What You Probably Don’t Know About Offset Printing

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With all the discussion about digital printing these days (and more and more digital printing companies opening up), some business owners think that digital printing is either their only choice or always the best choice. But if you’re looking at a major commercial printing project, you should know about the offset printing options offered by old-fashioned full-service printing companies, too. Here’s a brief rundown:

What Is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is sometimes difficult explain to laypeople because it requires much more than just running paper through a big machine. Offset printing gets its name because it uses layers of colored inks to produce the final product, each one laid down by a different roller called a “blanket.” In order to make these rollers, custom plates first need to be created, however. The printer must also balance the ink level, water level and various other levels throughout the run to make sure the printing comes out accurate and consistent.

Why Would I Use Offset Printing?

Given that offset printing is a relatively complex process, why would you want to use it? Well, because it still offers the highest possible level of quality, assuming the people overseeing the process are experienced. The offset process offers a very wide range of color options (greater than digital printing, in general), and is also more accurate when it comes to color matching. Additionally, it allows for printing to the edge of the sheet, which not all digital printers can handle. And although the setup for an offset run takes time due to the need for plate and blanket creation, the actual printing can be very fast once setup is complete. That makes it the most efficient choice for a large run of thousands of copies.

How Much Does Offset Printing Cost?

People often say that offset costs much more than digital printing, but that’s only true at certain quantities. For an offset run, you’ll typically need to consider two separate costs: the setup fee and then the price per piece. The setup fee for an offset run is much higher than it is for a digital run (because, again, of those plates and blankets), but the price per piece is typically much lower. So when you’re choosing between offset and digital for any given project, you’ll just need to look at those two costs and see which is more affordable based on how many copies you need.

Have you been considering an offset printing company — or would you now, after learning a bit more about offset printing? Discuss in the comments.