If you’re planning a private or commercial printing project and are shopping around for the right print company, there are two phrases you’re likely to keep coming across: digital printing and offset printing. What are the differences and advantages of each? Keep reading to learn more.

What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is a traditional method of printing dating back to the 19th Century.

Common with large-scale printing projects like magazines and newspapers, modern offset printing involves converting finalized designs into metal plates for each color of the CMYK color model. In the printing process, the images from the metal plates and transferred onto rubber blankets and rollers which then deliver the final image to the paper or substrate.

Offset printing is sometimes called offset lithography, because it uses the oil and water to differentiate between image and non-image areas rather than different surface levels on the plates, similar to traditional lithography.

Pros and Cons of Offset Printing

  • Pro: Ideal for large or commercial-scale print runs with a need for consistency.
  • Con: High turnover times associated with complicated set-up.
  • Con: Edits and proofing are time-consuming and costly.
  • Con: Large paper volume and chemicals used in printing result in a high environmental impact.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is a modern technique in which high-tech machines like laser and inkjet printers apply ink and toner directly onto the paper. Notably this eliminates the need for a printing plate. Inkjet printers spray droplets of ink onto the substrate from small nozzles, while laser printers use electrical charges on a metal drum cylinder to attract toner particles to the paper.

Pros and Cons of Digital Printing

  • Con: Offset printing is generally better for larger sheets of paper such as broadleaf newsprint.
  • Pro: Low set up costs and short turnaround times.
  • Pro: Minimum quantities are as low as a single copy.
  • Pro: Last-minute changes to design are less problematic than with traditional offset printing.
  • Pro: Accommodates variable data printing, such as custom codes and addresses on direct mail.

Whether your project is best suited for offset printing or digital, contact Merritt Graphics Print & Graphics Services. An industry leader in traditional, digital, on-demand and variable data printing solutions, Merritt Graphics can work with any client on projects of any size. From brochures and greeting cards to store signage and direct mail marketing campaigns, Merritt Graphics does it all.