From the business point of view, digital printing is best suited for short-term projects and especially for those whose TAT is short. On the other hand, offset printing is best suited for projects where the customer needs high volumes of printing (identical copies) over a time.
To be fair, Jennings Print, a leading printing company, sheds some light on the fact that both types of printing processes produce high-quality prints. In short, whether you need printed copies for your art gallery or your commercial fundraiser, both the processes can come in handy.
There are some factors that push a customer to choose either one of the two. Some of the driving forces behind the decisions made are the volume of the project and whether the project is a niche. Other factors include –
- Sheet size
- Colour capabilities, etc.
Technological differences between the two
In simple terms, the difference in technology in both the printing processes is the way an image or text gets transferred to a sheet of paper. The transfer process is the reason behind there is a huge difference in overhead costs when it comes to running the respective machinery. The difference in overhead costs reflects in the billing amount charged from the customers. Let us take a closer look:
- Offset printing
Offset printing machinery makes the use of metal plates etched with the images or texts that changes with each printing project. The impression of the images or text in the plate gets transferred when ink is applied to the same. If one takes a closer look, the process of setting up an offset machine for each printing project is time-consuming, and more on the expensive side when compared to digital printing.
- Digital printing
Digital printing machines make the use of electrostatic rollers (or drums as they call it) that uses a toner to print impressions on paper. Electrostatic charge is actively used to attract toner molecules based on their density. The toner, post application on to the paper is then fused to the same using heat when the sheet passes through a high-heat zone (or unit/section) within the machine.
Which is better then?
As mentioned earlier, offset printing machines makes the use of etched metal plates which needs to be prepared beforehand so that the right impressions are on the paper. Preparing the plates is a costly affair and once the project at hand is complete, the plates are of no use. It is not only a costly affair for the printing company but for the customer who is looking to get their job done. An upfront fee is often taken by the printing company to get things started.
Digital printing is a bit on the cheaper side since no advance payment is necessary for a project that needs a limited amount of prints. Offset printing costs diminishes with time meaning when looked at it from an analytical viewpoint, if the printing project needs more than 2,000 sheets of paper, offset printing is best.
The question mentioned in the topic of the blog does not have a straight answer since it all depends on the size of the project. Therefore, in all fairness, the answer is – ‘both’ since you can go for any one of the two depending on your requirements.