Most people order business cards from the first printer they find that has a reasonable price without considering how the cards are actually printed. Offset printing presses and digital printing presses have different costs and measures of quality associated with them, so it's important to understand what you're getting for your money. Whether your business cards are printed on a digital press or an offset press is a question worth considering before you order your next batch of business cards since you can save a lot of money if you're printing business cards on the right type of press.
Offset printing is of higher quality than digital printing because of the way these presses transfer ink to the paper. Business cards printed on an offset printer have clean, crisp lines because a plate transfers the business card text and images to a rubber sheet, which is then pressed directly to the paper.
Business card offset printing is also very fast and inexpensive - as the quantity increases, the price per business card can drop dramatically; however, this is only true when printing more than 200 business cards. Anything below that can become rather expensive on an offset press, because it takes time and costs money to set up the printing press for a new job. This is a one-time fee for each job, so once you exceed a certain order volume the fee is negligible and you can get the best quality for the best prices available.
For those on a tighter budget or who don't need more than 200 business cards, digital printing has become a viable alternative to offset printing. New technologies incorporated in state-of-the-art digital presses have made digital quality nearly as good as offset quality. In fact, to the untrained eye there is virtually no difference between the two options, and your business will not suffer because it chose a digitally printed business card over an offset-printed business card. Unlike offset printing, digital prices remain consistent per business card, which is why digital printing is less expensive than offset printing on short runs but can be quite a bit more expensive on bigger runs.
When it comes to choosing between offset and digital printing for your business cards, the question is not so much which technology you want to use but how many do you want to print? If the return on investment is king, then offset printing allows for a lower per-piece rate, which means that every business card that helps land a sale has a higher return on investment. Digital printing pricing is fairly consistent, so your return on investment per card will be the same no matter how many you print.
The most important consideration is perhaps who your printer will be. Companies such as PsPrint offer the latest equipment from both the offset printing and digital printing worlds, and it will be able to determine for you which type of press is more economical for you.