With the numerous advancements in technology with printers there are now more commercial printing options than there has been before. No matter what the job is, time frame to turn the job around or budget there is an option to suit. That being said this has led to a lot of confusion particularly for marketers, as they try to understand the various terms and options at their disposal. Especially understanding what the differences are between Lithography 'Litho' and Digital Printing.
Considered the most accurate and reliable of printing, that is of the highest quality. However, this is should be a choice with a high volume of printing.
For Offset Lithography to work, an image is burned onto a metal plate with a laser, and then this is loaded onto a printing press. This image is transferred onto a rubber sheet and then onto the print surface, paper, card or plastic.
The process then uses oil and water to grease the surface and the image gets printed using ink from rollers, while the non-printed area attracts a film of water, stopping the area getting printed on.
Consistent image quality
Works on numerous surfaces
More volume, less cost per print
Capable for doing long runs without losing quality
Unique inks available
Expensive set up on small volume runs
Takes longer to do the job
No variable data option
Smaller colour range leading to less bright colours
Conventional printing has a lot of mechanical steps including making plates. With Digital print there are a lot less things to do to set up the job, but it's certainly not the same as printing from your desktop printer at home. Digital Print Presses are used by professional printers, and they are a lot more sophisticated.
Quick setup time leading to fast turn around of orders
Bright, vibrant images on a range of materials
Cheaper option for low volume printing
Personalisation using a database where text and graphics can be changed on each item without stopping or slowing down the press
Expensive on longer runs
Less colour control
Can't print on all surfaces with the best quality
Quality can be inconsistent but often 95% accurate
Can be difficult to match pan-tone colours
How to choose the right one
When picking the method that is right for the job, marketers ought to take into consideration the following:
Volume being printed - If you are doing a run on mass then Litho would be more cost effective, but for small jobs the set up fee for the job would not offer the best value for money therefore Digital Print would be a better option.
Print surface - Both Litho and Digital printing offer a variety of options when it comes to the specific medium being printed on. It is often possible to use the same surface, but the difference in results and quality vary, this is usually the case with uncoated stock.
Colour - Digital Presses use four-colour (CMYK) printing process, so if you are looking for a monotone or two pantone spot colours, offset printing could offer a more cost-effective solution not to mention when specialist metallic inks are required.
Speed of turn round - Digital Print offers a faster turnaround as there is no mechanical set-up involved.
Print Proofing - If you require a proof before before finalising the order, digital is the way to go. A proof print through litho is going to be expensive as it involves making plates and preparing the press
Customisation - Digital printer offers the simplest way for customisation, if you have marketing material such as direct mail and letters, digital print can use variable data without affecting the set up.
Logixal offer a range of colour and black and white digital production presses. For more information on our range contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 44 (0) 20 7014 0100