I won’t tell you exactly when I got into the printing business but let’s just say, it wasn’t that recently. Back when I started out, the most cost-effective way to print was most definitely litho. But with the leaps in technology that we’ve seen over the last decade, can we expect that to change?
Why litho printing still matters
The foundation of the industry, lithographic printing is basically where you place an image onto a plate, cover it in ink and use it to print.
It’s very cost-effective for print runs of 250 or more, particularly ones where the design features large areas of solid, single colour. Turnaround times tend to be a little slower as ink takes longer to dry, but you’ll benefit from being able to print onto pretty much any smooth surface with litho.
Is digital printing really the inferior technique?
On the other side of the printing coin, digital-based images are printed when lots of teeny tiny dots are applied directly to certain media.
The set-up time is much shorter than with litho and the drying time non-existent. That generally makes it cheaper and ideal for small runs and short deadlines.
For a long time, digital printing was seen to be the sub-standard option, but that attitude is slowly changing. Ten years ago it was looked down upon because it was cheaper and “inferior looking”. But the leaps and bounds that we’ve seen in technology over the last decade have helped that attitude to go on a bit of a journey.
Technology makes all the difference
As printing technology has developed, print quality has improved and so have the programs that clients use to handle digital files. More sophisticated programs have cut out a whole load of time when it comes to adding in personalisation to a print job. And that’s very handy for direct mail campaigns which bring in different names on each piece.
It’s not all good news though.
Special finishes still need a bit of attention in the digital printing arena and limits to the paper thickness remain (currently 80-300gsm). But digital printing costs are attractively low, colour shade variances are far superior and the promise of future improvements to technology is most definitely exciting and encouraging for the industry.
If you’re not sure which printing approach to use, just ask us (we know what we’re doing). Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a buzz on 0330 010 2264.