Offset versus digital toner-based printing have been two primary contenders in commercial printing. Generally speaking, offset is faster, can print on larger sheets and more substrates (materials, types of paper), and is geared toward high-quantity jobs (10,000 pieces+). Toner-based digital is preferred for 500-10,000 because there isn’t a substantial make-ready charge and the technology enables variable data/image printing (e.g., use of different images on bottles of beer all accomplished in one run).
Now, there’s a new contender that combines the speed, sheet size and substrate options of offset with variable data/image and zero make-ready of toner digital. It’s called inkjet. Yep, the preferred printer in many homes and offices is now coming to the full-blown commercial marketplace.
According to a February 2015 marconet.com blogpost, “The primary difference to keep in mind when comparing offset presses vs. laser printers vs. inkjet devices is the technology used in each to produce quality prints. Inkjet printers spray ink onto the page through a set of tiny nozzles, creating microscopic dots on the page in the process. Laser printers use high heat to fuse toner to the paper. And finally, offset presses apply ink to large metal plates, which transfers the image to the paper…At the production print level, where high volume prints need to be produced, each technology has a place.”
The post continues, “According to the National Association for Printing Leadership, inkjet presses are currently ideal options for business involved in the production of publications, direct mailers and other transactional prints. And, in order for an industrial inkjet press to remain cost effective, print projects quantities need to fall between 500 and 10,000 sheets. When these qualifications are met, along with the desire or need to personalize the prints to recipients, industrial inkjet technology is a perfect solution. For example, if an automotive dealer wanted to send a postcard to all of its customers announcing new inventory, there are a number of ways it could create a more personalized announcement through industrial inkjet printing. Based on the data they have on their customers, they could send a postcard that is unique to each data set, i.e. age, gender, previous purchase model, previous purchase color, time lapsed since previous purchase and so on.”
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