Offset printing has been around for over a century and for many years it has been the most effective way to print almost everything commercial: newspapers, magazines, booklets, brochures etc. In general, offset printing works by passing ink from a plate to a rubber sheet, which then rolls the ink onto paper, or other surface. It is unlike digital printing, which does not work with plates to transfer ink to paper.

For potential print customers, the distinction between offset printing and digital printing is that digital printing is more effective for short run printing and offset printing is more effective for higher volume printing.

Each forms of printing create print products that are quite high in quality and match up with professional quality printing for businesses. The important factors that make customers prefer one over the other is usually the volume of the print project and project needs.

There are additional differences—such as color features and sheet sizes that vary between offset printing versus digital printing. Beside those fairly minor variations, the real finished products relating to offset printing versus digital printing are notably similar. The difference, as it seems, is rooted much deeper in price and budget than any other thing; and even these figures are subject to your business needs.

Better plate than never

Given that offset printing makes use of plates, each print job must be made into a plate, and the press must be separately set up for every single job. This method costs money and adds a start-up fee to your print job without regard for quantity. Considering that digital printing do not use plates, no setup fees are required which means you pay a flat price per piece.

Short runs vs. large runs

Here’s where it gets interesting, and remarkable for small companies wanting to make the most of their return on investment: For short runs, digital printing negates a setup fee therefore it can be considerably more economical compared to offset printing. Nevertheless, seeing as offset presses can print so quickly your offset price per piece is not fixed – it decreases with quantity. So, for large runs offset printing is far more economical than digital printing due to the fact that your setup fee is absorbed by the diminished price per piece.

Subject to the type of project you’re printing, digital printing is generally the best option when you’re printing below 500 to 1,000 pieces; and offset printing is normally the best option when you’re printing above 500 to 1,000 pieces.

Understand that lots of resources or materials that attempt to give and exposition on offset printing versus digital printing have a vested interest in one or the other; however when you work with a printing company that has cutting-edge printing presses for both offset and digital applications, you can get objective recommendations that would work within your budget, volume and quality specifications so it’s possible to get the best possible print work for your money – whether it’s offset or digital.