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The Difference Between Offset Printing and Digital Printing

Offset printing versus digital printingWhether you’re getting business cards, posters or brochures made for your business, there are a few things that need to be checked off the list. You already know the basic ground you need to cover, which includes the design, color theme, content, graphics, and layout.

However, these are not the only items that need to be checked off. One important decision to make is choosing between offset printing versus digital printing. Both types of printing have their pros and cons, making them suitable or unsuitable for certain types of projects.

We’ll cover the basic differences between the two so you can make an informed decision when it comes to selecting a process for the next printing project.

Going the Old School Route – Offset Printing

One of the older methods of printing, offset printing is also called lithography. This type of printing is popular for commercial hobs where printing takes place in high volumes. For example, the daily newspaper printing is offset printing.

The technology comprises of aluminum plates. The printer burns the design or words on the plates, which are transferred to rubber rolls. The colors spread on the rubber. Paper is run between the rubber rolls, getting the ink transferred to get a crisp, clean image.

The process is called offset printing as the ink is not directly transferred to paper.


  • Produces superior quality images without any streaks or spots.
  • Allows you to mix custom colors, producing better color fidelity.
  • Prints on any kind of material.
  • Once you’ve invested the initial amount, you can get more for your value by using the plates for printing large volumes.


  • The costs can run high on low-volume jobs.
  • Projects have longer timelines as the plates need to be created first.
  • Fallout can be bad. If a typo isn’t caught on the plates, it can ruin a complete batch.

Meet the New Contender – Digital Printing

Compared to digital printing, offset printing is a lot of processes and mechanical steps to start printing. Digital printing skips the proofing, plates, and rubber rolls. Instead, it uses toners in laser printers or larger printers that use liquid ink.

This type of printing is suitable for low-volume jobs e.g. 100 flyers or a few holiday greeting cards. The printer in your local library or the one hooked to your home computer is a digital printer. Printing companies have larger and more sophisticated models that create more precise images.


  • Digital printing has a faster turnaround time as it doesn’t require a lot of preparation.
  • No matter how many copies you make, each print will be identical; which reduces odd variations.
  • The process if cost-effective for low-volume jobs.
  • You can easily change the information you want to have printed for a project.


  • Most digital printers are not compatible with all printing materials.
  • There is less color fidelity as digital printers use standard inks to get a color match.
  • The cost is high for high-volume jobs.
  • Sharpness and image quality might be slightly low.

Now that you know the differences between offset printing and digital printing, you will be able to choose the one right for your printing needs. For more details and expert advice, contact Print & Web Designer at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we’ll help you find the right solution. 

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