Choosing Between Digital and Web Offset Printing

by | Jul 15, 2014 | Business Services

Whether you do it yourself or hire a professional printer, you will likely need to know the differences between digital prints and web offset printing. Each one has its own uses and each has advantages and disadvantages. It will be easier to select the option you need once you understand those differences.

Web Offset

web offset printing is a very common option for high volume needs. Commercial printing requires a lot of effort and supplies and it is usually a good idea to use web offset options whenever you have a lot of things to print, including catalogs and bulk printings.

The web offset works by burning a print image onto a special plate and then transferring (offsetting) the image to a rubber blanket from the plate. Once it is on the rubber blanket, it is then put onto the printing surface. Lithography offset printing is the most common form and this process uses the same as regular web offset, but uses oil and water. The image is inked by rollers and anything that isn’t to be printed attracts a thin film of oil and water, which keeps the ink to the printable areas only.


Digital printing is also a good option for certain things and removes a lot of the mechanical steps that are required for web offset options. This sometimes makes digital prints less expensive because there are no color proofs, no making of plates and no other mechanical needs.

Advantages of Each

Digital prints can be very advantageous if used correctly. There is a shorter turnaround because there is less to do and every print is exactly the same. It is more cost effective though each piece costs more. However, when printing many pieces, the price goes down, as usually happens with bulk prints. If you include the set up costs, you can save even more with digital prints.

Variable Data Printing (VDP) is a newer form of digital print that offers customization so that each piece is actually not the same. You can include different names and other pertinent information so each person gets a special mailing just for them.

Web offset options also have advantages. The quality of the image is usually better and you can use this option on many different surfaces, including wood, metal, cloth, paper, leather and plastic. It is usually slightly more expensive than other options, but the more you print, the less you will spend.

web offset printing works well for quantitative needs and if you need special surfaces. Consider McAdams Graphics for your specialty print needs.

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