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Offset vs. Digital Printing - What's the Difference?


When you hear printers talk about offset or digital printing, you may not be 100% sure what the difference is - or why you should care. So we're going to touch on what's important to customers when they consider these printing options. In this issue we'll cover offset printing, and next month we'll cover digital printing.


Offset printing (AKA offset lithography) is still the most popular commercial printing method, although digital is more widespread every year. Offset printing presses transfer images from plates to rubber blankets. The blanket comes in contact with the paper and prints your image. So quite literally, the image offsets from the blanket to the paper.
That's all the print 'geekiness' you really need. What should matter to you as a customer are the benefits and characteristics of an offset print job.


Benefits of Offset Printing
1. Better quality - Print quality is better (sharper) with offset printing, particularly with your images and with spot (Pantone®) colors. Color matching overall is better on offset presses.
2. Cost effective for long runs - Offset presses are the most economical method for printing large quantities. These presses run very fast and very efficiently. If you were producing, say, 10,000 copies of a marketing brochure or a recruitment campaign kit for your college or university, printing them offset would be the best method.
3. Wider paper options - You have hundreds of papers and other substrates to choose from when your job prints offset. Different colors, finishes, and weights...the choices are almost endless.
4. Broader format options - There's a lot more you can produce using offset equipment, including pocket folders and multipage newsletters and brochures. Here at Print-Tech, we can print a maximum size of 20" x 29" on our offset presses. We have all Heidelberg offset presses, including our 5-color press that also perfects (prints both sides at once). Heidelberg presses are renowned for their high quality and versatility.

Characteristics of Offset Printing
1. One static copy - An offset print run is typically one version that's printed for everyone. If you want to personalize or version your job for particular people or audiences, you'd look at digital printing. But keep in mind, however, that you can achieve a level of customization by printing part of the job offset and part digitally. For example, you could print the text pages of a booklet on offset, print the covers digitally, and "marry" the two parts in the bindery. We do a lot of this type of hybrid printing.
2. Press checks - With offset, you can come to our print facility to see and approve your job on press, which still brings a strong measure of satisfaction to many customers.

In a nutshell, these are the key features and characteristics of an OFFSET PRINT JOB.

Production times are a bit longer than for digitally run jobs, but thanks to efficiencies in print technology, we can now print and deliver offset jobs faster than ever before.

Here at Print-Tech, we offer a wide range of printing services, including offset and digital. Next month we'll cover digital printing. We're happy to discuss the best method for your next print job!


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