How to Choose Between Digital and Offset Printing

Samuel Thimothy - September 15, 2010

With digital printing increasing in popularity, options, and new features, it can seem appealing to choose digital printing over offset printing. However, it is important to know exactly which type of printing will be effective for the particular marketing campaign you are creating.

Offset printing, or offset lithography, is the most common high volume commercial printing technology. Offset printing creates high-quality images, and can work on a wide variety of surfaces (chipboard, plastic). Offset printing works best for high volume print runs because unit cost goes down as quantity printed goes up. With offset printing there are fixed costs associated pre-press and make-ready, thus with smaller quantities, it is not economical to print them on conventional offset press.

Digital printing eliminates a lot of the mechanical steps required for conventional printing. It has a shorter turnaround, has highly accurate counts, less waste, and fewer color inconstancy issues because it does not have to balance ink and water during a press run. Digital printing also allows you to use Variable Data Printing to customize each individual piece of your marketing material, providing you the capacity to do one-to-one marketing.

In the end, both types of printing has its benefits. Here is a simple list to help you figure out what is best for your printing needs.

  • Quantity – The unit cost for offset printing decreases as quantity increases. Digital printing is more cost-effective for short-run prints.
  • Medium – If you want to print on an unusual surface or size, offset printing provides the most flexibility and options.
  • Color – Digital prints use four-color process printing, so they may provide lower up-front costs. If you are only using black ink or one or two colors, then offset printing may be more cost-effective. Or if you are using the Pantone® Matching System, offset printing will provide the best match since it uses Pantone® ink.
  • Turnaround – Digital printing provides the quickest turnaround.
  • Proofing – In conventional offset printing, it is costly to do an actual press proof prior to the print run. With digital printing you can see a sample of the piece so it allows you to proof your printed material for copy and color and make changes if necessary without incurring additional charges.
  • Customization – If your goal is to do one-to-one marketing and want to provide variable and custom information for each individual who will be receiving your printed piece or want different versions of the same document, then digital printing is the most affordable option.

OneIMS provides many print marketing solutions and online marketing services. Contact us today at 1-888-ONE-IMS-1.

OneIMS is a Chicago Web Design Company as well as a technology-based marketing service provider. We specialize in integrated marketing solutions such as Search Engine Optimization, Pay-per-click advertisements and email marketing. We employ cross-media marketing solutions that are designed to deliver results. Some of those solutions are Variable Data Printing, Personalized URLs and custom Landing Pages and triggered emails.

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