Digital vs. Lithographic Printing – Which Is The Best For You?

Digital vs. Lithographic Printing – Which Is The Best For You?

Priory Press often gets asked by our customers what the main differences between Digital and Lithographic printing are?  Whilst both options have their very specific ‘pros and cons’ they are both defending their respective corner to stay relevant.  Knowing the simple contrasts between the two production methods will help you make an informed choice next time you place your next print order with Priory Press.


Lithographic press in action.

What is Litho Printing?

Lithographic (or Offset) Printing has been the most common high-volume commercial printing technology for decades. For Offset printing, the chosen print image is burnt onto a metallic plate, then transferred (or Offset) from the plate to a rubber blanket, the image is the transferred  to the printing surface (paper / card etc). The lithograph operates on the principle of oil and water repelling one another in a chemical reaction.  The final prints will then pass through ink rollers – whilst blank areas (where no printing is required) attracts a film of water, the ink will avoid these areas and coat the areas covered in oil with content.

What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is a giant  industry-standard version of a home computer and printer. It processes your giant electronic files and converts electronic dots into four colours (CMYK), before reproducing the image using ink and toner. Unlike Lithographic printing, this process of printing does not require plates to be produced and can be a much faster process.

Advantages of Lithographic Printing

  • High image quality,
  • Works on a wider range of surfaces including: paper, card, plastics, wood, metal and leather,
  • The unit cost goes down as the quantity increases,
  • Quality and cost-effectiveness in high volume jobs. While today’s digital presses are close to the cost/benefit ratio of offset for high quality work, they are not yet able to compete with the volume an offset press can produce.

Advantages of Digital Printing

  • Quicker turnaround,
  • Every print is the same. More accurate counts, less waste and fewer variations, due to not having to balance ink and water during press run,
  • Cheaper low volume printing. While the unit cost of each piece may be higher than with offset printing, when setup costs are included digital printing provides lower per unit costs for very small print runs,
  • Digital Printing is open to customisation and can work in-step with databases (Variable Data Printing). Through usage of theses programmes, text and graphics can be changed on an individual piece without stopping or slowing down the press. For example, personalised stationery can be printed. Variable data printing is used primarily for direct marketing, customer relationship development and advertising campaigns.

To find out more – call our friendly team on 01582 699851 or check out our website today!