Differences Between Laser & Offset Printers

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The primary difference between laser and offset printing is the process used by the printer to transfer the ink to the paper. Laser printers apply a plastic powder to the paper and then fuse the powder to the paper with heat. Offset printing uses plates to transfer images to the paper. Both printing methods have benefits. Quality, budget and time are the criteria to use to make a decision about the type of printing you'll ultimately use.

Laser

  • With laser printing, the printer transfers the image to the paper by the action of a laser on a light sensitive drum. The drum then releases ink by electrostatic charge to the paper. A laser printer is a type of page printer, meaning the printer will print one complete page at a time. A laser printer can print both text and images. The quality of the printed output depends on the quantity of the dots used by the printer. The more dots the printer uses, the higher quality the output.

Offset Printing

  • In offset printing, the plates never touch the paper. The printer transfers images such as words or text to the plates. The printer moistens the paper with water rollers before applying ink to the paper with ink rollers. The ink and water don't directly mix, however. The ink adheres to the areas on the page that have an image, and the water adheres to the areas with no images. When the printer's press cylinders start to roll, the image is transferred to a rubber blanket. The paper passes the rubber blanket, and the offset image comes out as a printed document.

Quality and Price

  • The quality of offset printing is far superior to laser printing. Most professional printing jobs use offset printers. This type of printing is often referred to as offset lithography. Offset printing is more expensive and not suitable for small jobs unless you're willing to pay a high premium. Laser printing, on the other hand, is much cheaper and suitable for outputs from one page to thousands of pages.

Time Table

  • Speed is a critical component in the digital age. If you need 500 pages printed in several hours, laser printing is a better choice. The typical turnaround time for an offset printing job is anywhere from five to seven business day. Offset printing compensates for this extended timetable by offering a finished product of superior quality. Offset printing is ideal for high-quality print jobs where cost isn't a factor and time isn't of the essence.

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