What is Digital Printing vs Offset Printing?

By PRI Graphics | Digital Printing

Apr 26
Photo of Control Panel for Printing Equipment

Often, we’re asked to explain digital vs offset printing pros and cons so we asked our PRI Graphics printing experts in Phoenix Arizona to explain the differences.

What is Digital Printing?

With digital printing, digital files are created on a computer using publishing software, photo software, or mapping software, and are then sent to the printer (over WiFi or Cat 5 cable) where the images, maps, or photos are transferred or printed onto paper. Both laser printers and inkjet printers can be referred to as digital printers.

Laser Printers

With digital laser printing, the laser printer charges the paper with electricity in the intricate shape of the photo, text, or map. Once the printer toner is released onto the paper, it only adheres where the paper has been charged, and the balance of unused toner is often expelled. A digital color laser printer can usually only utilize colors from the CMYK color palette. This limits their color output range, specifically where gradients or graduated fills are involved. However, digital laser printers are fast for anyone that needs a quick turnaround on digital laser printing!

Inkjet Printers

With digital Inkjet printing, the inkjet printer doesn’t require paper charging. Instead, ink is released from ink cartridges contained in the printer that sprays the picture, letters, or map images directly onto the paper or other mediums. Because color inkjet printers traditionally use the RGB color palette, their range of colors is much larger. However, digital inkjet printing is not as quick as laser printing. Inkjet printers offer more detail and the final printing more closely resembles photographs as a result of the inkjet printer’s color range. Since inkjet printers are much slower than digital laser printers, inkjet printers are not usually used for high volume printing projects.

What is Offset Printing?

Digital files are often created for use in offset printing as well, but these digital files are not transferred directly to the printer. Instead, the digital files are used to burn plates that are then attached to the offset printer. Inked images (of text or graphics) from the plate are transferred to a rubber blanket on the offset printing press, which in turn transfers the image directly onto whatever type of substrate is being used.

Offset printers come in a wide range of sizes and can print on a wide range of substrates. They are incredibly fast; much faster than either laser or inkjet digital printing, so offset printing is generally used for more extensive printing projects that encompass printing thousands or even millions of pages.

Have More Questions About Offset or Digital Printing?

For more information on what type of printing is right for your business and your upcoming printing project call our Arizona printers Toll Free at 877-409-8889 or email PRI Graphics.

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About the Author

The print professionals at PRI Graphics in Phoenix and Mesa Arizona regularly write about digital printing, large format printing, CAD printing, and other custom printing services. Contact us or check back often for new ideas on how our Phoenix printing company can help show off your business!