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Litho Printing versus Digital Printing

and what the differences mean for you

Litho Printing versus Digital Printing
Litho printing (also known as offset printing) offers the highest definition print, it can incorporate pantone inks and it is better suited to large print runs.  Whereas digital printing is better for shorter print runs, it generally has a shorter lead time (as less set up time is involved) and it is still capable of producing good quality print.

The actual printing processes involved in both of these printing methods also differs quite considerable. Lithograph printing is described as an "offset" printing technique because the Ink is not applied directly from the printing plate. In this print method ink is applied to the printing plate and then transferred (offset) to the substrate. Digital printing is unique because it sends the design directly to the printer eliminating the need for printer plates.  Both of these processes create a full colour print using a mix of CMYK.

So if you are printing 1000+ copies and you want a specific pantone colour for your brand you will be best with litho printing, but if you need 500 copies as quickly as possible you will want them digitally printed.

COMPARISON - Litho Printing & Screen Printing

Litho Printing

Digital Printing

Material Choice


Print Run
1,000+ 1+
Lead Time
5-7 working days 2-5 working days
Pantone Inks
Yes No (colour matching is possible)
Subsurface Printing
No Yes
Variable Info (e.g. inidividual names)
No Yes


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