In commercial printing, you have the option to go with offset printing or digital printing. While both have some benefits associated with them, many people often wonder what the true differences are between them. There is also a question about which is best for your commercial printing needs.
The first difference comes from the printing process itself, as a print broker will tell you. With an inkjet printer, you will have all the colors sprayed onto a page in a single pass. Offset printing, though, has each color of ink placed in a single layer and a page is pressed multiple times. This result is high quality professional pages that stand out with commercial offset printing where the digital printing through the inkjet can be subpar, depending on the quality of the printer.
With commercial printing, you will also find you need to set up your documents differently to be printed. Most consumer applications for desktop publishing will not be able to generate the results needed for a quality print job. That is because you need to consider the use of CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) graphics and separations when printing. Unlike digital printing, offset printing can also print in metallic and florescent inks. However, white ink is not typically a viable option in this medium.
Of course, with digital printing, there are some advantages. Since you don’t need to worry about burning plates and filling ink trays, you can cut a considerable amount of time from the job. Additionally, there is almost no time for the ink to dry and that can appeal to some people in a hurry. At the same time, you will also have the ability to run some small items at lower costs where quality is not a concern since digital printing can be done faster and with fewer change outs. You can also personalize a document with information, graphics and other items per page, unlike offset printing, which wouldn’t be a feasible option for small, personalized jobs.
As a print broker will confirm, there are times when offset commercial printing is still the best option. For example, when you have a high-end product you need a large quantity of copies of, these are a better choice. Once set up and ready to go, many have the ability to print anywhere from 15,000 – 18,000 sheets per hour. Another thing to consider is that as the number of copies increases, the cost decreases with offset printing. So 1,000 sheets will cost less per piece than 300 of the same sheet of paper.
You are also not limited in sheet size with this approach. While digital machines will have the largest sheet size being 13” x 19”, offset printers can handle larger sizes such as a 26” x 40” and that makes it a better choice when you need to work on a presentation piece or posters. When printing items such as this and image quality and color consistency are important, you will also find they are not as crisp and clear with a digital printer as they are when you use an offset machine and color can be better controlled by the operator of these higher end machines.
As you can see, there are differences between them. To help you through the process, a print broker can look at your project and help with your requirements for commercial offset printing to make sure your needs are being met. You will find the print broker will be invaluable when setting up any print job.