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Digital vs Offset | What's the Difference?

Posted by on in Print Shop Services
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Our Print Shop in Panama City, Florida sees a lot of customers, many of which do not know or understand the difference between digital and offset printing. We want to share the difference and help you better understand so that you can decide along with your local print shop which is best for your print project.

Digital Printing – Is a toner based printing method using high-speed copiers. Copied Type Printing has had some major advancement since it was introduced in the early 80’s. The image quality from our modern machines is as good as offset printing.

Creative Printing of Bay County - Panama City, Florida - Digital Printing - Digital Copier


Offset Printing – Is a Reproductive method in which the image to be printed is output onto a plate. This plate is mounted onto an offset press. A thick liquid like ink is used for the desired color and with a fine ink/water balance; the image is transferred from the plate to a blanket then to the paper. A plate is required for every ink color used. Creative has several offset presses they utilize based on the job requirements. Some presses only print a single color per pass through the press. Our other presses are capable of printing 2, 3 or even 4 colors in a single pass through the press.

Offset Printing Press - Creative Printing - Panama City, FL

So what’s the difference?


Digital machines DO NOT require plates or setup time usually making it a more cost effective option for low quantity runs. Digital equipment has a fixed cost per copy that does not change with quantity, so for longer runs there is a point that offset printing becomes a more cost effective option. This point varies depending on the specific requirements of each job. As opposed to offset printing, which has more up front set up cost, but without click rates. All the set up costs are applied to the first sheet, so the more prints that are ordered the cost per piece can drop significantly.


Although the look is basically the same there is some capability differences. With offset printing, all prints must contain exactly the same image. Digital printing is capable of utilizing variable data to customize each sheet, like adding the name of the recipient in the body of a letter.


Some papers are better suited for offset printing – heavy textures, thick papers, etc. With the advancement of digital presses, there are now material options never before offered and that offset equipment is NOT capable of, like image able magnetic material, waterproof, and synthetic papers.

Which Process Should I Use?

It is best to talk to your printer up front to discuss any specific requirements or concerns you have for your project. Your printer will price your job for the most cost effective print method to deliver a quality printed product.

The most important thing to consider is perhaps who your printer will be. Creative Printing of Bay County offers the latest equipment for both offset printing and digital printing. We will gladly help you determine which type of printing process is most cost-effective for you and get the job done right. Contact us for a quote and we will gladly help  you.

Blog posted from 1328 Harrison Avenue, Panama City, FL 32401, USA View larger map

Creative Printing of Bay County, Inc. is a locally owned and operated "One Stop Print Shop" that has been located in Panama City, Florida for over thirty years. We offer printing services to the Florida Panhandle and beyond. We understand budgets and deadlines.


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Guest Wednesday, 27 September 2023