Digital vs Offset Image

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For most, the difference between digital printing and offset printing is as clear as mud. Let us take you through a few key differences that may help you choose your next printer and what you may want to take into consideration.

Offset Printing

What is Offset? Offset printing is generally used for larger printing projects due to the set up costs involved. It uses large metal plates to transfer images to rubber sheets or “blankets”. These sheets then transfer the image on to the paper via a rolling method; think a roller stamp, only much larger.

Digital Printing

On the other hand, you have digital printing. This method is great for most people who are looking for small quantities of printed material, or products where variable data; such as numbering, barcodes or addresses are needed. Digital printing uses a different method from offset, where the ink or toner is applied directly to the paper and does not use a printing plate or rubber sheet.

What’s best for me?

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s go over some positives and negatives of the two:

Offset Pros:

  • Best price for large quantities 
  • Achieves a higher quality finish than most digital printing

Offset Cons:

  • Large initial set-up cost
  • Hard to make last minute changes
  • Uses a lot more paper to set-up a run which could affect your Environmental Policies

Digital Pros:

  • Best price for small runs
  • Allows artwork to be changed quickly if needed
  • Much quicker to start a project
  • Allows the use of variable data

Digital Cons:

  • More expensive in larger runs
  • May produce a slightly inferior quality to Offset


When taking on a printing project for yourself, or your business, ask yourself some simple questions before you choose a printer e.g. What quantity do I need? When do I need these by? Is my artwork variable or likely to change at the last minute? These simple questions can save you a lot of hassle and cost down the road.

We hope this leaves you with some useful considerations when organising your next printing project. For any enquiries or questions regarding your next printing project please contact us.

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