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.)