What Is the Difference Between Offset Printing and Digital Printing?

yellowprinting

New member
[FONT=微软雅黑]What Is the Difference Between Offset Printing and Digital Printing?


While working with our new customers, lot of customers will ask us that what is the difference between offset printing and digital printing? Here’s our details answers for this question:

The Printing Press - the traditional method for printing was invented independently by German Johannes Gutenberg in the year 1450(This is same with the theory of movable type printing invented by Bi Sheng earlier ). It’s a process by which ink is rolled on to paper and rests on the surface as well as being absorbed into the paper. This process is my preferred choice because its gives me the most accurate control of color, variation of color and paper weight.

Offset Printing methodology

For offset printing, Full color (CMYK) and Pantone spot color (PMS) is used. In this process, an image is transferred to paper using ink and plates. It will result in very high quality and cost effective prints for longer print runs. A minimum of 1000 copies is required for a single page A4 brochure to achieve cost effectiveness.

Below is a list of pros and cons:

Pros

1) Allows the most wide range of color re-production. Bright florescence, Pantones®, metallic, foils and varnishes can all be produced using this method of printing.

2) Allows the most accurate color re-production and consistency

3) A wide variety paper weights, size and textures

4) Light inks such as white ink can be printed on a dark surface of a paper (i.e.. White ink of black paper)

5) Adjustments to ink density

6) Better quality inks

7) Large print runs exceeding 200,000+ copies can be reproduced and extremely quickly

Cons

1) Setup time is slower and a lot more production steps are required

2) Cost of printing low quantities (under 500 copies) can be more expensive

3) You can’t just print out only one copy

4) Drying time is considerable

5) Printing press machines can be fairly large and require trained personal (press men) to work and maintain them

6) For quality print results an experienced press man is a necessity

7) A lot more attention to detail is required to make sure that the quality of the results is acceptable. An experiencing graphic designer and press man working together can ensure the best results though.
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Digital Printing

For digital printing, either CMYK or RGB may be used, but occurrences of color shifts may happen with RGB content. Typically, short print runs of 1000 or fewer copies are common with digital printing jobs. It takes a shorter time to set up a file to print, since there are no printing plates used. Thus, a completed file can be proofed, and the required quantity run within a shorter period of time. For accurate color checking, proofs can be printed on final stock choice. It’s originally invented as a pre-press digital proofing system, it was designed to emulate the final printing press results giving customers an idea of what their final printing press project would look like. The process eventually evolved into an alternative printing solution.

Below is a list of pros and cons to Digital Printing:

Pros

1) Short turn around time, quick, no drying time for inks

2) Affordable, cost effective solution for small print runs under 500 copies

3) Can be printed onto a variety of mediums including; paper, glass, metal, marble

4) Can do very large format printing exceeding 10 feet in diameter

5) You can print out just one copy

6) Digital printers are more readily available and getting pricing is faster and does not require a formal quote from a print representative

Cons

1) Color consistancy is poor
2) Larger quantities exceeding 500 copies can be more expensive
3) Pantone® colors can not be reproduced
4) Difficult to reproduce colors accurately
5) Can not reproduce metallic inks, foils or varnishes
6) Weight of paper is limited and size of paper in most cases
7) Final results are limited to a semi-gloss or gloss finish
8) Not able to reproduce a matte finish very well
9) Ink is not not absorbed into paper rather it sits on top of paper and makes it more susceptible to cracking
10) Cannot produce white or light colored inks on dark papers


Summary:

Offset printing uses plates when transferring images, while digital printing does not use plates.

Offset printing is typically used for longer print runs (minimum 1000 copies), while digital is mainly for shorter print runs of 1000 copies or less.

Offset printing offers the ability to specify PMS color, while digital does not use PMS color selection.

Offset gives a better final printed effect of the solid areas of color, than digital.
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Craig

Well-known member
Your digital cons may be accurate when talking about the entry level color copiers, but I don't consider them correct with the production devices. Unfortunately the stigma of digital print 10 years ago is still looked at as relevant today. It would be like comparing letterpress to offset. Offset shops need to get over the fact that there is a place for digital printing, just like the old letterpress shops had to give way to offset. It's NOT about who is better and who is worse, it is more about what fits the needs of the customer. So instead of being concerned about the differences, just sell what fits the customers needs. I would bet 1/2 couldn't tell if a sheet was printed offset or came off a production digital device. BTW we run Metallic Gold and Silver as well as Clear ink digitally.
 

buckeyewta

Well-known member
90% of our customers will never see a difference in quality from our jobs and offset. The new digital presses are to the point where there is very little difference. Our new Xerox Versant 80 even does a decent matte finish.
 

