The Differences Between Digital Printing and Offset Printing for Packaging

Digital printing is an ideal option for many businesses. It is a fast, efficient, and cost-effective way to produce hig-quality packaging. Digital printing technology has come a long way in recent years with new advancements that allow the process to deliver images with incredible color depth and clarity as well as intricate details on textured surfaces like foil or embossing. 

Offset Printing, on the other hand, is still one of the most popular methods out there, but it lacks some of the digital printing’s advanced features.

Both are two of the most common types of printing methods companies use to produce their packaging materials. Let’s take a look at how these two processes work, as well as if they are suited for custom boxes with logo, and which one is more cost-effective.

What is Digital Printing? 

Digital printing is the process of using an image as a template and applying ink to paper or fabric in order to create a print. This process has been around since the late 1980s but only became popular with commercial uses in 2007 when affordable equipment hit the market for consumers. 

The main advantage of this type of printing is that it offers the incredible color depth. Clarity, and detail on textured surfaces like foil or embossing.

The downside to digital printing lies within its inability to produce large quantities. Without some serious cost-savings. By utilizing low-resolution images. Which can cause blurry prints at times due to pixilation.

What is Offset Printing?

Offset printing is the process of printing your finished design on one or more sheets. And then transferring it to an offset plate (or plates) that will, in turn. Imprint the image onto paper. The earliest known use for this method dates back to the late 18th century. But did not become popular until after WWII. When large-scale commercial print shops emerge.

Offset printing is best use for high volume production, texture surfaces like foil or embossing, and designs. With fine lines due to its ability to produce crisp images without any pixilation from low-resolution work.

The main downside lies in its inability to produce prints in color because. It relies on CMYK colors only versus digital’s capability of utilizing a Pantone matching system with over 1000+ colors.

Digital vs. Offset Printing 

Digital printing has become the preferred choice for most marketers and designers to optimize their print production. Not only does digital offer a wider color gamut that can be utilize with Pantone matching. But it also offers an increase level of detail due to its resolution capabilities. Which are much higher than offset. 

All this is done without losing any quality in how colors appear or degrade over time. Like what typically happens with offset prints because it relies on CMYK ink as oppose to RGB (or CMYK). This makes digital perfect for branding collateral such as business cards. But not so great for other items like packaging. Where high volume and fast turnaround times are important concerns.

Types of Finishing for Packaging 

Packaging is a complex process that requires many steps in order to be complete. There are also various types of finishing that can occur during the packaging process. Depending on what type of packaging you’re going with (i.e., shrink wrapping, lamination, etc.). 

Below we have listed some common types of finishing for each different kind of package:

Shrink Wrapping: This protects your product from dirt and damage by sealing them tightly within plastic film, which then shrinks around the product as pressure builds up inside it until it becomes too hot to touch or has reached an atmospheric level of heat, causing it to seal shut completely.

Lamination: It involves using a clear coating over paper goods such as labels, brochures, books, or business cards.

Clear Coatings: This type of finishing is also used for paper goods, and the materials are either clear in color or have a frosted finish to them, depending on what you are looking for. They seal well with lamination but can be apply without it as long as they are design/made specifically for digital printing jobs.

Embossing: A process that creates an impression from one sheet onto another by pressing both sheets together so the ink gets transferred from the top surface to the bottom surface, adding depth and texture to your design while making items more tactile than flat printed products, which helps people remember where they saw something before (i.e., logos).

Hot Stamping: This is where background images or text are heated and pressed onto the paper’s surface, card stock, plastic sheets with printing inks such as letterpress and thermography. 

Offset prints have more detail than digital prints, making them better for photographs because they can precisely capture colors. In contrast, digital printers do not work very well on photos. When it comes down to minute details like skin tones. But if you want something bright and bold, then offset will do just fine. 

Which Has the Best Color Depth for Packaging Printing? 

Offset prints are much better for packaging because they can be crisper and more colorful. Whereas digital printing is use best on white or light-color cardboards. It would be best to consider both as per your requirement.

Offset prints require large amounts of ink while digital printers are useless. So in terms of costs, you might want to opt for offset. If you are willing to spend just that extra amount on getting better quality product printed. As well as more quantities being produced at one time too. 


If you are after the best-looking packaging, then offset printing is your answer. You can get more colors and a nice finish to stand out from other products on the shelves.

Digital printing might be cheaper, but if you want to add some color or maybe just needs a few boxes for your company. Then this type of print may work well for you as long as. They are not mass-produce in large quantities because digital printers use less ink. Hence, they end up being much cheaper per unit cost-wise. 

Go for online packaging services that produce vibrant results for your packaging no matter what you use. Thanks for reading! 

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