The 4 Factors That Determine Whether You Should Use Digital or Offset Printing


When small businesses first start working with commercial printing companies, some of the most commonly asked questions are about digital and offset printing. The basic difference between digital and offset printing is that in digital printing, the print is created directly from a digital file (the way your regular home or office printer works, though on a larger scale). Offset printing, on the other hand, requires the creation of custom plates for each individual project.

Both types of printing offer their own advantages, so you’ll want to choose your printing method based on the details of each printing project. Here are the questions you should ask yourself when deciding:

  1. How Many Do I Need?

    Digital printing can often be more affordable for small runs. So if you only need a few of something, digital printing is probably the best bet. Offset printing, on the other hand, normally has a higher setup fee and larger minimum run. The advantage is that once set up, offset printing has a lower price per unit. So if you need a thousand printed, you may get a better price using the offset method.

  2. Should They All Be Identical?

    Because digital printing is controlled by digital files, it’s by far the best method for customizing pieces, or for printing pieces that have unique details (such as direct mail pieces).

  3. How Important Is the Color?

    Offset printing offers greater control over shade and more precise color matching than most digital printing processes. This isn’t important for many projects, but offset printing is the way to go if it’s important to have vibrant colors that match other materials exactly.

  4. Will I Ever Need to Print More?

    Think about whether you’ll ever need to print more of this particular project. Digital printing will probably require set up each and every time, whereas the plates created for offset printing can be stored and used again in the future.

Do you have any more advice on choosing between digital and offset printing for various types of projects?

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