Perspectives on Digital Printing

sherry | December 15th, 2009 | No comments

Digital printing – a designer’s perspective

Comparing the details between digital and offset

Comparing the details between digital and offset

Lately we’ve felt at the mercy of technology when it comes to short-run digital printing. If a client doesn’t need a large quantity of pieces, digital printing is certainly the way to go. However, from a designer’s perspective, printing digital doesn’t always meet our expectations.

In efforts to manage this expectation. I recently quoted a project for a client offering 3 print method options:
1) Standard Digital (Igen)
2) High Quality Digital (HP Indigo)
3) Offset Printing (Stochastic)

Involve the client in the print quality choices available to them
The reason for presenting these 3 options was to relate the quality of the final printed piece to the differences in cost. Also I wanted the client to be involved in the choice (and I didn’t want assume the client wanted the cheapest option).

Below is the overview I gave my client. Plus, I included costs for printing 250 and 500 quantities.

Standard Digital Printing
The most economical choice. The final result looks like laser printing. The quality of the image is very good, but not great. The ink ‘sits’ on top of the page and will look shiny, whereas with the other two options below, the ink absorbs into the paper so the overall finish looks higher end and will handle better.

If your biggest objective is to meet a budget, Standard Digital is the way to go.

High Quality Digital Printing
This is one of the best digital quality prints available. The results are very similar to offset printing. If you want great quality and a reasonable cost, this option would makes the most sense for the quantities you’ve requested.

The costs quoted were approximately double of standard digital.

Offset Printing
Offers the best quality image and resolution and is therefore the highest price. If for some reason you wanted to print more than 500, this would be the way to go as the price per piece goes dramatically down.

The costs quoted were approximately triple of standard digital printing.

The result?
Having recently been impressed with a printed sample from the HP Indigo we were hopeful the client would choose this option. And they did. But the funny part is our print representative (who had quoted for both offset and high quality) offered to print the project Offset.

This was obviously to the client’s benefit (great value!) but also to our benefit as this gave us the opportunity to also do some test prints of the same artwork on the HP Indigo for comparison. We were very pleased with the quality of the HP Indigo and realized that most clients would not be able to tell the difference from traditional offset printing.

A designer’s recommendation
Now there are some limitations to digital printing, like sheet size (12 x 18 approx), and not being able to print special inks, but for most full colour print projects, I will be recommending the HP Indigo when the quality difference warrants the additional costs.

Turns out it is possible to digitally satisfy both the client’s needs for great value and a designer’s vision for great quality. Bring on the short-run digital printing – we have a great perspective!

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