Distinguishing between Digital Printing and Offset Printing

Are you looking to have new business cards printed for your brand but you are not sure whether to go with a digital printing or the offset lithography printing? If so, then you are at the right place. Let’s have an in-depth look at each of these 2 methods that are commonly used in printing and the dissimilarities between them to help you decide which method to go with.

  1. Offset Printing Method

The offset printing method was invented in 1450 by a German scientist called Johannes Gutenberg. Also known as the printing press method, offset printing remains to be the most common method of cost-effectively printing voluminous documents like brochures, magazines, newspapers, and more.

The printing process entails the creation of a master image which is inked and then pressed against paper. While the master image is normally made of metal, we have seen wood, stone and other materials being used for different offset printing applications over the years. First the inked master image is applied to a smooth rubber surface which is then pressed against the paper that takes up the ink. This is how offset printing works at its simplest. However, there are many more details involved in modern-day printing applications incorporating other technologies like the use of oil and water.


  • The printing press method allows the most extensive array of color re-production from pantone colors to metallic colors to foily colors to florescent colors and more.
  • It works with a broad spectrum of paper weights, size as well as textures.
  • This method allows for the printing of light inks like white ink on a dark surface of a paper.
  • It offers high-quality inks.
  • The offset printing method lets you make adjustments to ink density.
  • High volume printing exceeding 200,000 plus copies can be reproduced very fast.


  • The printing press method is known for its slower setup time alongside numerous production steps.
  • This method is not cost effective for low volume print projects. For instance, printing less than 500 copies of a document can be quite expensive.
  • You can’t just print out a single copy.
  • The process requires a considerable amount of drying time.
  • The machines which are used in this process are not very portable or user-friendly. They are bulky and require trained personnel to operate for quality print results.
  • A lot more attention to detail is necessary to ensure that the quality of the results is acceptable.

Although it has some downsides, the printing press method is a preferred choice for many as it offers the most accurate control of color, variation as well as paper weight.

  1. Digital Printing

Digital printing is a method of printing various types of digital-based images. It’s the most common technique of reproducing digital images on paper that is used by many professional printing services.

Here, a digital image is sent directly to a printing machine, doing away with the need for a printing plate, that’s used in print press method, thereby saving money as well as time.


  • Unlike press printing, digital printing offers short turn-around time.
  • The digital printing method can be used for a wide variety of mediums not to mention metal, glass, and others.
  • It’s affordable and economically effective for low volume prints under 500 copies.
  • You can print out just a single copy.
  • This method can do very large format printing exceeding 10 feet in diameter.
  • Digital printing services are more easily accessible than press print services.
  • In addition, getting pricing is faster and doesn’t require a formal quote from a printer.


  • It’s hard to reproduce colors accurately with digital printing.
  • Color consistency isn’t very appealing.
  • Larger quantities exceeding 500 copies can be costlier to produce.
  • Reproduction of pantone colors, metallic colors, foily colors, florescent colors and other complex colors is out of question.
  • Final results are limited to gloss or semi-gloss finish.
  • Limited choice of paper weight and color.
  • Can’t reproduce a matte finish desirably.
  • Can’t produce white or light colored inks on dark papers.
  • The fact that ink sits on top of the paper rather than being absorbed makes the paper more prone to cracking.

Many people prefer digital printing since they are better acquainted with the process. You probably own a color printer or have possessed one at some point in your life.

Now you know the difference between digital printing and offset printing and should be able now to choose the method that is right for your printing needs. At IncPush Marketing we do Offset Printing. If you are looking for a reliable company to entrust with your printing project, be sure to check out IncPush Marketing. We offer great products and services at affordable rates.

**It is important that when you are preparing files for printing that you use the correct methods (CMYK) or there are chances that you may have colour problems during the printing process.


Corey Hayes
Corey is COO and one of the partners at IncPush Marketing. He built his first website at the age of 14 and has worked with hundreds of businesses taking care of everything from print design to developing websites that reach top ranking spots on Google.

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