Difference Between Offset Printing and Digital Printing


Main Difference

Is Printing is just printing? That is not exactly right. There are distinction between printing technologies. You must have heard about two popular printing technologies, “offset printing” and “digital printing”. There are multiple factors such as cost, method, quality, quantities, color scheme, technology uses, etc. that creates differences between offset printing and digital printing.

What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is the more traditional way of printing that was introduced in 1875 by Robert Barclay. It is similar to earlier printing method “lithography”. It is a technique in which printing is performed without actually transferring ink on paper. Inked image is transferred from a plate, usually made of aluminum, onto a rubber blanket then rolling that image to the printing surface. Offset printing is a best choice for printing large quantity of high quality, with greater detail and color scheme, and cost effective papers. By using A4 size paper, 1000 copies can be acquired by a filled cartridge.


What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is a latest technology of printing digital based images from variety of media. Digital printing cost is higher than other traditional printing methods. There is no concept of plates or any other technical steps requirement in digital printing. Inkjet and laser printers are common methods of digital printing. Modification can be made easily in digital printing. For example if you need some alteration on the same assignment than digital printing provide the same continuously without any interruption or providing instructions manually. Price is high but still the best method for getting high quality results.

Key Differences

  1. Offset printing is cheaper than digital printing as digital printing requires more inkjet for work.
  2. Offset printing used aluminum plates for printing while there are no concept of plates or other old technical formalities in digital printing.
  3. Offset printing provides high quality images than digital printing. In offset printing you can print continuously without losing the quality and color. In digital printing every next printing result will be lower than previous printing. In short, achieving high quality by continuously printing is not possible in digital printing.
  4. Diversification and variety is not possible in offset printing. One project can be complete at a time. In digital printing you can feed different name, address, etc. for assignments and all will be printed continuously without giving the instructions again and again.
  5. Digital printing is a best option for large posters, banners and tradeshow displays while offset printing is a best option for pocket folders, 6+ panel brochures, etc.
  6. Setup time is complex in offset printing like adjust the plates and other parts before printing. No setup time is required is digital printing.
Harlon Moss

Harlon currently works as a quality moderator and content writer for Difference Wiki. He graduated from the University of California in 2010 with a degree in Computer Science. Follow him on Twitter @HarlonMoss