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Offset Printing vs. Digital Printing

offset printing image

Offset printing and digital printing are both popular printing methods for various industry professionals. However, what is the difference between the two? Learn today at BDS.

Offset printing is a printing technique used primarily for professional prints. The offset printing process allows you to print on various materials, including metallic surfaces, canvas, metal goods, and more. This type of printing method is much more labor-intensive than digital printing, but that is only the beginning. There are key differences worth exploring when comparing offset printing and digital printing for your business.

BDS is here to make the comparison between the two more digestible. Today, we will explore the differences between the two in hopes of helping you better decide which method is suitable for your establishment.

How Does Offset Printing Work?

The offset printing process is a bit more complex than what you would find in a traditional printer. Offset printing works by transferring your image or design of choice from a plate (typically consisting of a metal substance like aluminum) to a rubbery surface known as a rubber blanket.

Once the image is successfully transferred onto the rubber blanket, it is transferred onto your chosen printing surface. As we mentioned, you can print various materials with offset printing, so many of these final surfaces will be larger types of materials like metal sheets, magnetic sheets, synthetic paper, and more.

You will often hear offset printing, referred to as a “lithography” printing method. Over time, offset lithography has become increasingly modern to match the advancement of printing technologies. Now, offset printing lithography can be found in common items you find day-to-day, like magazines, brochures, and more. This has helped offset printing evolve from something more industrial and industry-specific to more accessible and user-friendly for everyday professionals.

In modern cases, you can perform your offset printing just by using your computer! Since we can now perform offset printing digitally with our computers, you may be wondering if digital printing is still worth it.

What is Digital Printing, and How Does It Work?

digital printing image

In contrast to offset printing, digital printing is a method of printing a digital image directly onto various media and materials. When we commonly refer to printing, we are typically referring to the digital printing method, as the world has grown to rely heavily on digital technology to perform prints and other essential daily functions. Digital printing should not seem too unfamiliar to you, but in case it does, there are a few key things to keep in mind.

For starters, digital printing is primarily used professionally. However, as technology becomes more user-friendly and accessible, many creatives and everyday people are taking advantage of digital printing. Digital printing typically involves small-run jobs from digital sources to print with various printers. The most compatible printers for digital printing include:

Check out this video on the differences between laser printers and inkjet today with BDS Sales & Solutions Engineer, Kara Sheftel!

These printers are top-rated and accessible to most people. The beauty of digital printing is the fast turnaround times. When we consider offset printing, it typically can take a bit longer to print such large-scale prints. This is because of the advanced technology required for prints and the heavy-duty surfaces they print on. For most business professionals, digital printing helps them print their business documents and even larger scale prints at a high speed with optimal detail and efficiency.

Because digital printing requires less work than offset printing, it has become a dominant force due to its cost-effective measures and incredible capabilities. In fact, many digital printers today surpass offset printing technology by producing larger prints at a higher frequency at a lower price.

What is the Difference Between Offset and Digital Printing?

The difference between offset printing and digital printing boils down to methodology, time, and materials printed. For example, offset printing utilizes printing plates and wet ink for prints, which means it will take offset printers longer to produce prints due to the added steps. In contrast, digital printing uses electronic files and technology to produce prints, allowing quicker turnaround times for prints.

It is worth noting that although offset printing is more laborious and time-consuming, you end up achieving maximum detail and high quality. This does not mean that digital printing suffers in quality. In fact, much of the quality stands up to par with offset printing, depending on what you are printing. However, offset printing has a slight competitive edge, considering the wide spectrum of ink colors available on offset printers that simply cannot be beaten by digital printers.

In the end, discovering which printing method works best for you can really boil down to preference. As you can see, both methods have their own unique strengths and weaknesses that make choosing one over the other objectively difficult. The advantages of offset printing may be more applicable for one industry and irrelevant for another.

To help settle the debate and figure out the best method for your office, reach out to a BDS expert for assistance. In fact, we have various printers available with offset and digital printing capabilities. Our service is quick, efficient, and personable. We will be by your side the entire buying journey, from filling out an inquiry to discussing setup costs and implementation of our devices. You can count on BDS, your #1 local trusted print partner in New England and Florida.

To stay updated on the latest industry news and trends, follow us on LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. We also regularly offer free resources on our blog and knowledge base!

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Written By:BDS
February 14, 2024

About BDS:

BDS is an authorized office technology provider/reseller with corporate headquarters in Marlborough, MA, and offices throughout New England and Florida. Since 1978, we have supported local customers in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Florida with copier and printing solutions.
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