Digital or Offset?

Which Printing Technology Will Best Serve Your Needs?

How to determine how many to print

Digital printing or offset printing produces the majority of printed products. Digital printing has a low fixed set-up cost and a high per unit cost. Offset printing has a high fixed set-up cost and a low per unit cost. Yes, this is the simple answer and there are a wide range of what-if’s but let’s keep it simple at this point.

Short print runs result in lower total initial costs, lower levels of obsolescence costs, lower inventory, and warehousing costs. Digital printing is ideal.

Longer print runs result in lower per unit costs. Offset printing is ideal.

Which way to go is often determined by type of paper desired, size of piece, number and type of ink colors used, and desired finishing operations. A ballpark estimate from your printer will give you a starting point to prepare the written specifications. Estimating up to three quantities for a single set of specifications is easy to do and will help you to determine your print run.

Single page documents

Black-only Digital - up to 5,000
4-color Digital - up to 1000
1 to 6-color Offset Litho - over 1000

One color (black) single-page documents, up to runs of 5,000, can print on a one-color digital press.

Projects that print in a Pantone color require a printing plate and printing on an offset press. This process is more expensive than digital printing. Projects that have a flat size larger than 12 x 18 or quantities greater than 5,000 require printing on an offset press.

Multiple page documents

Black-only Digital - up to 1,100
4-color Digital - up to 1000
1-6-color Offset Litho - over 1000

One-color, multi-page documents:

Less than 1,100 copies print on the one-color digital press providing the booklet requires black ink only.

Over 1,100 copies and booklets that print in a Pantone color require printing on an offset press.

Four-color process, multi-page documents:

Less than 500 copies print on the 4-color digital press. Over 500 copies print on an offset press.



See also:

Lithographic and Digital Printing

Printing

Print from your Uploaded PDF

Design Online