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Printing Facts

Offset vs Digital Printing

Offset vs Digital Printing

What it means to print with an offset press, and a digital press.

WHAT IS OFF-SET PRESS PRINTING?
Offset lithography is the most commonly trusted high volume commercial printing technology. In offset printing, the design image is first burned onto a plate, and is then transferred (or offset) from the plate to a rubber sheet, and finally to the printing surface (kind of like a stamp!). The lithographic process is based on the repulsion of oil and water. The image to be printed gets ink from ink rollers, while the non printing area attracts a film of water, keeping the non printing areas ink-free. These ink free area’s create the negative white space in a design.
WHAT IS DIGITAL PRESS PRINTING?
If you have a desktop printer at home, you’re likely already familiar with the mechanical process of digital printing. Many of the mechanical steps required for offset printing are eliminated (namely, making films and color proofs, manually stripping the pieces together, and making plates), which results in a much more affordable, fast print solution. This sometimes comes at the cost of quality though. Digital printing cannot produce as fine details or as crisp accurate colours as off-set printing.

OFFSET DIGITAL
High Volume Low Volume
Longer Turnaround Time Quick Turnaround
High Definition (300LPI) Medium Definition (175LPI)
CMYK + SPOT Colour + Metallics CMYK only
Vibrant Colours without streaks Minor Colour Inconsistency
Smooth Gradients Choppy Gradients
Unit cost goes down as quantity goes up Unit cost stays relative as quantity goes up

WHAT IS SPOT COLOUR PRINTING AND WHY SHOULD I USE IT?
Pantone Matching System (PMS) is used to achieve flat and consistent colours throughout a single run. If you need to match a particular colour, perhaps a logo colour, and are on a limited budget, Spot Colour Matching is something to consider. Unlike CMYK printing, which overlays CMYK coloured dots to achieve one colour, Pantones are premixed pure colours. CMYK printing can result in colour variance depending on how the dots overlap on different pages, but a Pantone will always be the same. The overlapping dots may give the print a duller look in comparison to a pure colour.

PANTONE CMYK
Flat Colour Dot Pattern
Bright Pure Colour Dull Colour Mixture
Consistent Colour Colour Variance

HOW TO PREPARE FILES FOR SPOT COLOUR PRINTING
  • Look through a Pantone Colour Formula Guide to find the right colour for your brand
  • Use our File Setup page to create a secondary file that will represent the area of the Pantone colour.
  • Email us your designs and complete your order!
Design Guideline
Blank Templates
Proof Print
Colour Swatch