Digital Printing Vs. Offset Printing (when to use)

Digital Printing Vs. Offset Printing (when to use)


Every design and print project is different and there are many factors and considerations to be evaluated before deciding on which commercial printing process to choose. The two mainstream printing options are digital and offset and each of them command different capabilities that deliver fantastic results, depending on the requirements of the job. As a result, making an informed and correct decision as to which process to choose can be ambiguous and the wrong decision will cost you. To solve that problem, consider the following.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is incredibly fast, allowing for on demand printing with short turnaround times. These capabilities make it an ideal solution for jobs with a tight deadline. While digital printing has a higher cost per page than the more traditional printing methods, the cost is offset by avoiding the technical and labour intensive steps required for plate production in offset printing. Eliminating this time intensive process is what allows digital printing to meet tight turnaround times. This also makes it ideal for jobs that require accuracy of proofing as extremely detailed samples or prototypes can be made quickly, allowing for comparison and assisting your decision as to which sample should be recreated.

Another advantage of digital print over offset print is the ability to have variable data imaging and personalisation. These allow for more relational marketing messages which can be very powerful for conversion rates.

Offset Printing

Offset printing supersedes digital printing when it comes to producing larger print runs, over several thousand sheets at a lower price. It’s best suited for economically producing high quality prints in a manner that requires little maintenance. As the project manager, you need to consider how important overall quality is to the outcome of your project. If your project relies on outstanding image quality and requires a wider choice when it comes to unusual paper types and sizes, specialised inks and finishes, then offset printing will serve you best. The advantage of having complete control over colour accuracy, ink volumes and paper types and sizes is that you will be completely satisfied with the end result.

Ideally, to gain the full benefits of offset printing, your design project will require high volumes at premium quality and won’t be restricted by time constraints. The higher the volume the more the cost per unit decreases. Also, once the printing plates and general setup is complete it’s very easy and cost effective to increase the number of prints required.

Below is a guide to help you make your decision.


– Offset: Best suited and most cost effective for medium to larger runs

– Digital: Best suited and most cost effective for smaller runs


– Offset: Offset printing allows you to hit exact PMS tones and has more consistent solid screen colours

– Digital: Digital printing can achieve the same vibrant colours and high contrast as offset printing

Turn Time:

– Offset: 1-3 days. Offset printing uses inks that require drying time. However, offset is faster for large runs because it can produce multiple pieces at a high speed.

– Digital: Instantaneously. Requires no drying time so each piece is ready to go as soon as it comes off the press.

Stock selection:

– Offset: Nearly all stocks. Offset presses can print on most stocks including magnets, heavy cover stocks, stickers, translucent stocks and more.

– Digital: Varies depending on digital press. Typically, digital presses can easily run all text stocks and cover stocks.


– Offset: Limited. Your best bet is to create a shell that can later be personalised on a laser or ink jet.

– Digital: Unlimited. Digital presses can create completely variable pieces in-line perfect for variations of POS material for different store types and locations.

Get in touch with Cyplex today and find out how we can help you make the most out of your digital printing projects.