What is the difference between the two anyway? Is it the same in Japan as it is in your country? Can one save more money than the other? For anyone unfamiliar with printing in general. Let’s start with some basics.
What is Offset Printing?
Offset printing presses simply imprint an image from a printing plate to a rubber blanket, which will then serve as a “rubber stamp” and transfer the image to a surface of the printed material or substrate.
This is a very rudimentary explanation on my part just to give a basic understanding of what it is, but for the more visual learners, this short YouTube video does a great job of explaining offset printing in its entirety:
It is one of the most commonly used printing methods in the printing industry. If your job requires you to be color critical and print in massive quantities, going with offset printing would be the best decision for most organizations in terms of quality and affordability.
To give a bit of perspective how common offset printing is in our daily lives, items in our household such as books, packaged goods, labels, or even the calendars are all offset products.
What is Digital Printing?
We all have done digital printing in one way or the other. Whether that was printing something from our home printers or taking a trip to Kinko’s to print something more fancy from our online files. Basically, when you’re utilizing a digital file and sending it to an inkjet, laser, or another type of printer, that is basically what digital printing is in a nutshell.
It is quite an affordable option for many people looking to print in smaller quantities or looking to constantly print customizable data. There are no setup fees or printing plates required compared to more traditional methods such as offset.
When is Digital cheaper than Offset?
It makes sense until over a certain quantity is reached with digital printing that offset will start to look like the more appealing option for companies. The maximum number may vary depending on which printing company you’re talking to, but a safe number is a quantity of 5,000 on average. It also depends on the product. If a job is a single sheet or double sheet that could also determine whether it makes sense to keep the job offset or digital.
Is Offset & Digital printing different in Japan compared to other countries?
No, it isn’t. The machines are about essentially the same, so getting an offset or digital job in your country and Japan would get you identical results.
The quality is better for offset and usually, a pressman can differentiate between the two jobs.
But since the quality of digital technology is getting better by the day. Nowadays liquid toner digital presses have the ability to give offset-like results, so I won’t be surprised when even the most stringent of color managers can’t tell the difference.
For now, though, if the coloring of your brand is critical to you, offset is still the way to go for most businesses.