Consider this. You are organising a launch event for your business in two days and you need to have around 200 business cards, corporate catalogues, newsletters and customized corporate stationery paper ready to be distributed in a kit on the day to potential clients, mediapersons and other guests at the event. However, you only have two days and a limited budget to get all of these printed and ready.
Are you considering your printing options? Not sure whether to go the offset or the digital route?
The above scenario highlights practically every reason why digital printing could save your day. It is one of the most-preferred types of printing these days, and for good reasons. Its quick turnaround time, cheap low-volume printing costs, the option of customization through Variable Data Printing and a number of other features make it a popular option among individuals and businesses.
WEIGHING YOUR PRINTING OPTIONS:
OFFSET VS. DIGITAL
While trying to select a printing option, try to pick one based on your estimated set of requirements for the job. For instance, even though offset printing is the more traditional choice, it probably wouldn’t be the best option for your business if it required low-volume printing as it entails heavy costs.
Offset printers operate on the principle that ‘ink and water don’t mix’; in line with this, words and images are placed on metal plates, which are then dampened by water followed by ink. These words and images then transfer to a rubber blanket, which in turn transfers these onto paper. You might notice that a lot of time and money need to be invested into offset printing, as a result; customization of printed material also wouldn’t be an option due to high per unit costs. It might be preferable if you are looking at a high-volume print job. Although offset printing is still widely used, digital printing is steadily growing too as more people and businesses are digitizing their work.
Digital printing, on the other hand, provides more control over the content of what is being printed in that you can edit the text, images or their placement before they are printed. Customization is, therefore, one of the foremost advantages of digital printing. Material is printed on using laserjet or inkjet printers, which are available easily. All that needs to be updated or replaced are ink cartridges versus the metal plates in offset printing. This takes the tedium and costs of replacing plates or other equipment from the printer out of the equation.
Digital is preferred by people in professions, which require quick turnaround of work; one of these areas is publishing. With the increasing use in desktop publishing software the world over, digital printing offers users the option of producing more work faster.
Although digital printing has its advantages, it has its fair share of cons as well. Let’s look at why you and your business should choose digital printing over any other type of printing.
- Digital printing can help you print on a host of surfaces – paper, canvas, glass, marble, metal, ceramic and others, so you can print on items such as coffee mugs, key chains, CD or DVD cases, display banners, personalized gifts as well as use different techniques such as die-cutting, foiling and embossing.
- The ink on digitally-printed items dries fairly quickly, so unlike offset printing, you don’t have to wait around for it to dry before you can use the printed items.
- If you are looking to print 500 copies or less of items, digital printing will be the perfect choice for you as it is a low-cost option and quite budget-friendly at that.
- With options such as web-to-print automation, variable data printing and versioning available, you get pages of higher value. Every print you make can be customized, so errors can be corrected in case there are any.
- Digital printing is quite the no-frills option; steps such as creating ink rollers for plates or special films for the printing process. Digital printers are usually of the inkjet or laserjet variety so they print quite fast.
- As printing digitally has relatively shorter turnaround times, you can decide to print even one day before you require the printed products.
- A balance between water and ink is maintained in digital printing, which helps maintain uniformity between prints great so there is more accuracy, less waste and fewer variations.
In all, digital printing is a fabulous option especially because it makes your work that much faster and easier. In order to decide whether this is the route you want to take, you might also want to learn about the limitations of digital printing, even though its advantages far outweigh these.
- Offset printing produces far better quality as the ink in digital prints does not get completely absorbed into the stock. Hence, cracks in the ink when printed material is folded, scored or handled are likely.
- If you’re looking to print very large quantities, digital printing wouldn’t be the option you pick as per unit costs could be very high.
Picking a printing method boils down to what you are interested in printing and how much of it as well as your constraints such as budget. Ultimately, you might choose one or the other based on their benefits to you. Use the aforementioned points as a guide but always enquire with your local print agency to learn specifically about the options they offer.