The printing industry has been trough a lot of technology changes in the last decade or so, today’s most commonly commercial printing option remain as follows; offset printing, and computer-direct-to-plate digital printing. It might become confusing at times knowing what printing option to choose for your upcoming project, so let us try and explain it a little bit. To have a better understanding of what each process is more suitable for and when each is used, let’s take plastic card printing – frequently used for company gift cards – as a perfect example, and break down the two different printing processes used to print these types of cards.
It is important to note however, that while 99% of end-users will not be able to tell any difference what-so-ever between digital print and offset printing, still, from the printers point of view, there are different advantages and disadvantages to both of these print types.
Digital printing –
also known as computer-to-plate printing – is a popular printing method, especially for full-color (CMYK) art files and photocopy printing projects, while it’s more expensive as well as more time consuming for larger quantities, it is still a great option when producing smaller quantities – usually 5,000 plastic cards or less – and when dealing with a highly customized printing job.
Offset Printing –
The use of the traditional method of offset printing, still delivers many other advantages, especially true when printing PVC plastic cards;
- Larger Runs – Offset printing is the perfect and cheaper solution for larger printing runs
- Variety of Color – Offset printing delivers awesome results for any full color (CMYK) job
- Cost – With offset printing, the more you print, the more the cost per card is reduced
- Fonts and Ink – Offset printing is designed to adjust very well with heavy ink as well as with extremely small fonts
However, offset printing requires a much higher minimum quantity and the expected turnaround time will also be longer.
Taking all this in consideration, the next decision to make, is what type of plastic you want your cards printed on, because this will also make a very big difference on what type of printing process you are able to use. and even the card features you need will also make a world of difference.
For example, if you want variable data printed on each card, like a different barcode or a number unique to each card, then you will have to go with digital printing, the only option that can really offer variable printing from card to card. while offset printing – although doable – still has a lot of limitations when printing variable data.
Obviously, as you can probable see, choosing what type of printing process is best suited for your project, comes down to so many factors, and that’s why you should hire a professional printing company for the best results, and always make sure to consult your printing provider before settling on the best suitable printing method for your next big project.