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Understanding The Differences Between Digital and Offset Printing


What Print Technique Should I Use?

Whether it’s rollup banners or professional business brochures, Kingston Printing can’t wait to help you accomplish your printing goals. Not sure which printing technique you should choose or which will be the cheaper option? Let’s breakdown the difference between offset and digital printing and figure out which option is more economical for your print needs.

What is Offset Printing?

Crisp, clean printing – offset was a favorite of the decades for a reason. For years, all professional and commercial projects were preferably printed using an offset printer. Newspapers and magazines, postcards and brochures – offset printing was the way to go.

Offset printing gets its name due to its technique of non-direct transference. What does this mean? Ink is transferred first from a printing plate (often made of aluminum) to a rubber sheet or roll; this rubber sheet then rolls the ink onto the paper, vinyl or other surface. Think of offset printing kind of like an industrial-sized stamp!

What is Digital Printing

The process of digital printing is different than offset printing; there are no plates or rubber stamps involved in digital printing like there are in the offset technique. Instead, digital printing offers two main types: laser printers that use toner and larger printers that use liquid ink. Digital printing allows for printers to press the digital-based images directly onto the various printing mediums – canvas, cardstock, photo paper or fabric, you name it.

Digital printing does have a major advantage when it comes to quick modifications: variable data printing (VDP). To easily alter names, addresses, or even images and fonts between variations of the same run, digital printing and VDP are a leap ahead.

Digital v. Offset Printing

The main difference between offset and digital printing begins with the print technique involved, but the cost difference is certainly a factor to consider!

Because offset printing uses unique plates for each project, the set up process costs extra right out of the gate. Regardless of quantity, most offset printing will require an upfront set up fee. Digital print uses no plates and therefore requires no set up fee; with digital printing you pay per piece!

Make the most economical choice for your project by knowing the objective of your printed pieces. For larger runs, offset printing has the advantage – the price per piece diminishes with quantity so the more pieces you are printing, the better your cost per piece. Professional printers may recommend using offset printing for runs of 500-1000 or more. For shorter runs, the economical choice will be digital printing; save on the upfront set up fee and only pay for what you need. Think of printing out 50 flyers or 100 Christmas cards – digital will save you money for this type of shorter run.

Is Offset Better Than Digital Printing?

Clearly both types of printing have their well-deserved place. Once offset printing is set up, the process runs very efficiently, producing both accurate color reproduction and high quality finish. For smaller runs, of course, digital is the financially smart choice. Don’t forget the advantage of VDP with digital printers though! Offset printing will only print the same piece; digital print can change names, addresses, colors and images to personalize your media towards your market.

Offset or digital – which printing technique is right for you? For more information regarding your current or future projects, give Kingston Printing a call at (785) 690 7222. We’d be more than delighted to answer your questions and help you find the right printing approach for your projects.

Ready to impress your clients with high quality print on your pieces? From superior local flyers to accomplished business pamphlets to high class business cards, represent yourself and your company well with professional, good-looking print that speaks to your commitment to excellence. Kingston can do the work for you – just contact us today! 

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