Resources/Guides   for   Printing
Digital vs. Offset Printing

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. Most Common Offset lithography is the most common high volume commercial printing technology. In offset printing, the desired print image is burned onto a plate and is then transferred (or offset) from the plate to a rubber blanket, and then to the printing surface. The lithographic process is based on the repulsion of oil and water. The image to be printed gets ink from ink rollers, while the non printing area attracts a film of water, keeping the non printing areas ink-free. Mechanical Steps Eliminated in Digital Printing Digital printing eliminates many of the mechanical steps required for conventional printing, including making films and color proofs, manually stripping the pieces together and making plates.

So … Which is Better??   Well, it seems that depends.You can choose by looking at these advantages

    Advantages of Digital

  • Shorter turnaround.

  • Every print is the same and has more accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations

  • 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.

  • Variable Data Printing is a form of customizable digital printing. Using information from a database or external file, text and graphics can be changed on each piece without stopping or slowing down the press. For example, personalized letters can be printed with a different name and address on each letter. Variable data printing is used primarily for direct marketing, customer relationship development and advertising.

    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.

    • Still not sure which to choose? Use the checklist below to 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.


      Preparing My Files

      For the majority of print jobs we perfer an Uncompressed PDF with crop marks and 1/8in bleeds. Additionally, please be sure that all fonts are converted to outlines (Adobe Creative Suite) or curves (CorelDraw.) Below is a diagram of a typical document for print designs.

      Trim Line: This is the finished size of the piece.

      Live Area: The area that is considered safe to keep any important information within. For example, if an ad’s trim size is 8.25 in × 10.25 in, the live area might be 7.75 in × 9.75 in. This takes into consideration the binding if the ad is placed on the left or right of a spread and you don’t want copy to be unreadable if it is too close to the spine.

      Bleed Area: The more bleed you can offer, the better.The minimum bleed you need for a printed piece is 0.125 in (1/8 in) but some specs require more than that. So if you are working with an image in Photoshop and you’re placing it in InDesign for print preparation, keep in mind the area you might need to use for the bleed.

      Crop Marks: Indicates where to cut the paper.


      What is a Vector Logo

      A vector file is a graphics file that contains a vector image, rather than a raster, or bitmapped, image. Shapes and lines make up vector graphics, which are fully scalable images, while raster images are made of pixels and cannot be scaled up without loss. Graphic designers prefer vector images for logos and line art because they can be converted to a wide range of sizes without distorting the image.


      RGB vs CMYK

      A lot of the colors you create in RGB mode are not achievable using standard four-color process printing. It is always best to create your document from the start in CMYK color mode to ensure that you have a better idea of how your colors are going to print. Some exceptions are tradeshow signs or large format prints, but the best way to know for sure is to check with the printer.


      Bulk Mailing Questions

      The term "bulk mail" refers to larger quantities of mail prepared for mailing at reduced postage. In Business Mail 101, the term "bulk mail" means commercial First-Class Mail and advertising mail (called "Standard Mail" by the Postal Service). Commercial prices are available for other classes of mail, too. The Postal Service uses the terms "bulk" and "presorted" interchangeably. Bulk prices are lower than "single-piece". "Single-piece" means that you pay the full postage price; when you put a stamp on a letter, you're paying the single-piece postage. Many mailers pay single-piece postage even though they are doing large mailings. Why? Because they don’t want to do any extra preparation work—they don’t have the time, or it’s just not cost effective for their business. Business Mail 101 will help you make smart choices about your own mail to determine if commercial prices are right for you.

      What Are Commercial Prices?

      The Postal Service offers lower prices for bulk mailings because you do some of the work that otherwise would have to be done by the Postal Service (for example, sorting the mail by ZIP Code or transporting the mail to a different postal facility). Everyone benefits from this "work-sharing." Mailers make an investment in time and technology, the Postal Service’s costs are reduced and you pay less postage.

      What are the Minimum Quantities for Bulk Mailing?

      • 500 pieces of First Class Mail

      • 200 pieces for Standard Mail

      • 50 pieces for Parcel Select

      • 300 Pieces for Presorted or Carrier Bound Printed Matter.

      • 300 pieces for Media Mail

      What is Required for Bulk Mailing Preperation?

    • Inketting or Label all Pieces to USPS Standard

    • Presort all Materials Based on USPS Standards

    • Bundle or Crate all Materials

    • For Additional Discount, Use Barcoding

    • Mailing List Check to USPS Database