What’s the difference between offset litho printing and digital printing?


As we all know, printing can be a confusing topic, and one of these ever-mysterious subsections is the difference between the printing methods of digital, and offset litho. There are three main factors that should be considered when comparing these methods:


Whereas digital printing will involve little more than minor expenditures in setting up, there is then the matter of a cost for each copy printed using the system.

Offset litho printing involves more setting up and a printing plate to create the first copy, but then the cost per copy is much cheaper. As a general guide, up to 500 items is cheaper printed digitally and over 500 is cheaper using offset litho printing.


Digital printing jobs are generally turned from order to product in around the space of half a week (working days), whist offset litho projects are seen as slower, with a 5 working days turnaround.

This is because digital print items are printed dry (albiet slowly), but in offset litho, where the actual printing is fast, real, and wet, ink is used in the process, meaning that drying time is needed before packaging.


Both digital and offset litho printing use a ‘full colour’ process to create different colours, but offset litho can also allow for the use of dedicated ‘spot’ colours, which are very accurate and can include features such as metallic silver and gold effects, or even fluorescent inks.

Overall, it is still difficult to choose a clear and favourable method, but if the user is looking for specific features for their printing, then it is wise to weigh up which printing method is best for their particular needs. However as a rule of thumb. If you only need a few then go digital. Thousands calls for litho printing every time.

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