Digital vs Offset Printing: Which is Right for You?

Most people think of printers as being typical desk printers or maybe an office multifunction printer. However, commercial printing businesses know that those machines just aren’t made to do the type of incredible printing needed in their operation. Large printers designed to print stunning images are the name of the game when it comes to production print operations.

When choosing the right type of printer for this type of specialized need, it’s not as easy as going to the local office supply store and picking something off the shelf. Specialized printers are needed to do the job. And, in many cases, the exact type of printer required is what will make all the difference.

Ultimately, the discussion comes down to digital or offset printing for many production print businesses. Which wide format printer is the right choice for the job? There are some important considerations to keep in mind when making this important decision.

How Much Volume?

One of the most important determining factors when deciding between digital and offset printing is the volume that will be printed. Digital printing is designed to be the most flexible when printing. This makes it a great solution for businesses that may be printing an image only a handful of times.

On the other hand, offset printers use metal plates to transfer ink to the printing medium. If a change is made to the image being printed then a new plate needs to be created. This can prove to be costly and is not realistic just to simply print a small number of copies.

For a business that might be doing small orders for clients then digital printing will likely be the best choice. For a production print business pushing out high volumes of the same type of brochure, poster, or other printed material; offset printing will be best.

What Image Quality is Needed?

Image quality is another factor that can play a big role in determining whether a business should choose digital or offset printing. Both printers produce exceptional images but there are some differences that are important to understand.

Offset printers will win in the battle of image quality. When applying the ink to the print medium, there is no risk of spots or streaks. The final image is top tier quality. That’s not to say digital printing is bad by any means. However, digital printing means the colors are absorbed by the print medium and the final product can be prone to blemishes or cracking.

In most cases, both print methods will be exceptional. However, if having the top quality print is important then offset printers will win this round.

What Size of Printing is Being Done?

Both digital and offset printers are considered wide format printers which means they can print on larger sheets of paper than what people would typically see in a standard office printer. This is what makes these printers ideal of taking on production print jobs.

With that said, there are some differences in the sizes of paper that each can handle. Digital printers tap out at 29-inch-wide sheets of paper while offset printers can go as high as 40-inch-wide sheets. Both sheets of paper are quite large and should be sufficient for many print jobs. However, for businesses that project to print regularly over 29-inches then offset printing will be the obvious choice.

Don’t Forget Budget

Of course, budget is always a consideration in the production print business. When it comes to digital and offset printers, both can be significant investments for any business. The initial cost, however, is not the ongoing concern. Most businesses will actually see the difference in the ongoing cost per print for operating the printer.

These are large printers designed to print incredible quality images on large sheets of paper. Each print will naturally be more costly than a simple letter size print from a standard office computer. With that said, the price can vary wildly between these two wide format options.

Digital printing is the more affordable of the two when printing smaller volumes. This is because it simply transfers the digital image to the print medium. It’s relatively easy to print a few copies and then move on to a new project with a digital printer.

Offset printers are much more costly per print when considering small volumes. Where it becomes more competitive is in higher volumes. Since a new metal plate needs to be created for each print job, offset printing is definitely designed for bigger jobs and is not cost effective to use for small volume jobs.

Which One to Choose?

Making a decision between a digital printer and an offset printer can be a tough choice. There are some clear advantages and disadvantages to both. If you’re still uncertain of the way to go, contact the wide format printing experts at Perry ProTECH today.

2022-02-28T12:31:54-04:00March 21st, 2022|
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