Offset vs Digital Printing for Packaging Boxes: Best for You?

Posted July 8, 2022

When you choose custom boxes for your products, you will probably have an idea of what you want them to look like including the size, design, and more.

But have you considered the type of printing that will be used?

If you’re new to all this, you may think that the printed package will look the same as the colors on the screen. But it can never be 100% the same, which can lead to mistakes that affect the appeal of your product packaging and even impact your brand image.

Two of the most popular printing options are digital and offset printing. Here we look at both to help you decide which is best for your custom packaging.

Offset Printing

Offset printing works by transferring ink to a rubber roller from a metal plate, which is usually made from aluminum, and then applying the ink to the printing surface.

Offset printing presses were first developed back in 1875 to print onto tin surfaces, and they were later used to print onto paper. Offset printing technology has been popular ever since, and it’s now the printing method used for mass-produced items like magazines.

Image quality is excellent when using offset presses and is also a very cost-effective choice for large-volume printing.

Digital Printing

Digital printing presses are very different. This process involves taking the electronic files and converting them directly into print. The best way to think about digital printing is how your digital printer works at home or in the office, including both laserjet and inkjet printers.

It is a popular option for smaller print runs like brochures and business cards. It offers a good quality finish, but it has a lower spectrum of colors compared to offset printing.

Which Is Best for Your Business?

These printing options are both suitable for different types of printing tasks. So which is right for you? Here are several factors to consider.

Project Size

In general, offset printing is better for larger print runs because of the quality and the cost-effectiveness for large projects. This means when you are printing over 500 pieces, it will work out as more economical, and you also enjoy better colors and quality.

If you are only printing a small number of items, digital printing is an option. With offset printing, more preparation involves creating the plates and other processes. So, for price alone, digital printing is a good choice for smaller projects.

But if you want higher quality results, offset printing is a better choice no matter the size of your project.

Turnaround Times

If you need something printed very quickly, digital printing is faster. It could be a good option if turnaround times are short and you don’t have many items to print.

That’s not to say that offset printing is slow because it can still be done very quickly when you choose an experienced printing company.

Image Quality

If the image quality is essential for you, which it probably is for your custom packaging, offset printing is the best option. Quite simply, nothing beats it.

Compared to digital print, the final result is clean, the typography is distinctive, and it produces rich images and vivid colors. The level of precision cannot be matched.


If you have a small print job and a low budget, digital printing may be better. But with a large print run and tight budget, you will save money using offset printing.

You may worry about the costs of creating the plates and die, which are additional costs you don’t have with digital printing. However, some companies (like us) do not charge for these and offer them as complimentary services.

Future Printing Plans

If this is the first time you are sending out custom boxes, offset printing may be the best idea, even for smaller print runs.

Why? Because if everything goes well, you can use the same design again and scale it up as much as you need. Most of the work is done with the first run. So, if you’re planning more custom boxes in the future, offset printing is a great choice.

Types of Materials

Offset printing produces stunning results on almost any material, and it’s a very flexible printing method.

Digital printing can print on basic materials only. So, for simple ecommerce boxes, it may be an option, and digital can be used on corrugated packaging.

Often, you will want your custom boxes to stand out, and offset is much better for this. The design can be used on a vast range of materials, and it is beneficial for rigid packaging, like when you sell luxury products or gifts, to get the best possible quality.

For paperboard packaging, offset is usually best. It has a more precise printing output and vivid colors, and it’s excellent for small texts to provide clearer information and communicate more effectively with customers.

Color Depth

Offset printing has much better color depth and brightness. Offset printers can match inks perfectly, unlike digital printers. Color output is clean and crisp, just like the display packaging you see in stores. While digital also produces a high-quality finish, it’s often more suitable for simpler designs.

Choose the Best Printing Method for Your Needs

These are some of the primary considerations of offset and digital printing for your print project. When it comes to digital vs. offset printing, there are advantages to both printing methods. However, in general, we would recommend offset printing for your custom packaging.

You want your custom boxes to be as attractive as possible, stand out, and effectively convey your brand message. Offset has so many advantages over digital printing that it’s almost always the best choice.

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