Digital Print or Litho Print? 5 Questions to ask yourself when choosing your print process.
Written by Malcolm Saunders, Document Setting & Print Operative at Romax Marketing & Distribution.
Digital Print: Digital printing methods include inkjet or laser printers that deposit pigment or toner onto the paper.
Litho Print: Litho print is the method of printing at a large scale in which inks are transferred onto aluminium plates to make an impression from a blanket onto the paper.
Having been in the print trade for over 30 years now, I feel I am in a great position to explain some key differences between Digital Print, and Litho Print. I have been very fortunate to have started in the Print aged 17 when everything was Litho print, and Digital print was pretty much unheard of.
Over the years I have watched the successful, and an astonishing evolution of Digital printers in the print trade. I currently work for Romax Marketing & Distribution Ltd where I am a Typesetter and Print Operative, occasionally running their Xerox iGen 150 Digital Production Press (With an additional one to be installed soon), Xerox Docucolor 8000 Digital Production Press, and Xerox Nuvera 157 Mono Press. But up until my employment here, I have always worked at Litho Printers, some with Digital Printers.
I hope my advice will help you with your print campaign.
- Quantity, large or small?
If your print quantity is a small generic amount or requires personalisation then the digital print will be your best choice, there will be no plate or ink set up costs, therefore keeping the price lower than with Litho.
If your generic print quantity is a larger amount, then litho print will be the best choice, because once the litho press is up and running, the cost of printing is actually cheaper, and therefore the costs of the plates and ink set up is compensated in the long print run.
There is no definitive cut off between digital print and litho print in terms of volume, and you are best talking through the entire job with your printer.
- I’m in a hurry!
You need your print and need it now! I would recommend digital print, digital print works in a similar way to your desktop printer, open the file, click print, and wait for your print! Obviously, it’s a bit more sophisticated than that, with impositions and paper stocks to be considered, but the digital print is, without doubt, the way to go for quick turnaround print.
Still, with Litho Print, once the plates are made up, prepared for printing and tested, litho print is quicker than digital print, it all depends on question 1 again – quantity.
I want the best possible quality! Ask this question 5 years ago, and the answer would have been Litho Print all day long, but as mentioned in my opening paragraph, the astonishing evolution of Digital printers has meant the difference in quality today is very minimal, and most people really cannot tell the difference.
- I need personalisation
What exactly does Personalisation in print mean? Rather than send the same generic letter out to every customer, why not personalize your print? The flexibility of Digital Print allows you to personalize every single item of print you send out.
For example, a letter to a customer doesn’t just have to say ‘Dear Sir/Madam – or Dear Customer’. Your data can open a number of personalization options, from just the simple ‘Dear Malcolm’, to more sophisticated campaigns involving variable paragraphs, images, signatures on letters – the options are massive, dependent on the data you hold on your customers. Allowing you to send relevant content, and therefore gaining a better ROI.
Though impossible for Litho Print, this is easily achieved in Digital Print, dependent on print files and data held by the customer.
I want the cheapest price! When it comes to price, it again depends on the six points above:
- I’m looking for a short run: Digital Print
- I need a big run: Litho Print
- I need it quickly: For smaller quantities – Digital Print
- I need the best quality: Digital or Litho Print
- I have more than one design: Digital Print
- I’ll need to order the same frequently: Dependent on quantity
So which is better?
Both processes have pros and cons, but hopefully, this guide has helped you decide which process is better for you needs.
Romax Marketing & Distribution, a Greenwich-London based company, provides a wide range of services in Direct Marketing for B2B and B2C, Direct Mail, Data Management, Printing, Discount Postage, Membership Communication Services and Marketing Consultancy.
Contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0) 20 8293 8550