The lines get blurred when discussing Digital Printing and Offset Printing. With the improved quality of digital and the technological evolution of offset, deciding which manufacturing process will be best for your project is not always easy.
Digital printing is a broad term that includes processes as simple as using the black ink laser printer sitting behind you, and as complex as full color reproduction with changing photos and text.
Here are some basics to help you decide what's best for your project:
Quantity - Offset printing has more cost to set up a job than digital so as the quantity increases, costs drop. Digital, however has more of a constant cost per piece that doesn't allow for much saving with higher quantities. This is not a hard rule but compare prices at around 1000 pieces, depending on the project size, and you'll start to see the difference.
Paper - Digital processes are evolving but the choices of paper available to print on can limit your ability to have ultimate flexibility in your paper choices, while offset printing allows for any substrate.
Color - The digital manufacturing process prints the same four colors to create all color, CMYK. Offset uses the same process but has the option to print spot colors to match colors exactly. The digital process limits your ability to get the color exact in some projects. To understand more about Spot vs. Process Colors read this article from our newsletter archives.
Variable imaging - The digital process is the only process that allows for variable images to be different on every piece. You can change pictures, text, colors, etc. Offset printing does not allow for changes from piece to piece. Direct mail addressing must be applied during the mailing process.
Digital printing has been a great addition to the printing industry allowing for short run affordability and variable imaging that was never available prior to its introduction. Digital printing is not taking the place of offset printing, it's allowing for creativity in marketing efforts that have not existed until now.
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