If you have a basic understanding of printing, you might know that there are 2 ways to print text and image on paper. Inkjet printing, and offset printing. Both of these techniques have the same result, but a completely different way of putting ink on paper. In this blog, we’ll explain how each printing technique works, the difference between the 2, and why here at The Mailworks we benefit from utilizing inkjet printing technology throughout our 80,000 square foot facility.

What is offset printing

Skeleton diagram of an offset printer showing how paper moves through each plate and applies cyan, magenta, yellow and black ink through each plate.

Offset printing uses flat plates to print on paper. With this form of printing, ink is transferred to a plate, and then placed onto the paper like a large stamp. When applying ink to the plate, water and oil is used to repel ink from the non image area, and attract the oil based ink to its proper place on the plate. From there, the plate is rolled over the piece of paper. And viola, you have ink on paper.

What is inkjet printing

A diagram of an ink nozzle putting droplets of ink onto paper to visualize the technology of inkjet printing.
Source: Costal Creative

Inkjet printing applies tiny droplets of CMYK onto the paper to create the overall text and image onto a page. It achieves this by reading the digital file and spraying tiny droplets of ink through the ink nozzles. The three basic parts needed to achieve inkjet printing are the ink cartridge with tiny ink guns used to dispense the ink onto the paper. A flexible ribbon cable moves the ink cartridge over the page, and plastic gears to guide the piece of paper through the printer. 

Inkjet vs Offset

Inkjet and Offset printing are both great ways to print, but there are things to consider when looking at a final outcome for a print job. Offset printing can have great quality and can print on a variety of materials. The prepress and setup time takes longer depending on the complexity of a print job. This results in print jobs having a longer turnaround time, with good quality.

As technology advances, so do the capabilities of digital inkjet printing. With this form of printing, it takes less time to set up a print job resulting in a shorter turnaround time and a more cost effective choice. Due to the method of ink application, there are more customization options when it comes to artwork. Inkjet printing also stays at the same price point no matter the type of print job. Offset will vary based on different factors such as quantity and different plates required.

Why we use Inkjet printing

a close up of a printed proof on a table. 2 hands pointing at a certain piece of text on the page.

Here are a few reasons why The Mailworks utilizes digital inkjet printing. Our first one being it is the most cost effective choice for us and our customers. With less set up and quicker turnaround times, mail leaves our facility at the lowest possible cost. In the print industry, misprints and mistakes are bound to happen. With inkjet printing, it’s a lot less tedious to catch and address these kinds of mistakes after a job has been sent to print. Our printers can also perform well on different paper stocks, giving our customers options to create the direct mail piece of their dreams. Digital inkjet printing also allows for variable data printing which is essential for direct mail personalization and reach. The list goes on and on.

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At The Mailworks, it’s our job to make yours easier. The way we print, produce and distribute mail will have you reaching the right people at the right time. Learn more about how we work here and get on our calendar! We’d love to hear from you.