Digital Printing vs Traditional Offset Printing: Which Is Better?

The short answer to this question is that it depends greatly on your time frame, your budget, and what material you need to print on. But there are a lot of more specific caveats to both digital printing and traditional offset printing. Each one comes with its own pros, cons, and quirks, so if you’re not sure which one to use for your next printing job, let this article help you make the best decision for your needs and wants.
What Can Digital Printing Do for Me?Digital is fantastic if you’re on a tight deadline, as it doesn’t require the same set up as traditional offset printing. It also offers you more flexibility as far as customization goes. With it, you can take advantage of variable data printing. In other words, if you need each piece you print to have a different name, address, graphic, or anything else, you can make those changes without it slowing down or stopping the printing process.It can also be cheaper than traditional offset, but this depends on where you get the work done and how much you need printed. If you need a commercial amount printed, the price difference probably won’t be that big, but if you have a smaller amount to do, digital will save you some money.

What Does Traditional Offset Printing Offer?

While digital printing has numerous advantages, traditional offset printing is not to be overlooked. It can offer you a higher quality than digital, as well as a wider variety of choices for your material medium. If you need something printed on metal, leather, cloth, rock, or any other unusual material, digital might not even be an option. However, offset can probably take care of it. In addition, it allows you more control and choices when it comes to the colors you use.

What Problems Come with Digital Printing?

Digital print technology has a lot of upsides, but it’s not yet a perfect process. Oftentimes, it doesn’t offer the capacity to handle projects on materials other than plain paper, and the quality is not as good as offset printing. The most common example of this is that the ink used in digital printers often doesn’t entirely soak into the paper, which means that the colors can appear cracked.

As far as pricing goes, digital printing is likely to be a cheaper option for lower volumes of work, but once you start approaching the range of 1000 or so pieces, digital printing will probably cost more or less the same as traditional offset printing.

What are the Fallbacks of Traditional Offset Printing?

While traditional offset printing boasts the best quality around, it certainly is not without its pitfalls. It can’t allow the same level of personalization as digital. If you need to customize different pieces, it will inevitably slow down the printing process. Offset printers are also a slower process than digital printers, so if you’re coming up on a major deadline, it may not be a great choice.


The better choice hinges on what you can afford, how quickly you need the job done, how much quality matters, and what freedoms you need as far as materials, colors, and customization. Before you decide which method to use, it might help to make a list of your requirements and preferences, and see which form of printing meets the most of them.