AP90

Well-known member
This has to be spam. Pretty sure I read that whole post on a website one time. I feel like it's old stuff too. White can now be printed digitally. And I don't know about you guys, but my machine very accurate in color output and consistency. I've a 2k sheet run, the first will look like the last, and I don't have to worry about it with the full width array from Xerox.

To the OP, if your going to post something like this, then have enough courtesy to write it yourself and not make too many generalizations. My digital press will out produce a 1 color AB dick, just like a 7 color Heidelberg will out produce my press. But both have their necessary uses.
 

arossetti

Well-known member
The simple responses by some inferring that offset is a superior product makes me think that this is the same argument from 10 years ago. I would implore you to take a look at high end digital printing in today's market.
 

Print_Curious

New member
Surprised that personalised print is not even mentioned while that makes a big difference in the cost effectiveness between litho and digital. The latest digital machines boasts 'offset like quality' and color consistency (try to talk color consistency without skilled pressmen in offset printing) and they are close. It will depend on the end customer whether he can say the difference between litho or digital. Wonder how many of them carry magnifying glasses or think about sniffing the litho ink out.
 

afilsonCSA

Member
First Let me say I work for Canon, just for full disclosure. Your Con's list for digital printing seems to indicate that your only talking about digital toner devices. There is a whole world of inkjet devices on the market that will challenge many of your con's. for example:


Cons

1) Color consistency is poor
This may be true for toner as the temperatures of rollers and fusers vary during a run, but in inkjet color consistency is almost legendary. Far more stable than offset printing.

2) Larger quantities exceeding 500 copies can be more expensive
With 5500 images a min. devices, copy counts are much higher and still have significant savings over offset.


3) Pantone® colors can not be reproduced
InkJet (as does some toner devices) offers spot color capabilities, so for example if you want to match PMS300 on uncoated stock, chances are you can get close. It is very stock dependent though.

4) Difficult to reproduce colors accurately
I just plain disagree. True there are gamut limitations usually surrounding stock choices, but device to device matching is far easier on an inkjet press, because of the stability and repeat ability of inkjet printing. If you are using good paper, you will rival offset color gamuts.

5) Can not reproduce metallic inks, foils or varnishes
Mostly true, but I just read an article that this may be changing.


6) Weight of paper is limited and size of paper in most cases
Inkjet presses can print very large sizes, and small sizes, there are paper weight limitations in small format devices but it is fairly wide in production systems, especially large format inkjet printing.


7) Final results are limited to a semi-gloss or gloss finish
Nothing could be further from the truth. uncoated stocks work extremely well on digital inkjet systems.

8) Not able to reproduce a matte finish very well
Again, not true. take a look at digital inkjet printing. you will mostly see the opposite.


9) Ink is not not absorbed into paper rather it sits on top of paper and makes it more susceptible to cracking.
If you are talking about toner, this may be accurate, but in digital inkjet the problem is it soaks in too much. The battle there is keeping it at the surface so you don't lose contrast, and limit your color gamut. Its all about the paper.


10) Cannot produce white or light colored inks on dark papers
True.
 

MailGuru

Well-known member
@afilsonCSA: The OP appears to be spam, just trying to use this forum as an advertising vehicle without paying a sponsorship fee. Not good.
 

jpfulton248

Well-known member
On the subject of the actual content of OP's spam post, the funny thing is we have both a 2 color perfecter (1 color per side) which is incapable of doing process color and I have a few years old Xerox J75. Many of OP's statements do not apply in our situation. After years of running black 99.9% of the time try to convince my press operator to try running yellow. Forget color matching. Can't run coated stock. The list goes on. I realize this is specifically because of the type of press we have, however it's still all true. Meanwhile, it would be a huge pain in the ass but technically our J's fiery can color match pantone colors. Pantone color matching built into the software (I think this is just a Fiery workstation thing... not specific to Xerox).
 

gordo

Well-known member
The key difference is that with a conventional press, the press manufacturer makes its profit on the sale of the individual press to the printshop - and it could be a over decade before they sell another press to that same printshop. However, with a digital press, the press manufacturer makes its profit on the sale of the individual press and, more importantly, the ongoing wide profit margins of the consumables - the liquid gold cash cow which is the ink/toner. Given the rapid evolution of digital devices it's also probable that the digital press will be replaced in less than 10 years - so the cycle of sales opportunity is shorter for the manufacturer.
 
