The discovery and development of printing may very well be one of the most important moments in the history of human existence. It played a major role in the evolution of art, communication, and learning. It certainly is hard to imagine society without printing, but that time did exist once. Although our ancestors obviously survived that period, many of their traditions and practices remain unknown to us because there was no way they could have recorded them properly.
Thanks to modern-day printing technologies, we can read books, magazines, newspapers for educational and entertainment purposes. Knowledge and information are extended much easier to more people now because of sophisticated print methods. Everyone can express his or her thoughts and opinions about any subject simply because printing is readily accessible to anyone who needs it. The issue of offset printing vs digital printing remains a topic of debate between endorsees of both printing methods.
Offset is still on
In this world of hi-tech, wireless, and super fast processes, offset printing remains an important aspect of the printing industry. Considered by many as ‘old-school’ printing, it has not really gone through much development since the method was first implemented more than a century ago. In a word, this process entails the use of plates, rubber sheets, and ink rollers to apply inked designs on paper. Each of these rollers contains four main colours – black, cyan, magenta, and yellow – which are then passed over the paper. The colours are transferred in layers until the entire design is achieved.
In offset printing, each design is burned onto a plate, which means that having multiple designs printed out could be costly. However, the outstanding quality that offset printing offers makes it the preferred method of commercial establishments for their marketing materials.
The digital edge
Attaching the word ‘digital’ to a process seems to give people the idea that it becomes faster, and printing is no exception to that notion. Perhaps the main development that came with digital printing is the ability of home users and non-professional printers to produce decent-quality prints in the comfort of their home or office. Digital printers come in a wide variety of models that each carry a specific set of features. They are reasonably priced and quite easy for any type of user to operate. Digital printing provides the kind of flexibility that allows users to work on a printing project any time they want without thinking of the water and ink balance.
While digital printing is fast and convenient, it is very limited in terms of paper choice and colour variations, specifically Pantones.
The print quality of offset printing is definitely miles ahead of digital printing, although the mechanical process costs a lot more as well. For high volume and large format print jobs, it is much better to go for offset printing. The unit price goes down as the quantity goes up, and printing press businesses sometimes give discounts to long-term customers. On the other hand, if you value speed and convenience more, digital printing is the way to go. Turnaround is faster, cheaper, and the monochrome results can look just as good as offset. Both methods have their respective pros and cons – the ideal choice depends on the elements you value the most.
Ella Mason, an experienced freelance writer, wrote this article. Ella specialises in providing useful and engaging advice to small businesses. Follow her on Twitter @ellatmason