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Digital vs. offset printing
As printing technologies advance and digital printing has really come to into its own, there might be some confusion as to which technology is the best one for the job. As it turns out, both digital and offset printing have their pros and cons. So how do you know which route to take when it's time for you to go to print?
When looking at the advantages of digital print it may seem like the only way to go. Digital prints straight from file to print. Creation of films and plates is not necessary – so virtually nonexistent setup costs make it a less expensive option. It is faster, and proofs from a digital press are accurate and consistent to the final product (WYSIWYG). If you need to make changes once your piece goes to print they can easily be made without much cost or causing huge delays. You can even use digital printing to take advantage of variable data printing – something not possible with offset.
However, there are good solid reasons why digital may not be a viable option for your project. For the most part, it is its limitations which can make it less than optimal at times. Digital prints in only 4 color process, which does not allow for any specialized color inks and cannot be color matched. Your paper choices are limited as well, since digital printers cannot print on thicker or some specialized papers. You are also limited in size, and – once you reach a certain volume of prints – offset becomes the more cost-effective option.
Overall, the quality of offset printing is still considered to be better. The inks on digital prints don’t absorb fully into the paper, which can cause cracking in the final piece where scored and folded – something you don’t get with offset. The ability to use color matching with offset printing allows you to get brighter, more vibrant colors. Customization of your final printed piece using specialty papers, finishes or sizes is only possible through offset. So it may be the only way you can go if these items are a factor.
Deciding which way to go will depend on the scope and requirements of each project. If you need a small quantity with a quick turn around where 4 color process is all you need, digital is your man. If you are printing large volume or if you are desiring a high quality print with creative finishes or papers, offset print is what you’ll need.
Jun 16, 2014
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