Offset Printing, Business
I had recently encouraged a Printer friend of mine to consider adding digital print service to the bouquet of print services they offer their customers by investing in the Digital printing business because of the potential growth the technology has to offer any serious Printing firm, but my friend begged to differ and argued otherwise. This write up was not intended to make a business case for Digital Print machine distributors (though it looks like where this is heading) but to debunk unverified assumptions and arguments that are not backed up with veritable facts. Assumption is the lowest form of knowledge and any serious business would not formulate their policy on assumptions but on verified and researched data.
Now to the question: Is offset printing better than digital printing? It is a question many have asked before, and the answer is not as clear and straight-forward as you might think. The answer, of course, is “yes and no.” For the past two decades, a great deal of debate in the print world has focused on the relative merits of its two principal technologies – offset printing and digital printing. Who is the ultimate winner in a comparison of a digital press versus offset press?”
Let’s explore the differences between offset printing and digital printing to see which is better. We would explain these under the following sub headings:
BRIEF HISTORY OF BOTH PRINTING METHODS
Offset printing has been around for more than a century and for decades it was the best way to print just about everything commercial: newspapers, magazines, booklets, advertisements, postcards, brochures and more. It is a commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket which then rolls the ink onto paper, vinyl or other plain surface. When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs a flat (planographic) image carrier on which the image to be printed obtains ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a water-based film (called "fountain solution"), keeping the non-printing areas ink-free. This is in contrast to Digital printing, which does not use plates to transfer ink to paper.
Digital printing eliminates the numerous mechanical steps required for offset printing process, including making films and color proofs and making plates for ink rollers. It refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. Most digital presses today apply ink in a single pass from a single ink head, similar to common inkjet printers found in homes and offices. Small-run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources are printed using high-volume laser or inkjet printers. Commercial digital presses where developed around 1993.
Offset printing produces the best image quality in all forms of printing. The resolutions are higher with no streaks or spots. It also has the ability to produce gradients, vibrant colours, solids, metallic, spot and pantone colours. If your printing job involves special colours it is advisable to use Offset printing method. Many modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems as opposed to the older computer-to-film work flow, further increasing quality. However quality consistency can only be achieved when the press is running smoothly after make ready. Sometimes it takes printing a few hundred sheets to achieve this result.