What is the Difference Between Digital and Offset Printing?

Unless you are in the printing business, chances are you do not know the difference between digital and offset printing. Digital and offset printing are the two most popular ways to print marketing materials, and only the most discerning eye can actually tell the difference between the two different types of printing. While the end result is fairly similar, the process for each is very different, and below we will investigate the difference between digital printing and offset printing. 

What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is the traditional way to print marketing materials in large batches. Offset printing begins with the transfer of ink from a plate to a rubber sheet. Once the transfer is complete, the rubber sheet is then rolled onto paper, vinyl, or some other surface to complete the printing job. 

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is a relatively new type of printing, only being in use for less than 30 years. Digital printing is an innovative way to print marketing materials, using a digital image instead of plates and rubber sheets to print out a design. This allows for much more specificity and design details.

What are the Differences Between Offset and Digital Printing?

Now that we have an overview of the two different types of printing, we can identify some of the advantages and disadvantages of each method.


In general, the actual cost of printing is higher for digital printing than it is for offset printing. However, that price does not take into account the fact that for offset printing you will need to pay for the printing plates needed to complete the job. With this addition, the price is usually around the same, but digital printing offers the bonus of having a set price so you know ahead of time how much the entire job will cost.

Print Quality

Offset printing is typically higher quality, but the difference between the quality of digital and offset printing is nowhere near as large as it used to be. Innovation in digital printing has made the difference in quality between the two print methods minuscule and barely noticeable to the naked eye. 

Print Speed

If you already have your plates prepared and ready to go, offset printing is usually quicker than digital printing. Therefore, if you need to print pages as quickly as possible, go with offset printing unless you still need to design the plates.

Types of Printing 

Offset printing allows you to print on larger pieces of paper than digital printing, giving you more options on the types of printing you wish to complete. 

Size of Print Job

For smaller jobs, digital printing is ideal. You can quickly upload your digital design and get printing as soon as possible. For large or recurring print jobs, offset printing is preferred. While it requires a bit more preparation, once the plates are finalized the printing process is quick and easy.

Variable Data Printing

One huge benefit of digital printing is variable data printing. Variable data printing allows you to make small changes from one printed piece to the next, giving you complete customization of all printed materials. For example, a digital printer can print thousands of letters, all with a different name and address printed on it, as part of one printing job. Offset printing does not allow for this type of customization.

Offset and Digital Printing at L+L Printers in San Diego

No matter your printing needs, L+L Printers in San Diego has got you covered. We offer both offset and digital printing to our customers, helping you find the ideal printing method for your specific needs. If you are still unsure which type of printing is best for your business, contact L+L Printers and our team of experts will be able to recommend the best printing method for you. To learn more or to get a quote on the cost of printing, contact L+L Printers today by calling (858) 859-9044 for our San Diego office or (760) 477-0321 for our Carlsbad office.



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