When coordinating print projects, we are often asked to deliver faster timelines, competitive budgets, and all-the-while delivering the highest quality. Over the past 5 years the quantities for most print projects has decreased significantly. It is rare that I coordinate a print job that is more than 2500 pieces, not to mention a large-format brochure or intricate die-cut presentation brochure folder.
Digital printing has become widely popular to meet the demands of lower quantities, lower costs, and faster timelines. However, where does that leave quality? I strongly believe there is a place for digital printing, but traditional offset printing still provides the highest quality.
Incredibly fast! If you are working within a tight deadline and just have to get it done, digital printing could be your best option.
Less Expensive. If you have a low quantity (less than 1000 pieces), digital printing is far more cost effective than traditional offset printing.
Greater Flexibility. Allows for frequent changes to your printed material if needed.
The Printer Proof is your Final Piece. In most cases, the printer proof you receive for approval can be output on your requested paper stock on the digital press your entire job will be printed on. So what you hold in your hands will be exactly recreated in the final print run.
Unable to Color Match. Despite digital printing constantly improving, they still can’t match the color quality of traditional offset printer. Digital printers use a four color process while traditional offset printers use the PMS and inks to deliver color accuracy.
Cracking in the Folds. Digital printer inks aren’t fully absorbed into the paper which means that cracks can appear in the color along the edges when the piece is folded. This typically isn’t a problem in traditional offset printing.
Fewer Material Options. Digital printing presses are quickly catching up to offset presses in terms of what they can and can’t print on, but they’re not there yet. Traditional offset presses still offer a wider range of paper, ink and finish options.
More expensive in higher quantity print runs. While you may need a project fast, if you have a higher quantity (more than 2500 pieces), traditional offset pricing normally becomes more cost effective.
In summary, traditional offset printing is great for printing commercial quantities, as well as jobs that require exact color matches and printing on different materials. Digital printing, however, is ideal for low quantity jobs that need to be printed quickly and are easy to customize and revise.