Quality in digital printing – what is important?

Digital printing vs. offset

Digital printing vs. offset The quality differences between online printers are – quite surprisingly – still huge. For example, printing techniques (e.g., digital printing vs. offset printing) and printing machines (e.g., HP Indigo 10000 or old machines) are used.

But the software used to automate all processes (for example, OneFlow Systems) also plays an important role. In practice, the selection of the right paper, the correct format for the print data (for example valid PDF), the correct color space (for example CMYK) and, of course, the accuracy of the artwork are also very important.


That’s why we’re giving you 5 facts and 3 tips for better print quality this week. To ensure that important business stationery such as business cards, flyers, brochures or calendars succeed every time as planned and impress customers in the long term. In addition, we provide insights on which presses known online printers implement the digital printing. We also highlight the technical features and peculiarities of important processes in digital printing.

1. The old rivals digital printing and offset printing …

Sure, even today, much is still printed in offset. However, this is no longer due to the previously superior print quality of offset processes, but simply because certain projects (eg very high volumes of identical products) can still be realized more cost-effectively in offset printing.

However, the triumph of digital printing is unstoppable. On the one hand, this is ensured by the numerous advantages that digital printing already brings with it today. However, the ongoing innovations in quality and cost-effectiveness (such as ink and other consumables, electricity) are also very important. The more economical the print becomes, the higher print runs are possible in the future. Recommended online printers with modern printing presses will soon make up ground in this area compared to the rivals from offset printing.

Fact 1: The smaller the circulation and the more individual, the better digital printing works. The higher and more uniform the circulation, the sooner offset printing pays off.

2. Only digital printing allows personalization from edition 1

Digital printing, for example, has a clear advantage in small runs of less than 1,000 copies – both in terms of cost and speed. High quality digital printing is already unrivaled among customers with individually printed products (eg personalized book) and other individual pieces (eg business cards with unique front pages). For such projects, digital printing pays off as early as edition 1. The positive image of modern digital printing is rounded off by good environmental friendliness (eg print-on-demand) and a surprising print quality even for “old hands”: opaque, brilliant, high-contrast.


In digital printing, the print data (e.g., PDF) is variable, unlike offset printing (e.g., exposition necessary). Therefore, the data – before, during and after digital printing – can be edited and manipulated again and again. For this reason, digital printing dominates areas such as direct marketing, the market for personalized prints and individually printed products. So it’s almost always worth considering whether digital printing is the right method for the upcoming project (e.g., advertising campaign, product line).

Fact 2: For personalized, custom, and print-finished products, promotional materials, and other similar requirements, digital printing is the optimal solution today.

3. Opaque photos and brilliant colors: modern printing machines make it

Digital images can be great, but they are digital and not touchable.

Even today, the printing industry has to face the biggest challenges: photos and colors! For a long time, classic offset printing and its reliability in color reproduction were the benchmark for print quality. Meanwhile, especially with small editions, digital printing is becoming increasingly common. Thanks to modern printing presses, brilliant digital colors and perfectly covering photo prints are becoming more and more successful in digital workflows. In addition, color reproduction can be checked quickly in digital printing and it can also be optimized during the ongoing process.

Printer manufacturer HP offers high print quality and efficient workflow with large presses (such as the HP Indigo range), continuous innovation (such as inks), and clever software connectivity (such as control, automation). HP also enables private users to enjoy high-quality digital printing in short runs – without having to purchase the correspondingly expensive printing machines themselves.

Fact 3: When an online printing company prints with the latest digital printing technology, you do not have to worry about the safe color reproduction, the brilliance of the colors and the opacity of photo prints.

4. Fonts, black, negative writing and other subtleties

Small font sizes (e.g., on business cards) and negative writing (e.g., white on a black background) have long been a proven strength of offset printing. Digital printing simply could not keep up in these areasthis is no longer the case today as the resolutions of state-of-the-art digital printing presses today correspond to the resolutions of offset printing plates (for example, 2400 dpi).


An even more critical touchstone for print quality, by the way, are very small font sizes that should be digitally printed in color or even gray. Outdated digital printing machines had no chance.

The situation is quite different with modern printing presses (for example from HP): printing does not fray anything, the font does not appear too bold and negative fonts do not bleed, making readability difficult. Even with a well-known offset “problem case” – the pressure of really saturated black – digital printing now knows advice. Fast-drying inks, which are applied very thinly, prevent the pigments from penetrating too deeply into the paper (e.g., rough-surface natural paper).

Black is actually black on digital presses of the latest generation – and not just a muddy dark gray!

