Offset Printing Vs. Digital Printing

If you engage in professional work like developing brochures, posters, business cards, or other marketing materials, then there are some things you need to know. You will require creating a perfect color scheme, layout, design, and copy. However, even after ensuring all these are outstanding, you must make another critical decision: Selecting between offset printing vs. digital printing.

In this article, you will learn what these types of printing entail, their benefits, drawbacks, and finally, the difference between the two techniques.

What is Offset Printing?

offset printi8ng machine in room

Offset printing, also considered lithography, is one of the popular types of printing, especially for the high volume commercial tasks. If you have never come across a newspaper running via huge rolls, that is offsetting. So how does this technology works? The initial step is that the printer burns your design onto metal plates. Each metal plate for each color and often the printer uses four colors (cyan, yellow, magenta, and black. Besides, offset printings still enable you to use custom ink colors.

The next step is transferring the design onto the rubber rolls. The contrasting ink colors get spread onto the rubber rolls and running the paper between them.

Advantages of Offset Printing

1. Top-notch image

Offset printing guarantees reliable, high-quality images. You can consider this printing method for distinct types, clean, and images without spots and streaks.

2. Exceptional Color Fidelity

Using offset printing gives both the color accuracy and the color balance in your design. Since offset printing can perfectly blend custom color ink for almost all jobs, it will get outstanding colors spot-on.

3. Works Smart

Offset printing is pondered as a great option that works equally on almost any type of material.

4. Cost-effective

This printing method gives the value of your money if you are printing large volumes. It will cost you a fortune to start this printing method. To start, you will need to invest cash into developing plates, which basically takes much time. Despite that, once you have it on board, you can use almost all types of materials, and you will spend less than digital printing.

Disadvantages of Offset Printing

  • Takes a longer time because you will require to create the plates
  • High cost especially if you are printing low-volume jobs
  • Offset printing causes awful fallout, particularly where an error occurs. In case you have a typing error, you will destroy a batch that is challenging to fix, which means you will start the process again.

What is Digital Printing?

printer working for digital printing

Digital printing entails developing digital files on a computer employing photo software, publishing software, or mapping software. The digital files are then transferred or sent to the printer, where maps, images, or photos are printed or transferred to the paper. The result can be laminated or mounted.  A good example of digital printing can be inkjet printers and laser printers.

What happens is that digital laser printing will use electricity to charge the paper in the entangled shape of the text, photo, or map. The release of printer toner occurs on the charged paper, and the steadiness of the unemployed toner is often expelled.

Essentially, the digital color laser printer employs colors emanating from the CMYK color palette. Due to this, the color output range restriction, particularly when graduated or gradient fill, is used. Nonetheless, digital laser printers are swift for people looking for faster turnaround printing.

If you are using inkjet printers, you must understand that the latter doesn’t need paper charging. Rather, ink cartridges release the ink that sprays letters, pictures, or map images onto the medium or paper.

Since the color inkjet printers primarily employ the RGB color palette, you will note that their color range is somehow larger. Despite that, it is not as fast as the laser printer counterparts. Inkjet printers provide more comprehensive details, and the last printing mimics photographs due to the color range. Because inkjet printers are relatively slower, they are not ideal for high-volume projects.

Advantages of Digital Printing

  • Faster turnaround time
  • Relatively cheap, especially for low-volume tasks
  • Inexpensive white and black digital printing
  • Reduced minimum qualities from as low as 1, 20, and 50 pieces
  • Variable data capacity, which means addresses, numbering, names, and codes can do effortlessly.

Disadvantages of Digital Printing

  • Fewer choices in materials to print
  • Minimal color fidelity
  • Expensive to create large volumes
  • Slightly lower sharpness, quality, and crispness

Offset Printing Vs. Digital Printing – Comparision

offset printing vs. digital printing

Several aspects make offset printing and digital printing different. The comparison table given below will help shed light on the features that make them different.

Offset Printing vs. Digital Printing – comparison table

AspectOffset PrintingDigital Printing
QualityOffset printing is ideal for someone looking to print larger materials (over 13×19 inches) or want to print on separate material. The quality of color is just awesome. The ink employed will take a longer time to dry.This is the right option if you are looking forward to printing regular cardstocks or paper. It produces excellent color quality, and the ink employed dries instantly.
SelectionIt is easy to print on various kinds of materials and papers. This printing method allows you to use metallic, gradients, and fluorescents.The choices of paper size are limited. There is a standard sheet size of 12×18 inches, but others are limited to 14×20.
TimeAlthough this printing method can handle high-volume tasks, more time will be required for plating and drying the ink.If you are using the digital printer for low-volume tasks, the turnaround will be instant.
CostIf it’s > 1,000 printed copies, this option can be most economical. High volume will reduce the price.If you are looking for < 1,000 printed copies, this printing method will be much cheaper.
Other PerksBetter color constancyEasy to receive hard-copy proofs instantly and cheaper.


In a nutshell, both offset printing and digital printing are ideal for your project. You only need to understand your needs (turnaround, material to print, the quality you want) and, of course, your budget.

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