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What is the difference between digital and offset printing?

Jessica Sanchez

Digital + Offset = Best value printing.

Most printing companies feel that digital and offset printing complete with each other. At PrintingCenterUSA, we feel that feel that the combination of digital and offset complement each other. We utilize the strengths of each to offer our customers the best of both worlds for quality, price, service and turnaround times.

With digital printing there is no make ready, all work done to set up a press for printing and the setup is easier, the process of making a printing press ready to print, lower labor costs. No printing plates are needed and file goes directly to press and prints directly from computer to paper. The first copy is up to color. Costs remain constant over all run lengths. 

Traditional offset printers have much higher nonproductive up-front costs due to longer make ready and set up times. Printing plates need to be made, and there is more setup costs and maintenance associated with make ready. It usually take about 200 sheets to get your project up to color and ready to be produced. As run lengths increase, costs decline. Short runs under 5,000 are more expensive with most offset printers.

Our state of the art combination of digital and offset printing presses allow us to offer cheap printing without the overhead that big offset printing shops have, which means we can do the smaller jobs of 10 to 5,000 booklets and 10 to 15,000 brochures, flyers, etc. for the customer for less. 

When it comes to comparing digital printing vs. offset printingmost printing shops will tell you that their offset printing offers better quality than digital printing. Not so at PrintingCenterUSA, We feel there is very little difference between offset and digital printing. Digital printing quality has come a long ways, and top-quality modern digital printers like our HP digital presses can match the quality of offset printing, where this wasn’t true 5 years ago. We feel that digital and offset complement each other. Our online printing company uses only the best short run digital and offset equipment available to give you the highest quality short run printing money can buy.

We give our online printing services customers the best of both offset and digital worlds.

Short run digital printing companies only offer quantities up to 500 or 1,000 sheets or booklets. Short run printing jobs under 5,000 sheets or booklets are generally more expensive with most digital and offset printers. At PrintingCenterUSA our short run offset press fills the gap between 1,000 and 5,000 sheets and booklets. This gives you the best printing costs and quality of both worlds.


There is a gap in small quantity printing jobs between 1,000 and 5,000 sheets or booklets. Both traditional digital and offset printers are generally more expensive. Our Heidelberg Anicolor SM52 offset printing press fills that gap. With its superfast “make readies” we can change plates and be up to color in 10 sheets in less than 6 minutes and still produce superior Heidelberg quality color.

As you can see in the above graph how the combination of the HP7600 and the Heidelberg Anicolor press offer the best value for short run quantities of 10 to 5,000 sheets and books and makes low-volume printing affordable, where with traditional printing methods the per-copy cost would be too high to be practical.

Our state of the art printing presses allow us to have lower-cost setup so that short run jobs don’t have the overhead that big offset printing shops have, which means we can do the smaller jobs for the customer for less.