Should I Use Offset or Digital Printing?

Offset printing has been the go-to choice for decades when people are looking to print in large quantities. Offset printing works by making a plate that has the image or text you want to print and pressing it onto each page to reproduce it. Digital printing has been getting a lot of attention lately, but many people are hesitant to try it due to misconceptions about the cost and quality of prints. So which method is really best?

What is the Difference?

Offset printing is often considered to produce much higher quality prints than digital printing. This may have been true when digital printing first came around, but the technology behind it has made great strides in increasing digital print quality. Digital printers that used to only print on one size or weight of paper can now print on a whole plethora of different papers, including specially designed paper just for digital printing.
Nowadays, most people would not be able to tell the difference between an offset or digitally printed page. The prints can be more consistent from digital too, as offset requires more variables like ink and water balance that can affect the process and cause small differences in batches. Additionally, you can have a much greater level of customization now with digital printing. Digital printing technology now includes variable data printing, which allows each individual page within a larger run of prints to have completely different text, headers, images and more.

Is Offset Printing Less Expensive than Digital?

This is where the biggest differences between offset and digital printing begin to show. While one may not be inherently better than the other, one can be better for your specific purposes. In general, offset printing is considered to be easier with very high quantity prints, or runs of over 5,000 copies. While offset may have a higher initial cost due to setup, that cost reduces with each additional copy as the actual printing process can be much quicker per page. Digital printing is more cost effective in print runs below 5,000 standard 8.5X11” sheets due to the lower initial cost. Now, while the initial costs can be easily compared, the ROIs can be a little more complicated when you consider how far digital printing has come with customization. Highly customized campaigns may sometimes have higher initial costs per run, but they have some of the best ROI rates compared to plain mailers or e-mail marketing.

Both offset printing and digital printing have their place in the printing world. Neither is particularly “better” per se, but due to differences in price you should consider the size of your run and amount you can invest initially into account when making a decision. If you would like to learn more about digital or offset printing, call Brooks Litho today to see how we can help.