates the way offset does and therefor requires less setup time and cost. Digital printing shines when lower quantities are needed; think of runs of 100-500 greeting cards or 500-5,000 flyers.

Pros to Digital Printing:

  • Shorter turnaround. If you need it fast, digital usually offers quicker turnaround. Offset prints require additional setup and drying time.
  • Consistency. Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during press run.
  • Cheaper low volume printing. Short runs can be much more cost effective with digital printing. The set up fees on digital printing is generally much lower making shorter runs more cost effective.
  • Variable Data. Another benefit of digital printing is its variable data capability. When each piece needs a unique code, name or address, digital is the only way to go. For example, personalized letters can be printed with a different name and address on each piece. Offset printing cannot easily accommodate this need.
  • Proofing. Digital offers accurate proofs since you see an actual sample of the printed piece. Accurate color proofing for offset printing can be very expensive.
  • Customization. Without question, digital printing offers the most affordable way to customize marketing materials, direct mail pieces, letters, etc.
  • Less waste. Offset printing requires more paper for setting up the machine and adjusting the colors which creates a lot of wasted prints while digital does not.

What is Offset Printing? Offset printing technology uses plates, which are used to transfer an image onto a rubber roller, and then rolling that image onto a sheet of paper. It’s called offset because the ink is not transferred directly onto the paper.

Pros to Offset Printing:

  • Cheaper high quantity printing. It is more cost effective to print large quantities offset. Offset printing has a front-end cost load. Short runs may have a high unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing.
  • Printing medium. If you want a special paper, finish or unusual printing surface, or unique size then offset may be the best option, all be it a pricey option.
  • Specialty Inks. Digital printing cannot re-create special custom inks such as neon or metallic.

Still not sure which is right for you? Depending on the type of project you’re printing, digital printing is typically the best choice when you’re printing smaller quantities and need a fast turn around; and offset printing is typically the best choice when you’re printing higher quantities and are not in a time crunch to get your project done. Contact Rhino Digital Printing today and we’ll help you choose the best option for your print piece.

Rhino Digital Printing