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What Kind of Printing Is Right for You
Feb 01, 2018

 Integrated Printing Solutions: What Kind of Printing Is Right for You?

When you have print projects to deliver, you need to consider a variety of factors to determine the fast way of delivering the best product. You want to offer competitive budgets, high quality, and a fast quality – all qualities that you’ll find when you order with us.

The number of integrated printing solutions you can consider are great but there are only two major ways that people print in today’s publishing world: traditional and digital. There are reasons to use both of these integrated printing solutions and both have their advantages and disadvantages. To determine which one is right for your needs, you need to know what exactly both are and how they are used.

Offset Printing Vs. Digital Printing

Digital printing is continuously growing in popularity in today’s publishing and marketing circles. It brings more options, new features, and many technological advancements to printing material commercially. It isn’t as simple and straightforward as it may seem. Digital printing has also brought confusion to many but the way it eliminates many steps that are required when using traditional printing makes it appealing to many.

Its popularity immediately draws people to make comparisons to printing’s most commonly used method: offset lithography. Offset printing, often just called traditional printing, allows for high volumes of text to be printed. It’s the way that authors have been getting their books published for years and years. The quantity is appealing but it does have drawbacks for some authors and for individuals who want to print what would be considered unconventional.

So, many wonder which one of these integrated printing solutions is better. The answer is simple: it depends.

Offset Printing

Traditional printing is based on the simple technology of plates. These plates are constructed of aluminum, which transfers a specific image onto a “blanket” made of rubber. Once pressed into the rubber, the blanket is then rolled over a blank sheet of paper. The term “offset” is used due to the fact that the ink isn’t directly put onto the paper. Many consider offset printing the best solution for those who are looking for printing in large quantities. The process is also considered superior to other methods because it provides clean, crisp professional-looking printing with accurate color reproduction.

Pros

  • When you do offset printing, you know for a fact that you’re getting high image quality.

  • It’s versatile. You don’t have to limit yourself to just paper. You can print on plastic, rough paper, leather, cloth, and wood.

  • If you have a large quantity to order, then the unit cost is cheaper.

  • You can expect the quality to remain consistent even with high-volume orders.

Cons

  • You can expect a high turnover time due to the complicated setup.

  • Getting proofing and edits can turn into a costly nightmare.

  • The chemicals used and the amount of paper that is gone through negatively impact the environment.

 Digital Printing 

On the hand, you have digital printing. Digital printing utilizes large printers that have liquid ink or laser printers that use toner instead of the plates that you set up for traditional printing. Digital printing’s popularity is due to the quality it gives you with lower quantity orders and integrates well with API printing.

Newer authors and industry professionals tend to choose digital printing when they fear or know they won’t sell many copies. If they went to a publisher that uses traditional printing it would make more sense for them to order thousands of copies of their book. The copies that they don’t sell end up collecting dust and you’ve wasted potential return investment. Digital printing allows authors to order a specific amount. If that amount sells, then it’s easy to order more with digital printing.

Pros

  • The setup is easy which means you can expect a shorter turnaround then you would with offset printing.

  • The process is simpler. You have fewer variations and less waste as you don’t have to worry about balancing the water and ink during the press run.

  • It’s cheaper per unit costs. When you include setup costs, digital printing provides costs that are lower per unit in print runs that are small.

  • For those in marketing, digital printing can be utilized in Variable Data Printing. Variable Data Printing is another part of integrated printing solutions that provides clients with customizable digital printing. You use information from an external file, graphics, text, or database and easily change it on each print without having to slow down or stop the press run.

Cons

  • Digital printing is still developing but it hasn’t yet been able to print on a wide range of material like offset printing can.

  • For those looking for higher quantity print runs, you can expect it to be more expensive.

Things to Consider When Choosing a Printing Process

Quantity. The biggest factor you need to consider when considering which printing to use is the amount you need printed. Digital printing is ideal for those looking for short press runs. Those looking for larger quantities should go with offset printing as the unit cost goes down as your quantities increase.

Printing medium. If you’re looking to print on a special material or an unusual surface or with a unique finish, then you’ll want to go with traditional printing. In the future, digital printing could be a viable option for this, but digital presses have not yet caught up with offset.

Color. Each of these integrated printing solutions has its advantages with color. For those looking for just one or two colors, offset printing is the way to go. If you’re looking for four-color printing, then digital has more of an advantage and has lower costs upfront.

For those looking for color matching, digital printing will give you a less accurate match. Traditional printing uses actual Pantone ink which will give you the highest quality matching.

Turnaround. If you need your order quickly, digital can’t be beaten.

Proofing. Digital printing allows you to see a sample of your printed piece which gives you more accurate proofs.

Versatility. Offset printing is great for printing large quantities of books or newspapers but is not the best option for those not in those industries. Digital printing can be used to help marketing techniques and appeals to the general public for small, personal products.

The Bottom Line

Digital and offset printing are both effective and useful integrated printing solutions. Each method has its own benefits and the one you should choose depends on your project requirements. Depending on the industry you need printing services for, you may find you need to utilize both. To determine which one is best for your next project, examine the project and evaluate the results you expect from the press run.