Digital vs Offset Printing

Printing technology is constantly changing. It’s not always easy to know which side to pick when it comes to digital vs offset printing.

Here’s a little help for choosing between digital and offset lithography printing.

Depending on the objectives for the project, offset printing may or may not be the best technology for you. The table below will provide you with information on which is right for you. And if you’re still unsure, you can always ask a Super Printer’s team member what they think will work best for your project.



Quantity High quantities, 1000+ Low quantities (short runs) less than 1000
Colour Pantone® (PMS) or CMYK CMYK
Turnaround Drying time required (2 day minimum) Need it quickly, short turnaround
Price Prints higher quantities at much less cost Prints lower quantities at much less cost
Quality Higher image quality, higher resolution and no streaks/spots. The ability to produce gradients, vibrant colours, solids and metallics High image quality not a factor
Sheet Size Largest sheet size available: 12×18 Our digital presses only print up to a 13×19 sheet although 12×18 is the most common sheet size
Variable Text No. Can print variable text or images where each sheet off the press is unique in some personalized way (database driven for mailing lists, marketing materials, direct mail pieces, letters, etc. with a different name/address or number/code on each printed piece)
Finishing Must dry or be coated before handling. Once a sheet is off a digital press it can be cut, folded or finished immediately
Special Inks Yes – metallics, fluorescents, neons (PMS colours) No special inks (metallics, fluorescents) since all colors will have to fall within a CMYK gamut
Stock/Printing Surfaces Works on a wide range of printing surfaces including thick paper, rough paper and specialty papers Limited choice of stocks available. Maximum weight of 14pt. Textured stocks don’t work well.
Proofing If you need hard-copy proofs, very accurate colour proofing can become expensive. Offers more accurate proofs, since what you see is an actual sample of the printed piece printed using the exact process as the intended run.