Digital vs. offset printing: choosing the right technique - 99designs

When it comes to the printing of books, then commonly, there are two options available. One is DIGITAL TYPE PRINTING and OFFSET TYPE PRINTING. The overall output and the quality of both these types are almost the same. Just by looking at the book, it is challenging for anyone to decide whether it is printed in Digital Printing or Offset Printing. Only experts will be able to spot the difference, and it is that close.

In this case, we often get confused on which one I should go for, which suits my requirement and the advantages and disadvantages of both. For us, Printing is printing, right? But not exactly. Let’s talk in detail.

First, we will understand what Offset Printing is?

Offset Printing machines are highly sophisticated and big machines. They are generally very costly and can give output in four (CMYK) or five-colour colours (unique colours like gold, silver, copper, metallic or fluorescent inks etc.). Aluminium plates are used to transfer the image so that those plates can be later fit into the printing machine to start the printing. Images are then printed on paper using these plates and liquid ink. This type of printing takes a little longer to produce as there is more setup time. Offset printing just can’t be done last minute.

Now we will understand what Digital Printing is?

Digital Printing machines are more like “Copying” machines. But that gives us very identical per piece output as the input is provided in softcopy format. There are no plates in Digital Printing but instead use ink toner (like in laser printers), and these inks are mostly powder inks. When we wish to go for lower quantities, then Digital Printing is the best choice. We can even take a single print if required. This gives us a significant amount of flexibility to change inputs dynamically to change the output. Digital Printing machine also provides a very high-quality output which has vibrant colour, sharp & clear output. Each print is identical. These machines are not very big and are available in 2 types, one in 4/5 colour and the second in B/W.

What are the Advantages of Digital Printing?

· Setup costs are lower for short runs as no plates are involved

· Flexibility of printing as we can choose input anytime

· Possibility of lower minimum quantities (as low as 1, 20 or 50 pieces)

· Inexpensive black and white digital printing

· Output is very similar to Offset Printing

· Limited processes are involved in printing, so the task gets over faster

· When printing quantities are lower then it is economical compared to Offset Printing

What are the Advantages of Offset Printing,

· Large quantities can be printed cost-effectively compared to Digital Printing

· The more you print, the cheaper the price per piece

· We get flexibility with a large variety of paper types with custom finishes

· Special custom inks such as metallic or fluorescent colours can be used

· Highest possible printing quality, with greater detail and colour fidelity

· High-speed printing where per hour printing output is considered

In easy words, Offset Printing is the best choice when larger quantities are needed. The colour output is very accurate, crisp, sharp and clean. When it comes to book printing, Offset Printing is recommended when we need more than 500 books to be printed.

The Digital Printing process is faster compared to Offset Printing. It is directly done on paper like photocopy machines. Digital Printing is recommended when we want to print smaller quantities like 50,100, 200, 250 up to 500 books.

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