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The Differences between Offset Printing and Digital Printing

February 13th, 2019 | by Carol Gilmore
The Differences between Offset Printing and Digital Printing

Anyone who approaches the world of printing and typography, whether online or not, even if only to use some services, will soon see that there is talk of offset printing and digital printing: this is the main division between machines that generally operate in a large or medium print shop. But what is the difference between these two types of printing, will tell you.

To begin with, one thing must be said: these two technologies differ less and less. The digital printing, which has been the last to arrive, is already mature, while the offset printing continues to improve thanks to graft inherited from digital technologies.

Once this clarification is made, we tell you, in the simplest and most correct way possible, what are the characteristics of offset printing and digital printing and what are its main differences. For more info visit

Offset printing

The offset printing is still the most common type of printing industry. In Pixar printing, for example, we print 80% of the paper in offset.

The offset printing is based on a mechanism comprised of three cylinders. In the first cylinder a very flexible aluminum plate is placed: this is the matrix of the image that has been inked. The second cylinder is covered with a rubber fabric and receives the image of the matrix and then printed on the sheet. The blade passes between the rubber cylinder and a third cylinder called counter-pressure cylinder, which favors the correct printing of the image by pressing the sheet on the rubber cylinder. On the matrix work other small cylinders, called inking rollers -which transmit ink from a bucket to the matrix- and wet rollers -which transmit a water-based solution from a bucket to the matrix-.

Digital printing

Digital printing is a much broader concept than offset printing and includes several printing technologies. Printing inkjet and laser printing are two examples we know very well with our home printers. The least common denominator among these technologies is the fact that the image is digitally processed and printed on paper directly or indirectly.

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Advantages and disadvantages of offset printing and digital printing

Now that we have described the two technologies, we can better understand the advantages and disadvantages of offset printing and HP Indigo digital printing, as well as intuit why there are fewer and fewer differences.

Initial cost: offset printing has the disadvantage of preparing the initial matrix. This has a higher cost than the digital one and modifications cannot be made to the plate once it has been prepared.

Minimum number of copies: since in digital printing the matrix is ​​created in electronic format, you can also print a single copy of the product, while in offset printing, given the cost of preparation of the plate, it would not be profitable.

Quality: it has always been said that the quality of offset printing is superior to that of digital printing. Actually, today, only a very expert eye could distinguish between a product printed in digital HP Indigo and one printed in offset.

Format: offset printing uses a large format sheet, in which it is possible to combine several products, thus lowering printing prices.

In the future, will these technologies converge? We will be attentive to see what the innovations of the coming years will bring us!

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