Digital Vs Offset Printing – Which one to choose?

What is digital vs offset printing? Digital? Offset? All we know is printing is done by large machine commercially and by printers at home &office. Do you have the same answer?

Well the answer is wrong! Confused? Read on to understand difference between Digital vs Offset printing……

Since the invention of printing press in 1440, printing has been continuously evolving into various formats;  latest innovation being 3D printing.

Offset printing was developed in two versions: in 1875 by Robert Barclay of England for printing on tin, and in 1904 by Ira Washington Rubel of the USA for printing on paper.

Since then Offset printing has been here. It has been the most popular and best way to print just about everything like newspapers, magazines, booklets, pamphlets, brochures, advertisements and more.

In understanding, offset printing works by transferring ink from a plate to a rubber sheet, which then rolls the ink onto paper, vinyl or other surface.

The first Digital printing press came out in 1990’s. The development of computers and increase in need of copies of informative material boasted its development.

The digital printing process involves digital image loaded into a computer, which can be transferred on to variety of paper stocks like gloss ,matte, photographic paper, vinyl etc.

Digital printing uses dry in machines just as wide inkjet printers and thermal printers. Digital printing is usually used for less quantity print jobs or custom printing


If we print two copies of the same design one on offset and other digital then in untrained eyes it may appear same but the print quality is generally better on offset. Though it is an arguable comparison which depends on type and maintenance of machine. Like a brand new Komori Litherone would definitely provide high standard of quality prints.

Offset printing also allows to print larger sheets and can print many sheets quicker than digital printing presses – depending on the setup.

Apart from relatively minor differences, the actual finished product associated with digital vs offset printing are remarkably similar.

The difference, as it turns out, is rooted more deeply in price and budget than anything else; and even these numbers are contingent on your business needs.

Infographic Showing The Difference

digital vs offset printing infographic

Advantages of Digital vs Offset Printing


  • Shorter Turnaround
  • Cheaper low volume printing
  • Availability of variable data printing


  • Cheaper high volume printing
  • Higher image quality, higher resolution and no streaks/spots.
  • Many modern offset presses use computer-to-plate technology further increasing quality.
Why offset printing not suitable for small quantities?

For every print job first the content has to be transferred onto a plate, and then printing press has to be individually set with the plate for each individual job.

This process costs money and adds up as an additional cost to your print job regardless of quantity. The printing plates cost is fixed which does not vary according to the quantity.

Since digital printing does not use plates so no setup costs are involved thus you pay a flat price per print.

For short run jobs, digital printing is always cost effective as it negates the set up cost than offset printing.

However, as offset presses can print so quickly your price per print diminishes with the increase in quantity.

Hypothetical Example 

You are launching an organic milk doorstep services in Delhi. Lets go hyper local and say south Delhi.

So you chart out a marketing plan which includes say pamphlet / flyer distribution, brochure at local grocery stores and kiosks, social media etc.…

lets take sample target household to be 10,000 and you would definitely want to circulate flyers at least 3-4 during a period of time to generate interest therefore It would be advisable to get the pamphlets printed on offset and together for all future circulations i.e 10’000*4= 40,000 prints which will bring printing cost down as compared to 10,000 print every time .

Offset printers always advice more the quantity less the prices because variable costs of paper, inks n more keep on reducing with increase in costs.

Another Example: If you have a seminar where you are promoting your services and you require 200 brochures. In this case digitally printed brochures would me more economical and fast as compared to offset printing.

Thus concluding, for large print jobs offset printing becomes far more economical than digital printing because your setup fee is absorbed by the diminished price per piece

“Ultimately It all depends on type and quantity of printing job.”

Digital printing is typically best suitable when you need fewer prints between 1-1000 pieces.

Offset printing is typically best choice for more than 1000 pieces.

You can know more about pricing. contact us.

Tip: It is always advisable combine all the quantities and get them printed at once to reap the benefits of diminishing pricing rule.

Keep in mind that many resources that publish information regarding offset printing versus digital printing have a vested interest in one or the other; but when you work with a printing company that has state-of-the-art printing presses for both offset and digital applications, you can get unbiased recommendations that work within your budget, quantity and quality requirements so you can get the best possible print job for your money – whether it’s offset or digital.