What sets digital and offset printing apart? And how can you determine which one is best for your specific project?
As a print buyer, it’s crucial to understand the key distinctions between these two processes, as they directly impact pricing. Making a well-informed decision will lead to superior results for your printing endeavor.
Offset printing involves the use of aluminum-based plates for each color in the printing process. These plates are laser etched using digital image files. Attached to a roller called the plate cylinder, the plate transfers ink to another cylinder with a rubber sheet known as a blanket. This blanket then rolls the ink onto the chosen print material, whether it be paper, vinyl, or any other medium.
On the other hand, digital printing relies on the digital transfer of images from a computer to digital printing equipment. Electrostatic rollers, commonly referred to as drums, are used to apply toner to sheets of paper. There is a separate drum for each color used in the process, similar to the method employed by most inkjet printers.
But how can the combination of digital and offset printing benefit you? Which projects are best suited for this marriage? This union, often viewed skeptically by many printers, holds great potential. I’m glad you asked!
To determine the ideal printing method for your project, let’s consider a few factors: How many copies do you require? Does your project involve frequent changes to the copy? Will you be incorporating QR codes or other specific tracking information? Is personalization necessary, such as including names, addresses, or other details?
When it comes to projects where logo or image color is crucial, such as marketing postcards or product brochures, offset printing “shells” may be worth considering. In the print world, shells refer to preprinted products that are ready for future customization. To read more about shells, click on the link, “What is a Shell?” In this scenario, you would have the shells imprinted with variable information and personalization using digital printing. This approach works exceptionally well when the information varies from product to product, salesman to salesman, or market to market. Additionally, it offers a faster turnaround time and increased responsiveness to market changes.
By producing the initial “shell” with offset printing, you can achieve high-quality color and print higher volumes, ultimately reducing the initial cost. Utilizing digital printing for variable information allows you to meet market requirements for short-run projects with quicker turnarounds. It’s a win-win situation for both your budget and marketing efforts. In essence, your sales team can respond to new and existing customers more swiftly, leading to financial rewards for your company.
Now, let’s get creative and dive into the possibilities of combining digital and offset printing. Despite the social distancing measures brought about by COVID-19, digital and offset are coming together to celebrate. And guess what? You’re invited to the party!