A Look at the Differences Between Offset and Digital Printing

Digital printing and offset printing are two ways of making large prints. They both use ink, paper, and toner to create the images you want to print on different media such as cards or brochures. The difference between digital printing and offset is in the way they produce those images. Digital printers work with a laser beam, while an offset printer uses a metal plate with ink spread across it. 

Ink Costs

Offsetting has a higher cost per sheet. In offset printing, more ink is used, resulting in the need for less toner and sometimes even paper to be cut from each sheet. Digital printing uses an average of 90% less ink than offsetting does; this means that you can save money on supplies. The main difference between the two types of printing is that digital prints are generally not as high quality as offset prints.


Offset printing is much faster than digital printing. This is because the metal plate transfers the image to the paper, which means that less work needs to be done by the printer. With digital printing, each individual print must be made one at a time which can take longer depending on the complexity of the image.


Because offset printing uses more ink, the quality is higher than that of digital printing. Digital printers use toner, resulting in a lower resolution and less detail than prints made by an offset printer. Offset prints also have longer-lasting color vibrancy because they are printed with CMYK colors instead of RGB like most digital printers use.

Environmental Impact

Offset printing has a much more significant environmental impact than digital printing does. The reason for this is the use of metal plates in offsetting. These plates must be made and then disposed of after each job. They are not recyclable and create a lot of waste. Digital printers do not have this same negative environmental impact because they use cartridges that can be recycled.


Offset printing is better for large jobs that need a lot of customization. This is because digital printers require each print to be designed separately, taking more time and effort. Offset printers can print multiple images simultaneously, making it faster and easier to customize your project.


Offset printing is superior to digital printing when it comes to color. Offset printers can print CMYK colors, which allows for more vibrant and realistic prints than you can get with digital printers. Digital images also have a higher risk of banding or striping across the image where different colors meet. This occurs in most printers because they print in RGB instead of CMYK.


Offset printing is better for projects that need to last a long time. The inks used are both waterproof and UV resistant, which will not fade when exposed to the sun or with age. Digital printers may produce images with brighter colors, but these prints do not have this same durability due to the lack of water resistance.


Offset printing is more expensive than digital printing. One reason is that it requires a significant initial investment to buy the equipment needed to print with an offset printer, which can cost several thousands of dollars before you even begin your first job. Digital printers are cheap and affordable, making them great for small projects or if you do not need high-quality prints.