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4405 East West Highway Suite 308
Bethesda, MD 20814


Washington Graphic Services is a Washington DC area Graphic Design Communications Company. We specialize in the design and development of marketing materials, brochures, annual reports, logos, customized graphics, web sites and website maintenance, ecommerce solutions, custom web applications, content management websites and branding.




What is the Difference in Printing? Offset vs Digital

john mier

Washington Graphic Services rely on both offset and digital printing to produce high quality work for our clients. Having the option allows us tremendous flexibility and each method offers great advantages. When we are asked what method of printing is better our answer is always,“It depends: on quantity, size, paper and turnaround time” When it comes to offset vs. digital, there is a time and a place for everything.

Offset printing produces the highest possible printing quality. The desired image is burned to a plate and then transferred from the plate to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface. The process is based on the repulsion of oil and water in that the image to be printed gets ink from ink rollers and the non-printing area attracts a film of water, keeping those areas ink-free.

Digital printing doesn’t use plates. It uses digital technology to apply ink in a single pass from a single ink head. Think of the digital press as a bigger, more expensive version of your common inkjet printer.

Why Digital?

Quicker turnaround

Low cost for smaller print runs

Low set up costs

Ability to customize using variable data printing (database driven, one-to-one marketing)

Why Offset?

Higher resolution, much better quality

As quantity goes up, unit price goes down

Custom inks and finishes (spot UV coatings, varnishes, metallic inks) are available.

Computer-to-plate technology further increases quality

Custom shapes, dye cuts and printing techniques

Large variety of paper and size choices (almost unlimited)

Now, here are some “real life” scenarios to consider:

Need: You want 75 programs printed for the company golf scramble and you need them tomorrow.

Solution: Digital printing.

Need: As Brand Manager for a telecommunications company you need to print business cards for all employees. You are very particular about your corporate brand and colors.

Solution: Offset printing will offer the most accurate representation of your Pantone colors.

Need: You are a realtor advertising new listings and want your direct mail post cards to be customized for each recipient with varying property images and a personalized salutation.

Solution: Burning plates for each version would cost a fortune. You need the benefit of no plates and low set ups offered by digital printing.

As much as it helps to understand which printing method fits the situation, the good news is you have us to help make the call for you. Whatever your quantity, turnaround, or requirements, Washington Graphic can help decide the most cost effective, efficient, and quality way to produce your job.

John Mier