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Offset vs Digital Printing: Why Everyone is Shifting in 2022

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Offset printing is a technology that has served the printing industry for decades and will always have a role to play for certain print jobs. But as digital print technology has closed the gap in quality between offset and digital printing, print shops everywhere are migrating to new digital tools.

As I am sure you are aware, today’s printing customers demand more short run jobs done quickly, including one-off prototypes and samples. These are the types of jobs digital presses excel at making. Today, let’s look at the role of offset printing and traditional inks and the evolution of digital printing technology. As you will see, the inevitable shift to digital printing is an ongoing trend which will continue for 2022.

What is Offset Printing?

Traditional offset printing is done on a press using printing plates and wet ink. This type of printing involves more preparation and setup time, and the final product must dry before finishing can be done. However, offset printing traditionally produces the highest quality available on the widest variety of paper stocks. In general, it is most economical for very large scale printing operations.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing means output directly from electronic files and is flexible enough to produce short run print jobs. Although digital printing works well on most stocks today, there are still some papers and jobs where offset printing works better. But with recent advances in technology and color management software, the quality level of digital printing is now extremely close to offset printing.

Moving away from traditional offset printing also means less mess and fuss- digital presses don’t use toxic chemicals, making sprint shops more eco-friendly and safer.

Here are some of the biggest advantages of utilizing digital printing:

Faster turnaround times. Your customers expect to send a print file and get a full-color printing flawlessly executed and finished quickly. With less set-up process and calibration, a digital press can meet those demands much more cost effectively.

Use variable data. Not only is digital faster, but more customers expect variable data, which makes each piece personalized for better engagement with their recipients. Variable data means names, mailing addresses, personalized data and targeted messages – something that is not possible with offset printing.

New inkjet printing processes. New inkjet technology can print on traditional offset stocks with dull, silk, and glossy finishes. High-quality digital presses coupled with software-managed color management tools can be as dependable or better than offset printing. Don’t believe me? Check out my blog post on Production Printing Technology that Wins New Customers.

Friendly to the Environment. Digital presses use the exact amounts of ink and toner needed and biodegradable inks and toners are available for more sustainable printing. Digital print also removes the need to wash plates with harmful chemicals at the end of the printing process.

Offset printing will always have a place in the printing world. It is best suited for large print run and can match exact color tones. But because the ink can take an extended time to dry, it is slower and more expensive, and involves more chemicals.

As competition becomes increasingly fierce in the world of printing, digital printing is the only solution for print facilities that need to manage all sizes of print runs while producing vibrant colors and contrasts. Because it dries instantly and offers unlimited personalization (even creating variable pieces in-line!) a digital print shop can offer faster and more effective work for clients.

If you are investigating new digital printing technology, GFC would love to help. We can also help with Wide Format solutions for sign and display graphics and printing and cutting solutions for short-run packaging to help your print business remain competitive. To learn more, contact the experts at the Gordon Flesch Company. We are focused on Production Print solutions for commercial printers, and our analysts are ready to help.

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