When we say digital, a color copy, ink jet or laser printer would be digital. Everything you see at Kinko’s is digital. Images are translated from computer code to moving parts then directly to paper. Digital prints typically are lower in cost in small quantities, print quality is usually lower than offset, most do not print all the way to the edge (full bleed), and finishing options are limited to coatings that already exist on the paper. One distinct advantage is that most large format prints are digital because of size and cost,
large format printings are usually limited to
Offset printing is the traditional way of printing things before the computer days. There are plates that work like photography film, these need to developed and processed in almost the same fashion. Blankets, rollers and ink, transfer images in separate colors to create full color images (single color, 2 color, 3 color or more than 4 color options are available), that’s why
sometimes this type of printing is also called
4-color process. Another common term is also lithography. The distinctive disadvantage of offset printing is its long and expensive set-up compared to digital. Although recent technology has sped up and lowered the cost of set-up, it still costs more than digital in the short-runs (small quantity orders usually under 500 pieces). On the other hand, once the job is set up on the machine, printing happens at incredible speeds and cost of printing drops dramatically as quantity increases. There are also a number of different finishes that can be used in offset printing; the more common ones are UV coating (high heavy gloss), AQ coating (High light gloss), matte coating (matte gloss). Other special effects can also be requested at additional costs.
Depending on what you are looking for, your design expert will be able to assist you in assessing what you need.
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