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12 October 2018 | Print

The Difference between Digital & Lithographic Printing: How one could save you thousands on your next print job!


Whether you’re having flyers printed for a marketing campaign or want glossy brochures for your local store, choosing the right print process not only has an impact on quality but the amount that you’re likely to pay.

There are two different printing processes that your business can choose from: Digital and lithographic.


Here’s our quick guide to the pros and cons of each.


Lithographic Printing

This is what many people think about when they look at traditional printing. It involves putting wet ink onto plates and transferring that content onto paper. In fact, traditionally, four different plates are used with different colours to produce high quality images.

When considering this process, you need to take into account the initial cost of setting up and creating the plates as well as the machinery involved. This can often mean a higher price than digital printing because of the initial stage developing the plates – once they are created, however, the cost of individual prints can be cheaper. It will also take longer to turn around a lithographic print compared to digital printing.

What’s it best for? Lithographic printing is suitable for large, very high quality prints and for long runs where the initial cost of set up is outweighed by the lower cost of the printing (usually for jobs in excess of 2,000). In other words, you need to go for high volume to meet the same costs as digital printing.


Digital Printing

This is essentially the equivalent of a large scale, pimped out office printer and doesn’t need a plate to be made. It usually works from digital files such as pdfs and uses toner and ink to ‘dot’ the page to produce the image. It has become increasingly popular for businesses that want a cost effective and responsive print solution that meets their needs for a variety of purposes.

What’s it best for? Generally, any run under 2K is better and cheaper if digital printing is used. It’s the kind of process that works well for a wide range of marketing materials as well as traditional office and business branded stationary. You can expect a quick turnaround for this kind of print job.

The other benefit, apart from the immediate lower cost, is that digital printing can be done on demand and tailored to a high degree. For example, if you have promotional material but want to add data such as different names and addresses on each print (for a charity mailing maybe), you can easily do so. This is usually why it appeals more to businesses in a B2C environment.

While lithographic printing can be used on a bigger range of paper thicknesses, most businesses will find that digital printing more than suits their needs. The quality of digital prints has also improved significantly over the last few years and the versatility is really what sets it apart.

This is where a print management company comes in handy, particularly if your business produces a lot of hard copy marketing and promotional material. They do the legwork and make more informed decisions on which supplier is best for your current needs. Often, delivered projects can be made up of various printed elements. Some bits might be lithographically printed and some digital. On the whole, though, digital printing offers the best of both worlds with exceptional quality as well as speed and cost effectiveness.

Here at Crane Creative we work with a number of brilliant local printers and often receive preferential rates. If you’re ever looking to source high quality print then get in touch with us and let us do the hard work. We can also advise on the optimal formats and sizes for various marketing materials to ensure you’re getting the best ROI for the project at hand.


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