Combining Offset & Digital Printing for Personalization

Choosing between offset and digital printing can sometimes pose a dilemma.

Combining Offset & Digital Printing for Personalization

Offset printing is more cost-effective for bigger print jobs — substantially so for large runs — but digital printing gives you the ability to customize and personalize each piece for its intended recipient.

What if you didn’t have to choose? When you combine digital and offset printing for the same job, you can have the best of both worlds.

When Does Combining Offset & Digital Printing Processes Make Sense?

Combining these processes will save you time and money for many types of printing projects — although not all.

For example, if you have marketing pieces — catalogs, brochures, one sheets, etc. — that you use regularly, we would likely recommend that you print them in large runs using offset printing.

However, if you’re planning a large direct mail campaign and want to personalize each one for the recipient, you might (rightly) assume you have to use digital printing technology for variable data printing.

What you should consider is having your catalog or brochure printed on the offset press and then running whichever component you want personalized through the digital press. You will get the price and quality of offset but still have the ability to personalize each piece you send out.

The Logistics of Combining Digital & Offset Printing

How you want to combine digital and offset is up to you, but you have lots of options.

The traditional approach is to design your catalog or brochure in such a way that you leave a blank or open area on the front or back cover and use that for adding the recipient’s name and address. These non-personalized versions are knowns as blanks or shells.

When you have your list of direct mail recipients, your printing company will enter the data into the digital printer and load the shells. The digital press will print directly onto the shells to add personalization.

You aren’t limited to this approach, however. You can create any type of blank you want, and then add personalization on any page (or all pages, if you like). This will produce a much more sophisticated result that will make an impact on your recipients.

Design Your Offset Printing Project with Digital in Mind

Before you set out to design the artwork for your combined print job, give your printing company a call to discuss the technical specs of your blank.

When the blank feeds through the digital press, it will be exposed to high temperatures. Some papers and inks used in offset printing may not stand up to those rigors. Metallic inks, for example, will flake away. You will also have to be careful with the paper or card stock you select, to ensure it will feed well through the digital printing equipment.

One final question to ask is whether you can overprint the shell with digital printing. In other words, if you want your variable data to print on a portion of the sheet that already has ink from the offset press, will that information show up and be readable?

Follow your printer’s advice on these issues so you won’t have to worry about

problems down the road.

Sun Print Solutions, serving customers in Utah and throughout the United States, has the professional printing solutions you need for your business or organization. Contact us today to learn more about how combining offset and digital printing can work for you.

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