A Print War: Digital vs. Offset Printing

By Jake Fischer |

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As a marketer new to the printing world, I joined Fidelity Offset with zero knowledge of printing technology and mediums. Offset? Digital? Lithographic? So, what- it’s all just print! Six months ago, I would have agreed with that statement. Now, as ink surrounds me in my daily life, I contest that all print is an extraordinary science that differs widely between mediums, designs, and even locations.

So, what difference does choosing the correct printer make? Keep reading to learn the strengths of each medium, the differences between the two, and which one you should use next time you order with Fidelity!

What is digital printing?

Digital printing is by and large the future of printing. As technologies improve, digital printing is revolutionizing the way printers work by expediting production to never-before-seen levels!

Most of us are probably familiar with digital printers- think along the lines of the one sitting on the desk in your office. The printers in our Nashville print shop are largely the same concept as the one in your office, only ours are just bigger, faster, and offer a higher quality print through increased precision.

Digital printing revolutionized the print market because it cut out many of the complicated and time-consuming steps of offset print, leading to an increased ROI in small print jobs, with a lower turnaround time.



- Turnaround

           Did somebody say same day? We did. Digital print is super cool because we can print in a matter of minutes, not days. So, if you forgot about that one presentation tomorrow morning, odds are digital printing is the way to go.

- Small Jobs

           If you only need fifty booklets for your executive board meeting, you probably will want to head to the digital printer. Unless that is, you’re really trying to impress an investor with the highest quality print known to man- then you should probably stick to offset. We’ll talk more about ROI soon!

- Value

           Depending on how many prints you need, digital may be the cheaper option for your company! The process of burning metal plates with offset printing takes more time and is more expensive in small quantities. Big Jobs- Offset is cost-efficient, Small Jobs- Digital saves cash.

- Mailing

           Looking to draw in customers with a direct mail campaign? Digital is the way. With our advanced capabilities, we can customize each print to include the specific name and address of every client you’re trying to reach.



- Color Options

           Side by side, there’s no comparison between digital and offset. The pure vibrancy and color associated with offset transform prints instantly. Digital prints still allow for quality, gorgeous color, but come with a slightly downgraded palette in the sense that offset printing can develop unique colors specific to the brand, something that digital does not specialize in.

- Quantity

           Trying to print multiple jobs for 500 locations nationwide? Go offset! You’re going to get a better product that creates more bang for your buck. Digital print remains at a more stable price per copy in comparison to offset which gets cheaper as additional copies are made.

- Quality

           Although digital printer technologies have continued to adapt, offset printing remains the premium-grade technology with its unmatched image sharpness and color crispness.


Best For

Small jobs that need same-day turnaround that can settle for a slightly lesser vibrance.


What is offset printing?

Call it the ‘OG’ of printing, this technology has been consistently built upon and revolutionized since its inception in 1875. Through some cool science (check out the infographic below to learn more), the highest quality of printing can be ensured for every client. For those of you out there like me probably don’t know too much about printing, this machine is quite large. Honestly, it takes up the same space as two cars, and it's about ten feet tall- probably not a machine you want in your office. Through awesome techniques like the actual burning of metal plates, offset produces prints that a digital printer could only dream of making.



- Quality > Everything 

           Printing in Nashville proves that you value quality - why not go all the way? Although nearly a century and a half old, offset printing remains determined to outpace every modern innovation in the printing industry. Fidelity Offset believes Quality > Everything.

- Color, Color, Color 

           Offset is brilliant. Brilliant colors, through a brilliant technique. See, offset doesn’t directly apply ink to paper. Strangely enough, offset applies a more even color by applying ink to rubber rollers that in turn apply the ink to metal plates. This allows for color consistency and ink vibrance. When you’re printing, color matters.

- Large Volume 

           Once you get an offset printer up and running, it becomes very cost-effective in volume. That’s why, if printing over 2,000 copies of an identical print, offset provides a superior value. The high start-up costs are due to the fact that before printing, each design must be etched into a metal plate that will in turn deliver the design onto the rollers that will then deliver the actual ink to paper.

- Print On Anything 

           From cardstock to vinyl, offset printing allows for our customers to pick their ideal material. This added flexibility is something that can only be brought on by such a massive, technical machine such as an offset printer.



- Slower turnover

           At Fidelity, we can do pretty much anything you can imagine and have it in your hands in a matter of days. So, if you’re looking for a last-minute printer who can work on a tight deadline, look no further. That being said, if it’s the eleventh hour and you’re on a crazy tight crunch, offset probably isn’t the move. Because of the intricate etching that must be done to the metal plates, more time must be taken to ensure precision in every detail. In a crunch? Go digital.

- Less personalization

           Yes, offset print can print any design under the sun, but it’s not ideal for mass mailings where customization must occur in the address section. If you’re looking to uncover new clients and leads with direct mailing, it’s probably best to look towards our digital printers!


Best For

Corporations with large print jobs or regularly placed orders, and companies looking to stand out with the highest level of print possible!

Learn more about the technique behind offset printing!

Ready to print? We are too. To get printing with Nashville’s local printer, call or email us today! Find out why marketers, advertisers, and CEO’s across Middle Tennessee and the United States trust us to deliver premier marketing materials time and time again.