D

Deleted member 16349

Guest
The key difference is that with a conventional press, the press manufacturer makes its profit on the sale of the individual press to the printshop - and it could be a over decade before they sell another press to that same printshop. However, with a digital press, the press manufacturer makes its profit on the sale of the individual press and, more importantly, the ongoing wide profit margins of the consumables - the liquid gold cash cow which is the ink/toner. Given the rapid evolution of digital devices it's also probable that the digital press will be replaced in less than 10 years - so the cycle of sales opportunity is shorter for the manufacturer.

The issue that would worry me is the continued support of any specific digital technology.

Offset presses are quite a basic technology. Even if a specific press supplier goes bankrupt, it should not be such a bid deal to get metal parts replaced by machine shops or rollers covered, etc.

Digital technology in a way is disposable and not repairable. If a digital supplier decides that a whole market or a specific technology is not profitable, then they will drop it like a hot potato. Think about your own experience with digital products. They not only get obsolete with better technology but the old technology is not supported at some point. With digital technology one can get into a technology trap where there needs to be a continued upgrading of software and hardware from specific suppliers.

Suppliers are only your friends if they can get money out of you no matter what the technology is. :)

If printers are really poor, it is hard to see them supporting expensive technology indefinitely. I could see the high tech companies eventually getting tired of trying to make money in such a situation. They might just say, time for a restructuring of the business. Good bye printers. It seems like it has already started.
 

gordo

Well-known member
The issue that would worry me is the continued support of any specific digital technology.

Offset presses are quite a basic technology. Even if a specific press supplier goes bankrupt, it should not be such a bid deal to get metal parts replaced by machine shops or rollers covered, etc.

Digital technology in a way is disposable and not repairable. If a digital supplier decides that a whole market or a specific technology is not profitable, then they will drop it like a hot potato. Think about your own experience with digital products. They not only get obsolete with better technology but the old technology is not supported at some point. With digital technology one can get into a technology trap where there needs to be a continued upgrading of software and hardware from specific suppliers.

Suppliers are only your friends if they can get money out of you no matter what the technology is. :)

If printers are really poor, it is hard to see them supporting expensive technology indefinitely. I could see the high tech companies eventually getting tired of trying to make money in such a situation. They might just say, time for a restructuring of the business. Good bye printers. It seems like it has already started.


Just went to the Kodak Prosper website to get a quote from a press release supporting what you wrote and got this - just as good:

Try%20Again_zpsgx8ctamv.jpg
 
D

Deleted member 16349

Guest
Just went to the Kodak Prosper website to get a quote from a press release supporting what you wrote and got this - just as good:

Try%20Again_zpsgx8ctamv.jpg

As they say in the UK. Brilliant! :)
 

kingpd@businessprints.net

Well-known member
The issue that would worry me is the continued support of any specific digital technology.

Offset presses are quite a basic technology. Even if a specific press supplier goes bankrupt, it should not be such a bid deal to get metal parts replaced by machine shops or rollers covered, etc.

Digital technology in a way is disposable and not repairable. If a digital supplier decides that a whole market or a specific technology is not profitable, then they will drop it like a hot potato. Think about your own experience with digital products. They not only get obsolete with better technology but the old technology is not supported at some point. With digital technology one can get into a technology trap where there needs to be a continued upgrading of software and hardware from specific suppliers.

Suppliers are only your friends if they can get money out of you no matter what the technology is. :)

If printers are really poor, it is hard to see them supporting expensive technology indefinitely. I could see the high tech companies eventually getting tired of trying to make money in such a situation. They might just say, time for a restructuring of the business. Good bye printers. It seems like it has already started.

So true. And unfortunately with digital copiers/printers, whenever there's a really good solid machine that starts building up a good reputation, the manufacturer takes it away from us and replaces it with junk most of the time.
 

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