In the world of printmaking, digital presses are the newest technology out there. Here’s what digital printmaking brings to the table.
Once upon a time, there was just one game in town when it came to printmaking: offset presses. These printing presses ruled the roost for decades, but then new and emergent technologies made digital presses possible, creating a true revolution when it came to the printmaking process. Here’s how digital presses change the game, what they’re excellent at doing, and where they need improvement before they can permanently dethrone offset printing.
Cost to Print On Offset Versus Digital Presses
If offset presses were perfect, then digital printmaking would have never become a thing. They’re not, though — in fact, there are a lot of limitations in offset printing technologies that digital printmaking directly addresses. First and foremost is the relative cost to print a single page.
Before you can even print one page from an offset printer, you need to have a metal plate etched with the image of whatever it is you’re printing. This is a painstaking and expensive process, and that means having an offset plate created for a print run of anything less than 500 to 1000 copies can be prohibitively expensive.
Compare that to how digital presses handle setup. There’s no physical plate needed to begin a print run on a digital printer, as all you need is a digital file of the image for the printer to process and reproduce. This image will obviously need work to create, but the amount of time and energy it takes for a graphic designer to layout and proof a file for printing is minuscule next to what goes into creating an offset plate. This makes digital presses the clear winner when it comes to printing short runs quickly and cost-effectively.
Customization: Another Strength of Digital Printmaking
The low up-front cost of printing small to medium runs on digital presses is a major advantage to be sure, though this cost-effectiveness tends to diminish when you’re printing very large quantities. In this case, offset printing comes out ahead, as the lower cost per printed page starts to diminish the cost impact of having a custom plate made for each print run.
But there are other ways that digital printmaking offers advantages over traditional methods, the biggest being customization and personalization.
With an offset print run, you’re locked in by the fact that you need a different plate made every time you want to change even a single element of a run. This makes customized or personalized print runs expensive and time-consuming.
Names, addresses, images, or specific text are all easily configurable, which makes customization and personalization incredibly easy and cost-effective.
Digital presses spin a different tale, though — thanks to the fact that you just need to supply a digital printer with the correctly formatted data, it’s easy to program a print run that makes use of variable data pulled from a database. Names, addresses, images, or specific text are all easily configurable, which makes customization and personalization incredibly easy and cost-effective.
Other Differences you Should Know About
There are a few other differences between offset and digital presses that you should be aware of before choosing the technology for your next print run. Digital printing is a clear winner when it comes to short runs that require high levels of customization, as it’s going to be the quickest and most affordable option. But when you need a high number of identical copies, offset printing is always going to be your best, most cost-effective choice.
Another (slight) limitation of digital presses is that sometimes color reproduction might not be as high quality as through offset printing. Offset printers apply ink to paper in ways that reproduce colors much more accurately in some cases, though digital print technologies are catching up quickly with this issue. Yet if exact color reproduction is an important issue to you and your next print project, turning to offset printing may be a good option for you, especially if the rest of your job’s parameters align with what offset printing does well.
Las Vegas Color Graphics: Your Digital Printmaking Specialists
Here at Las Vegas Color Graphics, we know more than just a bit about digital presses. We have some of the newest and most advanced digital printing technologies at our fingertips, ready and willing to show you just how effective digital presses can be for your next project. At the same time, we’ve been the Las Vegas area’s premier print partner for more than 40 years — that means we have the skills and equipment to provide traditional offset printing as well.
Here’s a list of our digital presses! For more information on our printing equipment click here.
- HP Indigo 12000 digital press
- Xerox Production Nuvera 120
- Xerox iGen4 digital press
- Xerox iGen 150 digital press
No matter how you slice it, we’re your best choice for your next print project. Contact us today and learn how we can make your next print run look amazing!