The growth of digital printing technology has brought technical advancements, more options, and exciting new features to today’s commercial printing. It's also brought some confusion. An understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of digital printing and how those compare to traditional offset lithography is critical in making the right choice.
Offset printing is most commonly used for commercial printing. We offer custom Pantone® spot-color printing when only one, two or three colors are needed and when a color has to match perfectly such as a corporate logo. Spot color inks are simply custom mixed, colored inks used in offset printing.
The Pantone Matching System (PMS) consists of over 1,000 colors, including specialty inks such as metallic, pastel and fluorescent. There are different brands of spot color inks. In the United States, the dominant spot color printing system is PANTONE. Other spot color systems include TOYO, DIC, Van Son, Superior and ANPA.
To ensure that a printer uses the exact color that the designer intends, the Pantone Matching System (PMS) is used. Each PMS number references a unique color found in swatch books and charts. By using this type of numbering system, people can convey the exact colors for a printed piece to each other without actually looking at the same samples.
Remember, what you see on the screen is simply a simulation of the printed color. To insure the most accurate color, you should use your Pantone swatch books to find the right ink colors for your project. Once the right colors are chosen, we can help assure that they remain consistent throughout reproduction of all printed materials.
If you need to match a particular color, then spot color printing is something to consider.
Advantages of Offset
• High image quality.
• Works on a wide range of printing surfaces including paper, wood, cloth, metal, leather, rough paper and plastic.
• The unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up.
• Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs. While today’s digital presses are close to the cost/benefit ratio of offset for high quality work, they are not yet able to compete with the volume an offset press can produce.
• Many modern offset presses use computer-to-plate systems as opposed to the older computer-to-film work flows, further increasing quality.
Digital Printing uses 100% nontoxic toners. While the Pantone system is not used in Digital Printing the ability to match colors very closely can be accomplished. Digital Printing is a great choice for short run jobs. There are no toxic chemicals in our digital printing process.
Advantages of Digital
• Shorter turnaround.
• Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during press run.
Cheaper low volume printing. While the unit cost of each piece may be higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are included digital printing provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs.
Still Not Sure Which is Right for you?
Use this checklist to help decide:
• Quantity. Offset printing has a front-end cost load. Short runs may have a high unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing. Very short runs can be much more cost effective with digital printing; while larger quantities are likely to have a lower unit cost with offset printing.
• Printing medium. Do you need or want a special paper, finish or unusual printing surface, or unique size? The options are increasing continually for digital, but offset printing still offers the most flexibility.
• Color. Digital presses use four-color process printing. If you need only black ink or one or two ink colors, offset printing may offer a more cost-effective solution. If you need four-color printing, digital may offer advantages in lower up-front costs.
• More on color. If you’re planning to print using the Pantone® Matching System, offset printing will give you the best match, since it uses actual Pantone® ink. Digital printing simulates the color using a four-color matching process, so some digital printers may offer less accurate color matching on projects.
• Turnaround. If you need it fast, digital usually offers quicker delivery.
• Proofing. Digital offers accurate proofs since you see an actual sample of the printed piece. Accurate color proofing for offset printing can be expensive.
• Customization. Without question, digital printing offers the most affordable way to customize marketing materials, direct mail pieces, letters, etc.
Use the above checklist to help you decide and talk to us before submitting your job for advice on what is best for you, after all it is our specialty!
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