One of the most common ways of producing printed material is Offset printing, which is ideal for printing large volumes of high quality prints. The method of the offset press was introduced in 1875 by Robert Barclay of England for printing on tin, and in 1903 by Ira Washington Rubel of the United States for printing on paper. The process is to create films or plates with your images and transferring them to a rubber blanket. The plates are coated in water, and then in ink, which allows the image to adhere to the ink (because water and ink don’t mix), and not to the wet non-image area.
Digital printing is the “new” kid on the block and is ideal for printing smaller runs and personalized mail pieces. Unlike offset printing, there isn’t a printing plate and the project goes from the computer to the printer, and toner is used rather than ink.
Which Method is Right for You?
But how do you decide to go with offset print as opposed to digital print? First you need to consider the quantity you want to print, the amount of time you have and if your printed piece will contain variable information.
Digital printing usually has a higher cost per page then offset printing, but it is ideal for smaller runs or in creating personalized direct mail pieces that contain your customer’s specific information. It allows for on demand printing, a short turn time and you can modify the variable data for each record. Offset printing usually has a longer set-up time than digital print, but it’s the right choice for large print runs and for material that has a longer shelf-life.