Digital Printing: How It Differs from Off-Set Litho

If you are looking for smaller production runs, or for something more personal, then digital print is for you. 

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Digital print is reserved for smaller, more personalised runs of printing. With the ability to complete a job within a day, digital print focuses on smaller aspects of print such as one-off booklets or business cards.

History of Digital Printing

Digital printing itself has been available commercially for the last 15-20 years. With the advancement of technology, commercial digital printers could be seen in homes and businesses the world over. When it came to industrialising the digital printer, printing companies found that they could utilise the fast turnaround and efficiency to create bespoke and easily changeable forms of print.

digital printing press fisherprint printers peterborough
A digital printing press. PHOTO CREDIT: Weyes Clothing

The Differences Between Digital Printing and Off-Set Litho Printing:

As mentioned, digital printing is a much quicker process. With off-set litho printing, aluminium sheets are used to print onto rubber cylinders – or blankets – which print onto the sheet-fed paper. off-set litho printers are capable of printing over 20,000 sheets per hour, whereas the digital print method works much like a commercial printer. You can input your image or text – which are interchangeable – and it will print however many copies you desire.

off set litho printing cylinders fisherprint printers peterborough
Off-set litho printing cylinders. PHOTO CREDIT: Print Solutions

One of the main differences between digital and off-set litho printing is the colour and image quality. The quality of the colour and the sharpness of the images will be drastically reduced with digital printing as the ink soaks into the paper, reducing the quality of the colour. Off-set litho guarantees clear and sharp imagery with bold and vibrant colours.

pharmaceutical print at fisherprint printers peterborough
Digital printing at Fisherprint.

Ink in digital printing is used as a spray or powder, which disperses onto the page and can give a slightly grainy finish. However, with off-set litho, the ink is poured into vents before to be applied onto plated cylinders. This gives you an even and smoother finish to your end product.

digital printing ink powder fisherprint printers peterborough
Digital printing ink powder. PHOTO CREDIT: CatPrint Digital Printing Blog

How Digital Printing Can Be Changed

The variables of the print job can be changed accordingly to the customer’s needs. This means that you can print a section of the job with an image or a piece of text, then change it to something else half way through depending on the customer’s specifications. This can not be done with off-set litho printing as the job run and the process of changing the plates will be too costly in terms of both time and money.

digimaster digital printer fisherprint printers peterborough
Digimaster digital printer here at Fisherprint.

Digital printing is better suited to smaller runs of print due to its cost effective nature and quick turnaround – some printing jobs can be completed within one day. The turnaround of a print job varies depending on the specifications that the customer has set out before hand.

digital printing at fisherprint printers peterborough
An example of digital printing at Fisherprint

Benefits of Digital Printing

  • Cheaper for runs less than 1000
  • Uses less energy
  • Less wastage
  • Every piece can be unique
  • At Fisherprint we offer full colour or black and white (mono) digital printing
  • Much quicker turnaround compared to off-set litho printing

The Future of Digital Printing

Digital printing is forever evolving. With technological advances being developed daily, the future of digital print is bright. There is, however, the case of quality; digital print doesn’t offer the customer the level of quality that ff-set litho printing would. Digital technology has not yet matched the superiority of off-set litho printing. The colour and quality of images far surpasses any that digital printing could produce, meaning customers are more inclined to opt for off-set litho for bigger, more detailed jobs.




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