Litho and Digital Printing

When searching for an ideal print solution, how do you know which to choose? Colprint offer both litho and digital printing services for businesses based in Watford and further afield, but for those outside of the print industry, it can be difficult to make the decision without knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each printing technique.

At Colprint, we love to share our knowledge and wealth of experience in all aspects of printing. We make sure that all of our customers are comfortable making the choice by providing them with as much information and guidance as they need.

What is Litho Printing?

Litho printing, which is also known as Offset Lithography, is the more traditional method of printing and is more suitable for long run printing. The basics of the process are:

  • Litho printing is achieved by using four separate colours: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black.
  • The desired image is etched onto an aluminium press plate by laser for each one of these colours. The image is then transferred onto a rubber plate which is where the name ‘offset’ comes from.
  • The oil-based paint will attach to the areas of the plates which have been marked by the etching with water being attracted to the non-etched areas of the plate.
  • In the process of the material being printed onto all four plates, any colour can be achieved.

Strengths and Weaknesses

When deciding between litho and digital printing techniques, there are some strengths and weaknesses to consider. Due to the process of litho printing and the creation of bespoke plates, the turnaround process for completed jobs is longer than digital. For the same reason, this technique is better suited to longer run print jobs with the cost actually decreasing as the quantity increases. The quality of images produced, especially for areas of solid colour, is superior to and more consistent than with digital printing. Litho printing also has the advantage of being more suited to a wide range of printing surfaces including plastics.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a far less mechanical process than litho printing and means faster turnaround times. A larger degree of customisation is possible as there are no plates or materials that need to be made up for the job. For short runs and low volume of print, digital printing is ideal and offers bright and vibrant results.

Whilst the range of materials that can be digitally printed on with great results is increasing, litho printing currently is more suitable to a wider range of materials. In most cases, it would be difficult to tell the difference in quality between litho and digital printing, however, greater subtlety and better coverage of large areas gives the former a slight edge over digital.

Helping You Choose

When it comes to making a decision between litho and digital printing, our team will be on hand every step of the way to make sure your choice is right for your needs. We will help you consider the job quantity, size, material, quality and degree of personalisation needed to ensure the print method suits your requirements perfectly.