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April 2009
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Copy Center
Digital vs. Offset Printing

Department of Public Safety

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Digital vs. Offset Printing

The criteria for deciding whether a job is more cost effective when produced on a digital printer vs. an offset press is changing as the quality, cost and speed of digital printers continue to improve. When the University Copy Center first started producing digital prints years ago, job quality was marginal and price limited the size of the jobs to about 1,000 double-sided sheets to be competitive with the price of offset printing. As technology improved in the last five years, cost, speed and quality have advanced to where we have increased our job size to accommodate 4,000 double sided sheets and remain price competitive with offset printing rates.

The bottom line: Digital printing is becoming cost effective and the print quality when compared to offset is negligible. In fact, on the average production job, it’s hard to tell which is which. The only factor limiting digital printing is the job size. If jobs are less than a 4,000 print run, digital printing is a quicker and cost effective solution.

As printing technology evolves, the offset presses will be necessary but they will be used for larger jobs that demand complexity and the highest print quality. The question boils down to your print need. What will the final product be used for? Looking for a quality full-color brochure with a low print run…maybe digital printing can cover this (and you’ll save time and money). Need a polished five color annual report with a large print run? Perhaps then offset may be your choice. Offset printing may have its place, but the future is bright with digital. Fortunately, University Copy Center offers both print options – ultimately matching your need to the best choice.