Fact 4: High DPI = high print quality. The basic requirement is state-of-the-art digital printing machines with high resolution in DPI (dots per inch) and, of course, a print file with correspondingly high resolution.

5. Automation Software: Sophisticated solutions save time and money

Quality in digital printing no longer depends only on the hardware, of the printing presses. The automation of processes in digital printing also is becoming increasingly important, as sophisticated solutions in this area save time and money for both the customer and the printer. The more an online print shop automates its internal processes, the cheaper, more efficient and faster it can handle external print jobs.

An example from the field. At Schätzl print emotion, we have been successfully using a combination of high-end digital presses from HP and automation software from OneFlow Systems for some time to automate our customer projects. Thereby we combine efficient, fast processing of printing projects with high HP printing quality.

Incidentally, there are already several hundred print service providers worldwide who automate using OneFlow. Interestingly, there are only two users of this powerful combination solution in Germany so far. Of course, we are happy to pass on the positive effects of this lead on print quality and printing technology to our customers (eg agencies, publishers, corporate clients).

Fact 5: The more an online print shop automates its processes, the cheaper, more efficient and faster it can handle print jobs.

Tips for better print quality

1. Quality of printing presses: the best online printers invest a lot

The printing process itself – classic offset printing or modern digital printing – does not necessarily say much about the final print quality. What matters is how modern and also high-quality the printing presses are that are used. And how often the machinery is updated and improved.

This is especially true for providers specializing in digital printing, because there is continuous innovation in the area of ​​digital printing – while the potential for improvement in offset printing has largely been exhausted.

Below is a small market overview on the subject of digital printing and offset printing at well-known online printers.


Schätzl print emotionWIRmachenDRUCKONLINEDRUCK.BIZFlyeralarm
Digital printingYesNoYesNo
Offset printingNoYesNoYes

Primary printing press
HP IndigoSpeedmaster XL 106Kodak-Nexpress and Xerox iGen4Speedmaster XL 106
Print finishingScodixNo InformationNo InformationNo information
BuchstraßeMüller MartiniNo InformationOCE 6250No information

Tip 1: For online printers, it is always worth taking a look at the machine park (eg for printing, finishing and book production). If this information is missing on the print shop website, at least be careful.

2. Dscoop events from HP: Print quality is always an important issue

To stay up-to-date on digital printing, we recommend industry events like Dscoop.

There, new printing presses and innovative printing processes are presented early, sometimes even exclusively. Dscoop edge ™ is a series of events from the printing industry for the printing industry initiated by US print manufacturer HP. That’s why we are also regularly on site, take part in panels and network with interesting conversation partners. The Dscoop events take place at changing locations.

It’s about crucial industry issues such as “automation” and “cost savings”, but of course also about print quality. Incidentally, the most recent edition of Dscoop took place in the spectacularly located PortAventura Conference Center, approximately 1 ½ hours south of Barcelona. Our Recap for the three-day trade fair is here.

Tip 2: Industry events such as Dscoop from HP are always worth a visit, because you can learn a lot about print quality and how it can be improved in practice.

3. Correct file formats: avoid errors

Regardless of software and hardware, you can do more to measurably improve print quality. Small details have excitingly the biggest impact. For example, there are the following questions:

  • Is the file format correct (for example, valid PDF)?
  • Was the right color space chosen?
  • Does the file meet the specifications of the online printing company?
  • Were the specifics of finishing procedures taken into account?

Tip 3: Do not print on suspicion! In case of doubt, it is best to get advice early from the experts of an online printing company.

Summary for urgent readers, tl; dr / too long, did not read

5 facts about digital printing:

1. The smaller the circulation and the more individual, the better digital printing works. And the higher and more uniform the circulation, the sooner offset printing pays off.

2. For personalized, custom, and print-finished products, promotional materials, and other similar requirements, digital printing is the optimal solution today.

3. When an online printing company prints with the latest digital printing technology, you do not have to worry about the safe color reproduction, the brilliance of the colors and the opacity of photo prints.

4. High DPI = high print quality. The basic requirement is state-of-the-art digital printing machines with high resolution in DPI (dots per inch) and, of course, a print file with correspondingly high resolution.

5. The more an online print shop automates its processes, the cheaper, more efficient and faster it can handle print jobs.

3 tips for better print quality

Tip 1: For online printers, it is always worth taking a look at the machine park (eg for printing, finishing and book production). If this information is missing on the print shop website, at least be careful.

Tip 2: Industry events such as Dscoop from HP are always worth a visit, because they learn a lot about print quality and how it can be improved in practice.


Tip 3: Do not print on suspicion! In case of doubt, it is best to get advice early from the experts of an online printing company.


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