Offset or digital printing?

Polyvalent machines, with several printing technologies integrated, make the difference in an increasingly demanding market

Digital printing has traditionally been considered appropriate for short print run, urgent and/or customised orders; whereas offset offers greater printing quality is much more economic in long print runs and allows greater variety in inks and substrates.

However, market demands are changing, so printing press manufacturers must advance with innovative proposals which provide added value and optimise customers’ investment.

Until a few years back, each printing press was specialised for a product type associated with a specific printing system and certain finishes. Today, however, versatility is what enables it to be competitive, so machines have to incorporate different technologies and enable combinations which best adapt to the end customer’s needs.

Adapting to market demands

The main factors influencing the printing industry evolution are:

  • Shorter print runs.
  • Lower minimum quantities.
  • Customisation.
  • Immediate printing.

The impact of Internet and online interaction between companies and customers are completely changing commercial relationships. Lockdown measures due to the Covid‑19 pandemic have accelerated a trend already in the consolidation phase, which of course also affects the traditional printing segment. Customer demand has increased in relation to speed, relevance and degree of information interactivity likewise process sustainability.

Versatility of the machinery and quality of the works are what mark the difference in the labelling and flexible packaging sector. The new generation offset presses are highly accurate devices, thanks to the non-stop information exchange with the manufacturers’ service departments. This monitorization optimises idle times to the maximum enabling the anticipation of possible technical problems.

Offset will continue to be the dominant technology in the high consumption sectors like the food and pharmaceutical, since high speed long print runs will still be necessary; whereas digital printing is gaining market quota due to the increase in short print runs and immediate delivery works.

Digital offset presses?

The fusion of both technologies is already a reality. There are digital offset presses combining speed and digital customisation capacity with high quality printing and a wide range of colours and offset formats, without using plates or having to change cassettes or sleeves.

Moreover, with the new highly automated offset presses, plate changes are much quicker enabling frequent task change; and as such the profitable production of short print runs. In addition, they significatively reduce waste production, affecting not only environment care but also the profitability of the operations.

Cutting-edge Rotatek offset presses

Rotatek offset presses respond to today’s printing needs thanks to the integration of the most efficient technologies in response to market demands.

  • Brava 450 combines rotary and semi-rotary systems to print labels and filmic materials providing multiple in-line process combinations in a single operation.
  • Universal 520/680, thanks to its modular structure and lightweight exchangeable sleeve technology, facilitates feed changes to print flexible packaging and other kinds of materials. Maximum profitability is guaranteed in both long and short print runs.

Offset and digital printing differences and applications will continue to exist although in line with market demands, furthermore, the most competitive solutions are going to optimise costs and diversity works via the integration of different technologies.