Offset Printing (vs. Digital Printing), Types, Machines, Advantages, Disadvantages

Offset printing, which is commonly referred to as lithography, is one of the good employed printing methods that enables the production of top-notch printed materials. In this technique, ink is transferred from a metal plate to a rubber blanket. Subsequently, onto the printing surface. The term “offset” signifies that the ink isn’t directly applied onto the paper or substrate but instead goes through a surface before being applied.

Offset Printing Process

CTP Plate Preparation

The first step in the printing process is to transfer the desired image onto a metal plate. This is typically accomplished using either a method or computer to plate technology. 

To ensure ink distribution specific areas that need to attract ink are made water-repellent (hydrophobic) while the parts that do not form the image are made water-attracting (hydrophilic).

Inking the CTP Plate

The plate is moistened with water. Then ink is applied to the areas containing the image. The ink sticks to the image areas while the non-image areas repel the ink because of the water film.

Transfer to the Blanket

Afterwards the inked image, on the CTP plate is moved onto a rubber blanket. The blanket adjusts itself to match the surface of the material being printed on.

Transfer to the Substrate

Lastly, the image that you want to print is transferred from the blanket to paper or another printing surface. This indirect transfer method helps to ensure a clear image.

Offset Printing Sheet
Offset Printing Sheet

Offset printing can be categorized into types depending on variations, in the printing process or equipment employed. Some known forms of printing comprise;

Sheet-fed Offset Printing

In printing using sheet-fed machines, paper sheets are loaded into the printing press individually one, at a time. This method is mostly ideal for doing print with quantities. This method offers great versatility in terms of paper dimensions and varieties.

Sheet-fed Offset Printing

Web Offset Printing

In web offset printing the printing press feeds a roll of paper. This type of technique is mostly used for printing newspapers, magazines, and catalogues in quantities. It is faster and runs at less cost for extensive print jobs.

Web Offset Printing

Coldset Printing

Coldset printing or non-heatset printing is a method of web offset printing that enables the ink to dry naturally by being absorbed into the paper. This special type of offset printing is frequently used for newspaper production.

Heatset Printing

Heatset printing is a type of web offset printing where the ink gets dried using air force. This results in drying times making it ideal for producing high-quality color prints on coated papers, like magazines.

UV Offset Printing

UV offset printing utilizes ultraviolet (UV) light to cure or dry the ink enabling the printing, on substrates and delivering vivid colors. Verily this method is commonly employed for premium applications and packaging purposes.

UV Offset Printing

Waterless Offset Printing

Waterless offset printing is a method that eliminates the requirement for dampening solutions through the utilization of a printing plate coated with silicone. It is good enough for the production of images to reduce waste and have an impact on the environment.

Waterless or Ecofriendly Offset Printing

Variable Data Offset Printing

Variable data offset printing involves integrating content like customized text or images into the printing procedure. This is frequently seen in the creation of mail-personalized marketing materials and transactional documents.

Offset printing and digital printing are two types of printing methods each having their unique features and benefits. Let’s take a look at some variations, between offset printing and digital printing;

Offset Printing: It includes the transfer of ink, from a metal plate onto a rubber blanket and onto the printing surface typically paper. This method employs a four-color (CMYK) ink system working on the concept of oil and water repulsion.

Digital Printing: It includes the process of printing files onto the print material. Digital printers utilize either toner or inkjet technology to transfer the image onto the surface eliminating the requirement for plates.

Offset Printing: Setting up the printing process usually takes a bit longer. First, we have to create the plates and make adjustments to the press before we can start the printing. This method works better for large print runs because although setup takes time it is balanced out by the number of prints produced.

Digital Printing: The setup time for this printer is shorter because there is no need to create plates. You can directly send files to the printer, which makes it perfect for print jobs and on-demand printing.

Offset Printing: Although offset printing is often more affordable for quantities because of the cost per unit it becomes less economically viable for smaller print runs due to the higher initial setup expenses.

Digital Printing: Short print runs are often considered cost-effective since they don’t require plate creation or setup. However when it comes to print runs the cost per unit may be higher than that of offset printing.

Offset Printing: It is popular for generating prints that display consistent images. Its ability to achieve color matching is enhanced by the utilization of Pantone colors and a diverse selection of paper options.

Digital Printing: Although digital printing technology has made advancements there are still arguments suggesting that offset printing maintains an advantage when it comes to color accuracy and intricate details, particularly for specific types of projects.

Offset Printing: Variable data printing is not suitable, in that situations where individual printed pieces require information.

Digital Printing: It is highly proficient, in the field of variable data printing, enabling effortless customization of every printed item through the inclusion of text, images, or other variable components.

Offset Printing: It has the capacity to handle types and thicknesses of paper including speciality papers and cardstocks.

Digital Printing: Although there has been an increase in the range of materials that can be used, offset printing still provides flexibility when it comes to the kinds of paper stocks that can be utilized.

Every printing machine that we are going to mention has its own specifications. While serving for specific purposes, within the field of offset printing. Let me provide you with an overview of each one;

Solna 125 Plus

The Solna 125 Plus is a printing press that uses sheets of paper and offset technology. It is specifically built for printing on a medium scale. The “Plus” in its name implies that it offers features or enhancements compared to the Solna 125 model. Also has the ability to handle paper sizes. Produce excellent print quality. Solna 125 Plus main applications include printing magazines, catalogs, brochures, and other materials used for purposes.

Solna 125 Plus
Solna 125 Plus

Roland 28*40 and 25*38

The mention of “28*40” and “28*38” probably refers to the sheet size that these Roland offset printing presses can accommodate. The type of machines belong to the Roland 700 series, which is known for their automatic features with fast printing speeds, and precise output. While it is important for the printing industry who want to handle large-scale printing tasks. Have the capability to process various types of materials. In the end, these printers find applications in producing packaging materials, promotional items, and publications of quality.


Half Rota or Rota

“Half Rota” and “Rota” are likely terms used in the printing industry to describe web offset printing presses. Web offset presses differ from presses as they use rolls of paper or individual sheets. Specially, used for high-volume printing purposes such as newspapers, magazines, and catalogues. The term “Rota” may indicate a full-scale web offset press while “Half Rota” could potentially refer to a smaller version of the same press. And also maintaining consistent quality.

GTO (Heidelberg GTO)

The Heidelberg GTO (Goss Toyoda Original) is widely recognized as a favored choice, among sheet-fed offset printing presses. Renowned for its dependability, flexibility, and user-friendly interface the GTO series encompasses models that are commonly used for short prints. However, this is good for fulfilling the needs of commercial items such as business cards, letterheads, and smaller-scale publications.


Offset printing offers lots of benefits for high-quality prints that are cost-effective, for print quantities, and can be used for qualitative material making. As you know, a good quality of images is crucial for qualitative work like for magazines, brochures, and packaging. As the print volume increases the unit cost decreases making it an economical choice for large-scale production. 

Moreover, offset printing enables color control through Pantone color matching ensuring brand consistency. When using it, you have many options available in inks and a wide variety of paper options offering flexibility to printers and designers, in their decisions.

Nevertheless, there are drawbacks associated with printing, specifically the extended setup time and higher initial expenses. Creating printing plates. Making press adjustments demands time and resources rendering it less efficient, for short print runs or on-demand printing needs. 

Furthermore during the setup and make-ready process offset printing tends to generate waste. While advancements in the technology world have reduced the gap between offset and digital printing regarding setup time and cost, offset printing remains the option for high-volume print jobs that require quality and color precision.