Poster printing: Offset printing or digital?

Poster printing: Offset printing or digital?

This is always an issue for many people who want to print posters. Since the digital age arrived, there are now two primary ways of printing posters. They can be done traditionally through an offset printer, and it can be done digitally through digital printers (the kind of ones you have at the office but bigger). That is why most people ask themselves, what is better in printing posters? Do I hire an offset printer or a digital printing company to do the job? Which is best?

Well, the true answer to that is, it all depends on your priorities. There are different benefits when using both printing methods and none of them can be considered superior to the other. Let me give the basic benefits of both processes to give you a clear idea of how they work.

• Digital printing — For digital printing, there are four main benefits you should know about.
o Fast printing speed — Digital printing is fast, and the turnaround times for a batch of digitally printed color posters is always a lot quicker when compared to offset printing. This is because a digital poster printer is always already ready for printing. This is due to the fact that the printer uses the «Continuous ink supply system» (CISS), more on this here  With a digital draft in hand, poster printing can commence immediately. There are no settings, rubber mats, metal frames and other tools that need to be created. It is just an insert and print job that gets the posters to you quickly.

o More affordable for small orders — For small poster printing orders, digital printers are more affordable and cost effective. This is the case because offset printing requires a more expensive initial payment since the special metal and rubber frames and moulds need to be created first. With a small poster printing order, the whole cost of printing posters per print will be expensive.
In digital poster printing this is not the case. Each piece costs more or less the same, since there are no initial costs. So if you are printing a smaller amount of posters (around 50 or below) then digital printing will be more cost effective.

o Accurate per piece — Digital printing for color posters is always accurate per piece. Each poster will be strictly identical to the other no matter how much posters you print. This is because every piece is printed in a precise manner in a digital printer. Offset printing does not have this benefit. Per piece of color posters from offset printing there will always be tiny variations in the ink quality, design alignment since it is inherent in the whole process. So if you want accurately printed color posters, digital printing is the best.

o Easy and fast customization — Digital printing also helps in easy and fast customization. For example, if you are printing color posters that need custom content for different areas of deployment, you can set your printing to a «variable printing mode» where a certain word or design element is changed per batch or each piece of color poster. This can be done automatically without stopping the process. If you do this in offset printing, it will take a longer time since the printers will need to design new frames and mats for each custom content. So if you need some varying color posters, digital printing is the best process.
• Offset printing — There are three major benefits when you print color posters using an offset printing machine.

o Best quality prints — To date, offset printers are still the ones that offer the best quality prints for color posters. There is still a certain kind graininess in digital printing because that digital process of printing is composed more of dots than an actual physical pattern. Posters from offset printers on the other hand are always crisp and clear, giving that impression of high quality posters that most people need for their purposes.

o Cheaper the larger your print order is — When it comes to offset printing, the larger your printing order is, the cheaper each piece becomes. Once the initial cost of the moulds and frames are paid for, the rest of the pieces will just need ink to be produce. That is why most poster offset printing companies can offer wholesale printing discounts the more you print posters. So if you are planning on printing color posters on a large scale, an offset printer might be the best option.

o More printing options — Lastly, offset printing companies usually offer you more printing options. Since they have been around the longest, they can offer you more paper choices, ink choices and even poster configuration choices. Most digital printers don’t have the extensive tools yet that offset printers have. So if you need more unique options for poster printing, an offset printer usually has the right equipment and experience that you need to get some special options done.
So what do you think is best for you? It should be clear now what you might need for your poster printing.


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