Digital and Offset Printing
There are several choices available to handle your commercial printing needs. Two popular options are offset and digital printing. Which one fits your project best depends on several factors.

Offset Print Production

A rubber surface called a “blanket” is where aluminum sheets transfer ink. Next, rollers use wet ink to transfer the image from the blanket onto paper. This is referred to as “offset printing” because the printing is indirectly transferred from the rubber surface to paper. After the press is set up, the process is very efficient. This makes offset print printing is an excellent choice for large-run print projects.

Offset printing produces steady, high-quality results. The rubber blanket mirrors the texture of the surface and delivers sharp, crisp images. In addition, the printing plates are easy to produce. The thin aluminum plates that attach to the plate cylinder are more common than plastic or paper constructed plates used mostly in the past. Aluminum plates also tend to last longer and are more accurate in printing images on a variety of surfaces. This is good to know when considering ordering an offset print job.

Production time for offset may be around two to three weeks due to the setup. Adjusting the printing plates, sequencing the pages, and proofreading takes some time. Printing occurs fast though. Delays usually are due to waiting for proof approvals. Therefore, quick proof approvals can drastically reduce production time.

Offset Print Considerations

The more you print, the more you save because in some instances, a per-piece price break is given after your order reaches a certain quantity. For example, if after an initial run, you need to print an extra 1,000 or more pieces, the price per piece could be reduced. This discount can make a huge difference on print jobs that use color.

Select Offset When You Require:

  • Cold set ink printing
  • Cost-effective, fast printing on a large print job of 250 pieces or more
  • Heat set ink printing
  • Highest quality printing in colors that are next to each other and sharp image detail printing
  • NCR (multiple-part forms)
  • Paper stock variety
  • Printing on envelopes with windows
  • Quick dry ink printing
  • Special paper sizes unavailable with digital printing
  • Specific Pantone colors for branding and exact color reproduction
  • Use of specialty inks including fluorescent and metallic inks
  • Wider range of custom paper options

Variety of Coatings Are Available for Offset and Digital Print Projects


The aqueous coating dries fast as a matte or gloss. The clear, water-based coating is used to counteract fingerprint smudges.

Aqueous coatings are effective in protecting:

  • Business cards
  • Brochures
  • Catalog covers
  • Folders for presentations
  • Postcards

Soft Touch® Coating

When you see printed pieces that feel like velvet, it is most likely an example of a Soft Touch® Coating. Compared to UV or aqueous, Soft Touch® is the softest. Use it when an elegant look is what you are aiming to achieve. This coating is also friendly to the environment, resists fingerprints, and dries quickly.

Ultraviolet Light (UV) Coating

If your project requires the highest gloss available, a UV coating is a finish to strongly consider.

UV coatings are suitable for:

  • Logos
  • Photographs

When considering UV coatings, there are a couple of things of which you should be aware. For one, the UV coating process requires certain types of inks specially made for the UV printing application process. Foil stamping is not possible on UV coatings. If you want your product embossed, it must be done separately and after the UV coating has been applied.


A varnish finish adds protection to a complete page or section. Matte, satin, or gloss is available. A spot varnish application can be used to bring attention to a logo or other type of artwork on a piece. Varnishes are weighty compared to most other finishes. To obtain a particular look, a varnish finish will make a piece stand out.

Exceptions to Using a Coating

We recommend coatings on most projects, however, there are certain situations where you will want to bypass on adding a coating.

  • The inside of greeting cards if you plan on handwriting an inscription there
  • When you or your intended recipient needs to write on the paper

If you’re ever unsure, just ask us. You can also request a printed sample before making a final decision on a coating selection.

Digital Print Process

No plates are used in digital print jobs. Rather, digital printers that require toner or ink print at high-speed or high-volume. Professional printing ensures quality remains high, yet efficient. You will provide us with computer-generated graphics files and digital images using your desktop publishing software.

Small quantity projects work best with the digital print option. Additionally, when specifics vary by piece, digital is your best choice for affordability.

Select Digital When You Require:

  • A print job with less than 250 pieces
  • Close color matching but not a specific Pantone color
  • Envelope printing without windows
  • Fast turnaround and delivery
  • Low quantity with a large number of pages per item
  • Lower setup costs than the offset print option
  • Personalized messages unique to each piece
  • Simple black and white printing
  • Targeted campaigns
  • Variable data printing, such as names, addresses along with unique coupon codes for each piece

Digital Printing Allows You to Explore Your Creativity without Busting Your Budget

Digital print processes are economically priced. What’s more, it features on-demand printing so that you can avoide ordering excess inventory. Colors are exceptionally vibrant due to the advancements in technology. You can test ideas on a smaller scale than with offset.

With digital, you just print what you need. Later on, you can move to offset if your ultimate goal is to produce larger quantities. But keep in mind, if your projects require personalization for each piece, digital print is the way to go. You have the option of ordering both small and large digital print jobs.

Digital is great for testing:

  • Full-bleed envelope printing
  • White ink printing
  • Variety of surface printing such as unusual paper, different surfaces

Common Projects Suitable for Digital Print Projects Include:

  • Advertising Rack Cards
  • Banners
  • Booklets
  • Brochures
  • Buck Slips (miniature flyers/inserts)
  • Business Cards
  • Catalogs
  • CD/DVD Covers
  • Company Announcements
  • Envelopes in a variety of sizes (no windows
  • Flyers
  • Greeting Cards
  • Invitations for Birthdays, Weddings
  • Letterhead
  • Newsletters
  • Postcards
  • Posters
  • Presentation Books
  • Restaurant Menus
  • Shipping Mailers
  • Signs

Determining if offset or digital works best for you will take some consideration because every project is different. We value your uniqueness and want you to continue to shine for your customers. Our philosophy is one where customer service is a culture. To that end, we thrive in a fast-paced environment.

Our Equipment is Technology Advanced

We are dedicated to providing stellar customer service, but we also realize that it means nothing if our equipment is not state-of-the-art. The end product matters. Every project counts whether small or large.

Offset or Digital? Our experts are ready to assist you in making an informed decision based on the goals you have set for your project. We have four print shop locations strategically placed around the nation. For convenience and ease, place your order online. For a free quote contact DocuMart today.