Many outside the print industry are often confused at the difference between digital and offset printing and which is best for their individual needs. The truth is that to some degree both have a role to play in satisfying client requirements. However, digital, the print industry’s latest kid on the block, offers enhanced flexibility which just can’t be met by traditional offset methods.
The versatility of print has led us at ELAN Print to invest heavily in cutting edge, digital printing and plotting equipment that can deliver high resolution printing up to 1400 dpi for today’s modern branding needs from vehicle and venue branding to POS materials, glass and wall stickers and 3D printing.
Before a decision on which method to opt for is taken, it is imperative to work out several guiding prerequisites – budget, print run sizes and deadlines among them.
The case for digital:
Digital is today’s go-to flexible technology which can be used for large or wide format and custom artworks without the need to produce or change plates for every individual piece of artworks which makes it fast and highly cost-effective. Because of its ability to produce to large, wide, or even extra-large, formats, it can meet a whole host of modern-day print needs including wall and floor branding, venue branding and major retail or brand displays. Today’s super advanced digital print machines can produce media up to five metres wide so it’s great for advertising posters, vinyl banners, fabrics etc.
The beauty of digital print is that it is custom made and directly printed from electronic computer files making it much quicker, with no plate production required, and much more cost-effective.
Digital is also ideal for short print runs anything in fact where the print run is less that around 500. With digital you can print only as specific amount when you want it. It’s also great for jobs that require a level of personalisation when the data might need to be changed, as with a graduated advertising campaign.
With digital you can reproduce the most detailed and elaborate full colour designs with no screen making or set up costs and achieve full wash fastness across a range of print host materials. You can also have a print sample to scrutinise.
Rely on digital for jobs requiring large or wide format prints, small print runs and quick turnarounds particularly those that call for a change of information within the same piece.
Another major plus of digital is its environmental wins including less paper use than traditional printing which can by 10% or more, less material wastage, the use of eco-friendly water-based inks and fewer toxic chemicals, and its ability to service eco-friendly textiles and fabrics.
The case for Offset:
Offset printing is generally the choice for large production volumes of the final approved jobs. This is because a design template in raw, pre-moulded plates, of one metre wide or less, needs to be produced for offset printing, on a printing press, and produced in multiple layers. All this takes considerable time, and the final product must be allowed to dry before finishing can take place, so the more the print run, the more cost-effect offset is. It is, however, time consuming.
If you are going for offset you have to understand that it is vital you have decided on your final content because plates can’t be changed once production starts, which means if any changes are needed, the job begins again and the cost, and delivery times expand accordingly.
Offset printing is credited with producing the highest quality possible and the tightest control over colour though digital is catching up fast. Offset therefore is usually the ‘go-to’ choice for long print runs of magazines, books, manuals, brochures, direct mail, letterheads, posters, and paper-based labels.
The Decisive Factors:
A good way to assess which type of print is good for you is to use the following questions as a guide:
A. How big a print run do I need?
If your project is over 500 pieces Offset can be more cost effective.
B. Is this a rush job?
If you are pressed for time, digital is the answer.
C. Do I need to customise the messaging?
Digital will do the job
D. Do I need to see a sample proof?
Digital has the advantage.
These are just the basic questions, your particular job may have other requirements, such as special material, wraparounds etc and our ELAN Print experts will be ready to offer all advice and you can contact them via our website at: www.elanprint.qa.