When to Use Offset Printing

Wide format printing

When you’re looking at commercial printing options, two basic methods are likely to come up: digital and offset printing. In case you’re not familiar with these two types, the essential difference is that while digital printing works by creating a project from a computer file the way your home or office printer does, offset printing is an old-fashioned process wherein the printers create special plates and rubber rollers called “blankets” to layer different colors of ink onto paper or another substrate (that’s the printing term for whatever is being printed on — offset printing can be used on specialty papers, plastic, cloth, wood, metal or even leather).

Digital printing has gotten quite a bit of attention lately, and rightfully so. It’s the most affordable way to customize pieces, it can be done with very little setup time, and it’s often offered without a minimum quantity requirement. But there are times when good old offset printing is still the best choice. Here are some reasons you might consider it:

  1. If You Need High Quantities Printed

    Price is, of course, a primary factor when it comes to choosing any sort of printing services. When it comes to offset methods, the downside is that you’ll probably pay a setup fee for plate and blanket design and creation. But after that is completed, offset offers a lower price per piece than digital printing does. That means when you’re getting high quantities printed, offset may actually be the more affordable choice.

  2. If You Think You’ll Need Another Run

    The good thing about having plates and blankets created is that they can be stored for future use. So if you need 500 copies printed now but think you’ll want another thousand in a few months, those plates will be ready and waiting.

  3. If You’re Planning a Wide-Format Project

    Wide-format printing methods tend to be combined with both digital and offset techniques, so this isn’t a hard-and-fast rule. But most generally, you’ll be able to get more wide-format options when you’re working with an offset printer; if you’re working in feet and not inches, offset is a better bet.

  4. If You Need the Final Product to be Perfect

    Digital printing methods have improved vastly in recent years to the point that some can rival the quality of offset presses. But offset methods still produce the best results, especially when it comes to image quality and color matching. If you’re working on a detail-oriented project where the exact shade matters, offset is the way to go.

What else might make offset printing better than digital in some cases? Discuss in the comments.


About: Ed