Litho vs Digital Printing

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Digital printing is ideal for printing small to medium runs e.g. 1-1000 or for personalising each document.

  • The main difference is Digital is more suitable for shorter runs and Litho for longer runs.
  • Our services take advantage of both technologies so that we are able to pick the correct technology for each particular job depending on weight & type of material, turnaround required, run length  & quality required . We will give you both the options were appropriate or make the decisions to deliver to you the quality you expect at the price  and within the time frame.
  • Litho printing requires an intermediate, such as a plate, whereas Digital prints direct from the file to the machine and each copy comes off the machine collated..
  • Digital set ups are generally quicker and more simple than Litho setups which are more complex.

  • Quality: Historically, it has been said that Litho printing produces the best quality and that is still true today. However, Digital printing quality is now so good that to the average person, in most cases, is hard for them to tell the difference, if not impossible. The use of graduated tints and large solid blocks of colour would tend to lead to Litho being selected as the preferred process however.
  • Range of colours: If a number of specific spot [Pantone] colours are required to a high level of accuracy, then it may be best to specify Litho printing although Digital presses are now very good at matching some Pantone colours.
  • Original Image Quality: Digital is slightly more forgiving in that it will produce good quality from images as low as 150dpi. Litho needs considerably higher resolution.
  • Overprinting: If you have a requirement to overprint your material after we have produced it using the digital process, say on a home laser printer, please be careful since some machines will melt some of the image that we have produced as it goes through your printer. Litho produced prints are generally more tolerant of subsequent over-printing.
  • Personalisation [Variable data]: This makes each print a unique print and as such is most suited to Digital printing. The use of this service will considerably increase the return on investment and response rate for mailing campaigns compared with the shotgun approach.
  • Metallic Inks: If you require Gold or Silver for example then this is best done using Litho Printing.
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