Digital and offset, what is the difference and how do you know when to use each one for your project?
As a print buyer, you need to understand the key differences between the two processes as it does affect pricing. The more thought-out decision the better results on your printing project.
Offset printing utilizes aluminum-based plates for every color during the printing process. Each plate has to be laser etched using information from a digital file of the image. The plate is attached to a roller, known as the plate cylinder, which will transfer ink to another cylinder with a rubber sheet known as a blanket, which then rolls the ink onto paper, vinyl or, whatever print material is being used.
The digital printing process transfers the image digitally from a computer to digital printing equipment. Digital printing uses electrostatic rollers, more commonly known as drums, to apply toner to sheets of paper. There is a drum for each color used in this process. This is a similar process used by most inkjet printers.
How can the marriage of digital and offset work for you? What projects would bring together digital and offset? A union many printers consider questionable. Glad you asked!
First, we need to ask a few questions: How many pieces, copies, do you need? Does your project require copy regular changes? Does your project use QR Codes or other specific tracking information? Does your project require personalization, name, address, other information?
When logo or image color is important, let’s say on a marketing postcard or product brochure you may want to consider offset printing “shells”. In the print world, shells refer to preprinted products that are stocked for future imprinting. I will cover the importance of “shells” next week. You would then have the shells imprinted with the variable information and personalization using digital. We find this works well when the information changes from product to product, salesman to salesman, or market to market. This option also offers you a quicker turnaround and faster response to market changes.
Producing the initial “shell” with offset printing will give you high-quality color, allow you to print higher volumes which will reduce the initial cost. Producing your variable information digitally will give you the ability to meet market requirements of a short-run and quicker turnaround. It is a win, win for both your budget and marketing. Bottom line, your sales team can respond to new and existing customers faster, and your company will reap the financial reward.
Let’s get creative and talk about the marriage of digital and offset. COVID 19 has not kept digital and offset socially distant.
They are celebrating and you are invited to the party.