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Offset Printing vs. Digital Printing

You've heard of both types of printing, but what's the real difference?

What is offset printing?

Offset printing uses etched metal plates to transfer ink onto paper. Every print job requires a new set of plates, and there must be one plate for every color used. Long story short: it takes a lot of work to prepare a printing press for each print job and you'll pay for it in set-up fees.


• Cost effective for very large print jobs

• Special custom inks are available (metallics, fluorescents, etc.)

• Very accurate Pantone color matching

• Can often print on larger sheets of paper

What is digital printing?

Digital printers don't need etched plates or custom inks. Instead they use an electrostatic charge to fuse powder-like toner onto paper. The digital color process is similar to offset printing, as there are four tone drums - one for each color. The process is quite simple and does not require nearly as much set-up time and effort.


• Cost effective for smaller print jobs

• Quick turnaround times

• Printed proofs are available in a matter of minutes, not days

• Easy to print variable jobs (numbers tickets, NCR forms, etc.)


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