While many will tout that offset printing is vastly superior in quality, I can assure you that the latest digital printers make the difference virtually negligible. Unless you're corporate identity is critical to a specific pantone color, which many digital printers today now offer, digital printing comes very close to offset.
So to simplify, this leaves two main criteria to evaluate both offset and digital printing - quantity and turnaround. Let's look at each process.
To print with offset simply means to "off-set" and image from a printing plate to the paper, a process a little more complex. Several consumables are involved making the setup a little more complex. In other words, you have to make it worth it to use this medium. In our experience one to two thousand copies is the barrier to make this difference. But once this amount is passed, cost drops significantly.
The remaining differences are more minor, but can make a difference if you have specific needs. Let's examine a few of each:
Advantages of Digital
To help you choose which type of printing best fits your requirements, here are some questions to ask a commercial printer:
1. Do you offer both digital and offset printing?
2. Which paper stocks or other materials can each print on?
3. Can you provide a sample for me to approve before printing?
4. What would the cost be for me on either process?
Questions like these will get you started. Be sure that the printer actually has the equipment to do both types of printing as he may give you biased answers. It is also possible that they will say they offer that service but sub-contract it out to a larger printer. Ask specific questions.
More than likely, the commercial printer will have more questions for you to ascertain what he is able to do for you. Provide as much detail as possible. Communication is vital to meet your expectations.