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Digital vs. Offset: Checklist
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- Quantity
Offset printing has a front-end cost load, which means short runs (low quantities) may have a high per-unit cost. But as quantities increase, the unit cost goes down with offset printing. Very short runs can be more cost effective with digital printing; while larger quantities are likely to have a lower unit cost with offset printing.

- Printing Medium
Do you need or want a special paper, finish or unusual printing surface, or unique size? The options are getting better for digital, but offset printing still offers the most flexibility.

- Colour
Digital presses use four-colour process (CMYK) printing. If you need only black ink or one or two ink colors, offset printing may offer a more cost-effective solution. If you need four-color printing, digital may offer advantages in lower up-front costs.

- Pantone®
If you're planning to print using the Pantone® Matching System, offset printing will give you the best match, since it uses actual Pantone® ink. Digital printing simulates the color using a four-color matching process, so some digital printers may offer less accurate color matching on projects.

- Turnaround
If you need it fast, digital usually offers quicker delivery.

- Proofing
Digital 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. For offset printing, if you need hard proofs, stringently accurate colour proofing can become expensive.

- Customization
With the ease of database driven variable data printing, digital printing offers the most affordable way to customize marketing materials, direct mail pieces, letters, etc. with a different name/address or number/code on each printed piece.

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Alliance Graphics, Inc., Print Media Solutions 2012