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Digital vs Litho Printing

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a set of business cards for your latest employee, a stack of folded leaflets for your new campaign or a fresh collection of business stationary for your office, getting the cost, quality and turnaround of your print just right can make all the difference.

Digital vs Litho printing - Print Stafford

In the print world, there are two main types of printing: digital and litho. Here we discuss the pros and cons as we put digital vs litho. Let the battle commence.

Worlds apart in their methods and boasting their own unique set of benefits, let’s take a look at some of the differences between digital and litho printing to help you decide the best direction for your project. Read our great guide to find out more!

Table of Contents

Digital vs lithographic may seem confusing rest assured we will explain all.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is the method most of you will be familiar with. Similarly, to how everyday office printers use toner to print with, digital printers do this but much faster and to a higher quality. Digital files such as PDFs are sent directly to the digital printing press which are then drawn onto the machine’s printing drum by a laser.

This generates a static charge on the drum cylinder which reflects the image to be printed. Digital printers normally print in 4 colour process (CMYK), which is made up of C (Cyan), M (Magenta), Y (Yellow) and K (Black) to create the finalised image. The ink prints an image on the drum which is then rolled onto your chosen paper stock at high speed.

Digital Printing Stafford

Benefits of Digital vs Litho Printing

One of the main benefits of digital printing is that it has a very quick set up time. Once the design is uploaded onto the computer, the printer can print up to 4,800 sheets per hour. This means there are shorter lead times, less waste and it can be much more cost effective for runs in numbers less than 1,000.

Those looking for customisable print like that of business cards will also benefit from digital printing as every copy can be unique. In our factory we utilise and maintain many digital machines including our HP Indigo 10000.

What is Litho Printing?

Litho printing is a much more traditional method of printing that over recent years has been significantly modernised and improved in terms of quality, capacity and speed. Sometimes referred to as lithography, lithographic or offset printing, litho printing begins with the design laser etched and transferred onto multiple sheets of aluminium which are then mounted into four separate printing units for the four CMYK colours.

The ink then passes through multiple rubber rollers which then sticks to the image area of the aluminium plate and then onto the paper, cardboard or plastic stock.

Litho Printing Stafford

Benefits of Litho vs Digital Printing

Litho printing produces a better quality finish compared to digital print especially with designs that require large blocks of solid colour. Litho printing also allows you to print on a wide variety of stock including materials that are rough or heavily textured.

Unlike digital printing, litho printing requires a much more complicated set up since the design must be made on printing plates. Again we utilise a wide range of litho machinery including Heidelberg Speedmaster and others.

However, once this process has been done, litho printing can produce prints faster than digital with an average of up to 18,000 an hour. Additionally, since the unit cost decreases as the quantity increases, litho printing is popular with high quantity print projects such as large orders of magazines, leaflets or brochures.

Digital VS Litho
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Digital vs Litho Printing at Print Stafford

Well as the digital vs litho battle comes to an end, we hope you understand that there is no clear winner. Ultimately, digital and litho printing have their own unique set of advantages and which one is best depends entirely on what you are printing, how many prints you need, the material you are using, the level of personalisation required, your budget and the degree of quality you desire. If you wish to learn about what the difference between RGB and CMYK we wrote about that too!

When you ask us at Print Stafford to print your project we take a look at all of your requirements to decide who wins the battle between digital vs litho for your project. As we specialise in both digital and litho printing, so if you are still wondering about print options for your project, get in touch with our talented team of print experts and let us help you find the most advantageous and cost effective option for you!