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Digital Printing: What are the Advantages and How Does it Differ from Offset Printing?

Digital printing and offset printing are two valid technologies used for reproducing an image in multiple copies. But what are the differences between these two types of printing? And what are the advantages offered by digital printing?

Let’s take a look together.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is undoubtedly the most recent printing technology. A digital file, present on a computer (or another electronic device), is sent to the printer which, once processed, will replicate the image directly onto the medium to be printed (paper, cardboard, plexiglass, etc.).

Depending on the printing technology, the image production phase can occur through inkjet printing, in the case of inkjet printers, through laser printing, in the case of laser printers, or through ultraviolet rays, in UV printers.

Offset Printing

Offset printing, unlike digital printing, is a less recent but more widespread technology. It has been used for over a century to print large quantities of copies (at least 500/1000) on different types of paper.

It is an indirect printing technology, as the image to be printed is first reproduced on a printing plate and then printed on paper through a mechanism of rollers and cylinders that distribute the ink and apply the pressure needed to print.

Differences between Digital Printing and Offset Technology

  • Offset printing has the significant disadvantage of the initial plate preparation, which entails a considerable cost. Digital printing, on the other hand, allows printing any type of document or image through a simple digital file. This will always make it possible to make changes and correct errors. An operation that is unthinkable with offset printing technology, since every correction would require the creation of a new printing plate. A digital printer, therefore, allows for making test prints to show to the customer and adjust them later.
  • Another substantial difference is in the number of copies to be produced. Offset printing is suitable for large print runs, which allows the plate costs to be amortized.
    Digital printing, on the other hand, being a direct printing technology, eliminates the cost of the plate and therefore does not impose a minimum print run. With digital printing, it is possible to print even a single file since the cost of a copy is identical to that of the hundredth or thousandth.
  • The two printing techniques differ in terms of different timing. If with digital printing, it is possible to print (even a single copy) in very short times, with offset technology, the waiting times are decidedly longer. This is since digital printing does not require any particular pre-press processing, while for offset printing, the preparation of the plant is mandatory and must necessarily take place in a dedicated photolithography department.
  • Another aspect to consider is certainly the print format. Using large-format sheets, offset technology was initially more suitable for printing large sizes compared to digital technology. With the evolution of digital techniques, today there are digital printers capable of producing large formats, without envy towards offset technology.

Colorzenith Digital Printing

For years, Colorzenith has been one of the most important points of reference in the digital printing landscape, with the possibility of printing large images without format limits and on a wide range of certified, fire-resistant, and self-extinguishing materials.

Discover all our printing options!