The two of the most common kinds of commercial printing services in Singapore are “Offset” and “Digital” Printing. While there are countless debates as to which printing technique is better, we’ll help you figure out the differences between these two, including their pros and cons so you can find the more suitable printing technique for your business materials.
The first steam-powered offset press was developed in 1906, and for many years, printing services in Singapore have solely relied on the efficiency of offset printers for commercial purposes such as printing newspapers, magazines, advertisements, brochures, flyers, packaging, and so much more. The process involves an aluminum printing plate which contains the content to be printed and this content is the only part that is inked. Then, the content is transferred or “offset” to a rubber blanket which rolls ink onto the paper, cardboard, plastic, or other plain, flat surfaces. This is a series of rollers and each roller has its own specified ink colour of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black. The page passes through all these rollers, building up layers of colours until the images and text are completed.
Offset Printing produces the best quality, high-resolution, images that are streak-free and spotless. If your project demands very specific colours, then offset printing is the best choice because it could exactly replicate the colour that you want. All colours are printed vibrantly, regardless if they’re in the form of solids, metallics, gradients, and pantone. Combining technology with the traditional offset printing presses, images can now be transferred from computer to the printing plate, thus making the quality of the images even better.
Offset presses are able to print on a wide range of materials such as all kinds of paper (even the rough ones), wood, cloth, metal, leather, and plastic. It could print anything from small flyers to large format prints and is most ideal for mass-produced quantities. If you are aiming to produce more than a thousand copies of your material, offset printing is the more efficient and economical choice because the cost per page is cheaper than that of digital printing.
Offset printing requires an ample lead time for the printers to review the files, set up the press, transfer images onto the plates, and send proofs for approval before actually starting to print. After that, the press is required to run smoothly first, which means a few hundred sheets should be done initially to achieve consistently exceptional results. However, when it’s already up and running, it could produce thousands of copies in an hour or so, depending on the size of the content and the sheet to be printed on. Also, offset printing doesn’t allow instant customisation. Only one version can be produced all throughout, and should you find the need to modify something, you would have to go through all the offset printing steps again.
Digital Printing came into existence in the early 1990s, doing away with the numerous steps needed for offset printing. In this printing technology, images are produced from complex mathematical formulas and captured from a matrix of dots that we call pixels. The result is a digitised image that controls how the ink or toner is deposited to reproduce the said data. This technology is similar to the common laser and inkjet printers found in our homes and offices today.
Because there aren’t any required procedures pre-press, digital printing doesn’t require any lead time. Once you have the files ready, you can have them printed out instantly. Turnaround time is very short; a printing job can be completed in an hour or so, depending on the size and quantity of the project. Digital printing is also perfect when you want to customise content for the same material, such as personalised letters or greeting cards. It can easily be formatted in a computer and printed out in one go, unlike offset printing which would require creation of new plates and following the rest of the steps for modifications.
Most digital printing presses are only limited to print on a maximum size of either A3 plus or A2, and can print on labels and cards that are only up to 300 GSM thick. Cost per page is usually more expensive than that of offset, and that’s why digital presses are better for urgent, minimal quantity, short run printing jobs.
Offset and Digital Printing are different in nature, and both have strengths that specifically cater to every kind of printing project. Choosing which technology to use depends on the size, quantity, and budget for the project. If you have projects that either require a specific colour, need to be mass-produced, or need a large-scale format, go for offset printing. However, if you need to publish less than 1,000 copies of a flyer or poster immediately, or need to personalise several letters or cards with different names and addresses, then digital printing would be the perfect solution. Whatever you choose among the two prominent printing services in Singapore, you are guaranteed a high-quality product that will build your brand name and create a real-life, tangible connection with your audience.