The Difference Between Litho and Digital Printing

Technological advancements in the printing industry mean there are now more commercial printing options than ever before. Whatever the job, time scale or budget there is an option to suit, however there is a lot of confusion for marketers, trying to understand the difference between the two types of printing methods used;

  • Digital Printing
  • Litho Pritning

What is Litho Printing?

The most commercial printing technology used is Offset Lithography. The image is burned onto a metal plate using a laser, which is then loaded onto a printing press. The image is then offset onto a rubber blanket and then transferred onto a rubber blanket and then onto printing surface whether its paper, card or plastics. This process relies on the repulsion of oil and water creating a high quality consistent image and suitable for a wide range of surfaces.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing removes many of the mechanical steps used in conventional printing, including making the plates but is completely different from home printing. Digital print presses used by professional print companies are much more sophisticated than that. Digital printing creates bright and vibrant images on a range of materials and can be personalised using a database where text and graphics can be changed on each item without stopping or slowing down the press.

How Do I know Which Method is Right for Me?

As both mediums are very different it is hard to compare them to each other. It is best to give the printer a call and ask advice on which service you need if you are not sure.

    • QuantityLitho has additional set ups costs which make it expensive for short runs, but more cost effective for higher quantities where as digital printing is a more suitable option financially for small quantities.
    • Materials – Both processes offer a range of options when it comes to the medium you’re printing on. Often it is possible to use the same materials with both digital and lithohowever there could be some differences in the print
    • Turnaround TimeDigital print offers a much faster turn around rate as there is no mechanical set up involved.
    • CustomisationDigital printing offers the most affordable way to customise marketing materials, direct mail and letters using variable technology.

Digital or Litho Printing?

Litho printing is completely different, as a rule companies will send work away to be printed lithographically as the machines are very big and very expensive. Litho printing is best suited for printing large quantities and can normally be done at a far cheaper cost than digital. Before you are able to print you need to set up the litho printer, a polymer coating needs to be applied to the flexible aluminium plate which can then be transferred to paper or any other material in high volume. It is the fact that it takes time and lots of ink to line the smooth sheet that makes in more expensive for small run printing.