What's the Difference Between Digital Print for Packaging and Conventional

March 27, 2018 by Erin Behan

When it comes to packaging, and terms like digital printing or conventional printing get thrown around, you might stop, scratch your head and think, "What's the difference?" or "What does it mean for me?" We've got all the information you need to understand the package printing process and what type of printing might be right for you or your business' needs.

Folding Cartons digital printing

Offset Printing
Offset printing is probably what you think of when you picture a print shop with huge machines and giant rollers whirring along, stamping out designs. The offset printing process uses metal plates, but the ink doesn't go directly from plate to paper. Instead, the ink is transferred (or offset) from the plates to a rubber blanket and then to the printing surface, be it paper, a box, label or something else entirely.
Offset printing pros: Offset printing delivers crisp imagery and cost-savings for extra-large print runs.
Offset printing cons: Initial set-up fees can be high as you have to buy the plates and producing those plates can take time.

Digital Printing
Instead of relying on plates, digital printing works much like the printer in your home or office, using toner or liquid ink. Traditionally it's been used for shorter print runs or for customers who need limited variable printing where multiple versions of a design are printed (perhaps printed with varying codes, colors, or other small variations). As digital printing technology has advanced, along with the quality of its output, it has risen in popularity. Digital printing works on paper, plastic, cardboard and even less common applications like tiles.

Gift Boxes Digital Printing

Digital printing pros: Digital printing is ideal for smaller print runs as there's no initial set-up fees. Printing can be done quickly as there are no plates to produce, allowing for quick turnaround time. There’s no extra charge for multiple colors. The flexibility inherent in digital printing allows a customer to change or update a design with little consequence.
Digital printing cons: For those printing a large volume at a consistent pace, digital printing may be more expensive. Digital printing may not reproduce colors or fine detail with the same clarity or crispness as offset printing.

Digital Print for Packaging at Distinct Packaging
Distinct Packaging uses digital printing technologies, which allow us to offer our customers almost unlimited customization on their packaging, including printing on the inside and outside of most boxes, and the ability to print unlimited color at no extra cost. Special requests for custom design features, such as a adding a window, are easily accommodated.

At Distinct Packaging you can print just a single box or however many thousand you need. All proofing is done via a 3-D tool, eliminating the need for multiple proofing files. Since there's no need for plates or other set-up considerations, Distinct Packaging guarantees your order will ship within 10 days of being received. Read more about how one customer made the switch from offset package printing to digital printing and couldn’t be happier.

For the Best Printing Results With Distinct Packaging
To get the best results on your package design, follow these tips:
1. Format logos and graphics to at least 300 dpi (dots per inch), with transparent backgrounds.
2. Make text at least 10 points.
3. Use bold text, especially if using script or italic fonts.
4. Embed all fonts in the file.
5. Make strokes or lines 2 points or greater.
6. Avoid fancy line art or detailing.
7. Upload your artwork or images in CMYK.

To get started on a custom mailer, shipping box, or pizza box, visit Distinct Packaging, where you'll also find gift boxes ready to be customized in a variety of shapes and sizes. Beverage carriers and coasters are now part of the Distinct Packaging family.
Erin Behan

Written by Erin Behan

Erin Behan is an L.A.-based writer and editor who considers fine paper one of life's little pleasures.

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