Lithographic or digital print? Should you care?

With the arrival of new technologies, there’s no doubting that the crossover between lithographic printing and digital printing is blurring but still, each has its distinct advantages.

For many years, the market share for digital print has grown at the expense of lithographic. At first glance, it’s not surprising; digital print does away with expensive plates requiring set-up, messy inks needing washing up and skilled but expensive operators. Then there’s the real feather in its cap: each and every printed sheet can be different and come off the press ready collated.

You’d think with such advantages lithographic print would have disappeared completely but clearly not. It continues to fight back in many ways.

Firstly, lithographic machinery is considerably more reliable meaning servicing costs, including inks, are lower resulting in a much cheaper overall cost-per-page. Then, there’s the versatility to print on a wider range of materials without subsequent problems and finally the ability to print specials colours on demand.

In terms of quality, digital is in some cases now equal to lithographic and on uncoated materials (unless you’ve got instantly drying LED lithographic presses, like Flexpress) can be better.

The general rule of thumb is, unless you need variable data or personalisation, the run-length of your job is the best way to determine whether it’s best printed digitally or lithographically. Digitally is best suited to printing lower quantities (roughly 1 to 400 sheets) and lithographic to longer runs of 400 sheets plus. This is not an exact science as other factors such as job size, collating and speed will also make a difference too but it’s a good starting point.

The easiest thing, if you’re not sure which to choose for your next project is to talk to Flexpress. We offer the very best of both technologies available and will make sure we quote you the right alternative.