The two most common means of commercial print production in the industry today are offset and digital printing. While digital processes are becoming more highly preferred by printers and clients alike, conventional offset printing is the better option for unique, higher-quantity jobs.
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]lthough digital printing has taken center stage in recent years, there are times when conventional offset printing makes better sense. Often, a project’s specifications and the client’s needs will ultimately be the deciding factor for using conventional printing over the digital variety. Whether you’re an independent designer, or your company’s marketing decision maker, achieving the final results you desire comes down to comparing and contrasting the benefits of each of these printing processes.
The Advantages of Offset Printing
Despite the fast delivery and ease of modern digital printing, there are several reasons that conventional offset printing is more beneficial than digital. Offset printing technology continues to improve as well, meaning it has several advantages over other printing options:
- Image Quality. While digital printing produces consistent imaging, conventional offset printing offers even higher quality reproduction for high-resolution images.
- Material Versatility. Conventional offset printing works well on a wide variety of surfaces and paper sizes, with special colors and finishes available for you to choose from. This is especially important if your print job requires folding, cutting, binding, or stitching for booklets or catalogs.
- Cost-effectiveness. High volume projects that require print runs in the thousands will have a reduced cost per unit price tag. Once press setup and preparation is completed, conventional printing delivers discounts as the quantity that is needed increases.
Which Process Makes Sense for Your Project?
When evaluating whether a project will best lend itself to digital or offset printing, it’s important to understand how the printing process affects the final product. Digital printers are instructed by digital files produced by a computer housing your order specifications, with the ink laid directly onto the paper. In offset printing, ink is transferred from aluminum printing plates (produced specifically for each individual order) onto rubber rollers, which apply color in layers to create the images.
Weighing the importance of time, quality, quantity, and materials for each project by asking yourself certain questions will help you to decide which printing process is best suited for your job:
- How many pieces do you need? Since conventional printing comes with a front-end cost, due to press plate setup requirements, lower volume projects may have higher per piece costs unless you choose a digital press. The cost decreases as the volume increases with offset printing, so it is the less costly option for a higher quantity of prints.
- What materials would you like to use? If your design requires the use of special paper or other materials, better image quality is realized with conventional printing.
- What is the planned size of each print? Uniquely-sized pieces and special formats, whether larger or smaller than standard, indicate that offset printing is the best choice. Standard-sized paper forms sourced from in batches are easy to produce with digital printing.
- Do you want to proof your project? While digital output tends to involve accurate proofs available on a computer, text and color proofing can often be costly with conventional printing, again because of the prepress setup.
- How many colors does your project demand? Digital printers typically use four-color CMYK printing. Should you need only one or two colors, or more exact matches for special colors, you should choose offset printing, as one plate is made for each ink color and printed one at a time.
- When do you need your pieces? If you need your project printed quickly, digital is the way to go especially if you are utilizing variable data imaging in a direct mail piece, as the data can be retrieved simultaneously during the printing process. If you have sufficient lead time and you need a higher volume of prints, you can save money by choosing offset printing.
No matter the size, scale, or specifications of your order, Arkansas Graphics produces high-quality commercial printing for digital and traditional jobs alike. Request a job estimate for an Arkansas offset printing or digital printing project or contact Arkansas Graphics to learn more about conventional printing options. Call 501-376-8436 for personalized service from our representatives on the best option for your next print job.
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