Is Offset Better Than Digital Printing?

Dare we ask… But who better to take a shot at answering than the printer who does both?

Most beeline commercial printers will tell you their technology is just as good as anybody’s. But we’re in a unique position here at Bambra. Thanks to our high-performance Heidelberg Offset Press and our HP Indigo Digital Presses, we know there’s precedence for both. Here’s why:

Every job will have a unique brief, including its own design, budget and deadline requirements. That means there’s no cookie-cutter answer. But you can choose the most appropriate option by understanding the pros and cons of digital and offset printing.

Best for small runs?

Most likely digital. But it would also depend on the result you’re after.

Thanks to digital technology, smaller quantities of print have never been more affordable. If you’re looking to print fewer than 500 pieces, digital printing boasts a significant cost advantage.

Best for high-volume jobs?

Every job is different and you’ll need to engage a print expert to determine where the volume break is.

In most instances, offset printing will be more economical for projects that are big enough to negate the front-end costs. Think magazines, newspapers, letterheads, business cards, direct mail and other bulk order items. But our digital presses are capable of a lot and you’ll want to make the most of your printer’s services. That’s why Bambra assigns dedicated account managers to each job. Our experienced team will offer you the best advice depending on your specifications.

Best for large sheet sizes?

It’s a draw.

Thanks to Bambra’s top-of-the-line equipment, our digital and offset presses are capable of the same maximum sheet size. But if your specifications go beyond A2, our large-format department can handle just about anything.

Best for special colours?

When it comes to achieving special colours, offset is the clear winner.

Unless, of course, you’re looking to print with white ink. In which case, you’ll need to print digitally.

There are two ways to reproduce colour on paper with ink. CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) is the basic four-colour process used for printing. But as different stocks will manipulate the pigment, the colour gamut of every press will be unique.

That’s why big-name brands will often stick to the more accurate Pantone Matching System (PMS) to ensure consistency across a range of substrates. Maintaining the integrity of colour is more difficult with digital printing because it only uses a four-colour process. With offset, a fifth, custom PMS colour is added to the recipe for a more accurate, vibrant result.

It can also supply many types of varnishes or aqueous coatings for those special technical features (or to save yourself from scuff marks).

Best for image quality?

That depends on the job.

Offset produces the highest print quality available on the widest variety of stocks. The process transfers ink from a plate to a rubber blanket and onto a printing surface. With 200 lines per inch, the final image is crisp, clean and professional—perfect for drawing out fine detail in those premium jobs.

But digital printing has made rapid strides in respect to quality. Thanks to ongoing technological advancements, we’ve successfully innovated and diversified our services. In fact, our digital presses are better suited for a range of jobs (even those that were historically output on an offset press).

Best for quick turnarounds?

Both are title-holders in Bambra’s books.

Because offset uses plates and mixes ink, most printers will tell you an offset job can’t be done in a hurry. At Bambra, we take deadlines seriously. And we’ll rise to the occasion no matter what your requirements are.

We exist to help our clients look brilliant

Getting expert help is a crucial part of the process. That’s why we pride ourselves on being the print partner you can trust to get it right either way.

Get in touch, we’re here to help.

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