Digital print vs Offset Printing

Many people think that printing is just sending a file to the printer and getting a hard copy. However, there are more complex techniques, such as offset printing and digital print, which use different equipment and processes to produce high-quality, personalised prints.

Understanding how the different printing methods work is essential so that you know how to choose the best technique for each of your projects, considering factors such as the number of prints, budget and desired finish.

In this article, we will look at two of the most popular techniques – digital print and offset printing – and analyse their differences, advantages and disadvantages, to help you choose the best technique to use for your projects.

What is Digital print?

The digital print method is a printing technique that uses digital technology to produce images printed directly onto a substrate, such as paper, plastic, fabric, glass and other materials. It is a non-contact process, where the image is created digitally and transferred directly to the substrate, without the need for a plate to make contact.

This method involves the use of a digital printer, which uses inkjet or toner technology to print the image directly onto the substrate. The image is created digitally on a computer and sent to the digital printer, which converts it into a printed image. For smaller materials, any type of smaller printer will do the job, if you need something larger you should look for a print shop near you.

Digital print offers some advantages over other methods, such as offset printing. It allows small quantities of printed materials to be produced quickly and at a reasonable cost, without the need for printing plate preparation. In addition, digital print offers greater flexibility in terms of customising printed materials, allowing different images and information to be printed on each item.

Watch in the video below, how it works in practice:

Advantages of Digital print

Customization and Speed: this allows you to print personalized documents, such as invitations, business cards and gifts, quickly and easily.

Low production cost: since it does not require major preparations, costs are lower compared to offset printing.

Production speed: the preparation time is reduced, allowing the production of small quantities in a short time.

Definition and Resolution: it has excellent quality, is very similar to reality and with great colour saturation.

What is Offset Printing?

In offset printing, the image is transferred from a plate to a rubber roller and then onto paper. It is one of the most common techniques and is used by printers on a wide range of printed materials, including books, magazines, pamphlets, business cards and much more. During the process, ink is applied to the plate and then transferred to the rubber roller. The rubber roller then transfers the ink onto the paper, creating the final printed image. As the paper does not come into direct contact with the plate, it gives a more accurate and uniform result.

Offset printing is widely used in printers all over the world because of its high print quality, efficiency and versatility. It is generally used to print on a variety of paper formats and sizes.

Offset Printing – step by step

After a brief explanation of what offset printing is, we will go into more detail about this technique and its process.

Pre-Print: in this step, the design is created in graphic editing software, such as Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. It is important that the file is in high resolution and has the correct size for the desired print. Next, proofs are created so that the designer can check the image quality, colours and layout before proceeding with the printing. The proofs are created on paper similar to that which will be used in the final print.

Printing plates: with the design finalised and approved, a printing plate is created for each colour that will be used in the printing. The plates are made of aluminium or photosensitive material and are engraved with images and text. This engraving is done through a process of photolithography, which involves exposing a photosensitive emulsion to ultraviolet light and engraving the areas where the light has reached the plate. Each plate is engraved separately for each colour that will be used.

Plate mounting: the plates are mounted on the offset printer and adjusted to ensure that the print comes out sharp and accurate. Each plate must be correctly aligned so that the printing is accurately registered.

Printing: with the plates properly assembled and adjusted, printing begins. The plates first pass through a water system that makes them damp so that the ink does not remain on the white parts. The ink is then only applied to the parts that have images or text and is transferred to an intermediate cylinder, known as the blanket cylinder. The blanket cylinder is responsible for transferring the ink onto the paper, creating the final print. The process is repeated for each colour that will be used, as mentioned above.

Finishing: after printing, the paper is cut to the desired size and shape, and may undergo additional processes, such as folding, lamination, and varnishing, among others, depending on the purpose and objective of the project.

Watch in the video below, how it works in practice:

This process is quite complex and precise, it requires specialized equipment and technical skills. Each step must be carried out correctly to ensure high-quality printing. Therefore, it is recommended to work with an experienced and qualified printer to ensure that the process is carried out successfully. The printer should be able to explain every detail of the process and advise you.

Advantages of Offset Printing

Quality: produces high-quality prints, with sharp colours and precise details.

Great variety of colours: uses special colours, such as Pantone, thus obtaining a great variety of colours.

High-quality finishing: allows the use of different types of paper, weights and finishes, such as varnishing, lamination and embossing, to create high-quality, personalised prints.

Durability: as in this technique the ink penetrates the material, these prints can last for decades if properly stored and protected from direct sunlight and humidity.

Which printing method is the best for you?

Both digital and offset printing are popular techniques and are suitable for different needs.

Choosing the right method for your projects depends on your characteristics, such as the number of prints, the desired paper type and finish, the available budget and the time available to produce the prints.

If you are looking to produce small quantities of personalised prints, with a low production cost and speed, a digital print may be the best option for you.

On the other hand, if you are looking to produce large quantities of high-quality prints, with a wide variety of colours and customised finishes, offset printing may be the best option, although it involves higher production costs and a longer production time.

Regardless of the technique chosen, it is important to choose a reliable printing company with proven experience, to ensure quality and satisfaction with the final result of your prints. Here. n’oseubackoffice we have graphic production services that include digital print, vinyl cutting and the production of stationary.