Offset Printing versus Digital Printing

Uncover the differences between offset and digital printing with Mixam's in-depth comparison. Discover which is best for your project and get expert advice to ensure a successful print run.

Offset Printing

Offset printing, or lithography offset printing (litho), is a traditional print method. We ink and transfer your image from a metal printing plate to a rubber blanket to produce a sharp, clean print on paper.

However, an offset printing press has a more complex setup and takes longer to complete, as we need to prepare the metal plates before print. The process adds to the upfront cost but is a better option if you plan to print thousands or tens of thousands of a particular design.

A line of offset printers
A man adding yellow ink to an offset printer.
Offset printing preparation



Digital Printing

We only use high-end digital technology to deliver exceptional digital prints. Digital printing offers terrific value for small print runs thanks to minimal setup costs. 

Our Instant Quote Calculator knows when you need digital or offset based on the print specifications you enter. If you reach a certain quantity of prints, your quote will switch automatically from a digital press to an offset press. We usually use our digital press to fulfil your order if you print hundreds of copies.

Digital presses typically offer a faster turnaround time than offset presses. When you enter your print specifications using our calculator, it will show you which method we will use to print your items.

Read more about our book printing methods for Photo-Quality Books vs Reading Books.

A digital printing press

Digital Presses: HP Indigo vs. Canon

Our HP Indigo and Canon digital presses deliver high-end print quality, but there are slight differences in how they interpret colour.

Feature HP Indigo Canon
Colour Interpretation Vibrant and reliable colour reproduction Consistent and reliable colour reproduction
Best Use High-quality photo prints and detailed graphics Consistent large-volume prints with reliable colour
Technology Fine detail is produced by ElectroInk technology (a liquid carrier that contains electrically charged pigmented particles controlled by electrical fields for precise ink placement). Precise printing due to advanced laser technology (exposes print data onto a charged drum, attracts toner to exposed areas, and transfers the toner onto paper with heat and pressure).



Colour Variance

Digital and offset printing presses both use CMYK inks, but their technology makes them subject to colour variance.

If you test your print specifications on a single or small quantity order, we'll use a digital press; however, if you then place a larger order of the same item, please inform us and provide your order number, as we may switch to an offset press to give you the most economical, high-quality prints. Note that the press used for a single copy may not be suitable for higher quantities due to differences in digital press technologies.

Because digital printers are ultimately industrial-scale office printers, colours appear vibrant with high contrast levels. On the other hand, offset printers apply wet ink to metal plates, which are then pressed onto paper to transfer the image. If necessary, we can print in high quantities using a digital press. Please contact us to arrange this and include your full print specifications.

A side by side comparison of digital colours and printed colours.