Explaining the Difference Between Litho and Digital Print

It’s a common question in print management; what’s the difference between litho and digital print, and is one better than the other? Let’s take a look at where we’d use them both and when’s better to opt for one over the other.

What is Litho Printing?

Magazines, booklets, brochures, prospectuses, promo posters. You know, the high-volume promotional materials you see everywhere. Yep, they are more than likely litho printed. 

Litho printing uses wet ink, applied via plates, to transfer images and text to the print material. This is how we achieve that high-quality effect that is particularly appealing on promotional print work. 

It may take a little longer to set up a job, but the finish is usually superior. Because of this, litho printing tends to be the favoured option when a client is ordering a high volume of work or requires a specific Pantone colour. It’s also easier to print onto a wider variety of paper weights with litho, hence why you’ll find it’s used on anything from a flyer to a mounted board. 

What is Digital Printing?

It’s as it sounds; it takes a digital image, usually a PDF, and prints it directly on the desired material. There are no plates or ink to contend with, and it offers a quicker turnaround. 

For that reason, digital print is better used on smaller order quantities or those that require customisation; you still get that high-quality print, but at a more favourable rate than you’d find with litho printing. 

Where might you see examples of digital print? On anything with variable colour print (think personalised direct mail) and merch such as short-run printed brochures, flyers, boxes, clothing and more!

How to decide what print to go for

It’s best for you to determine the biggest factor for consideration; is it the print finish and order quantity, or is it a tight deadline and cost-saving that’s most important?  

You may also find it useful to ask your print management company of choice to quote your job for both types of print. However, be mindful that it’s easier to see a print proof of a digital print than it is of a litho. You can get litho proofs, but they’ll cost you. A lot

This may then lead you to question whether print marketing is still a ‘thing’. Do many businesses still send brochures and promotional material through the post? Surprisingly (and luckily for us), yes, they do! But you know what, because of the switch to all things digital, direct mail is proving to be more exclusive and a great way to stand out from the crowd. 

So after all of that, you just need someone to help you make those decisions, right? Here at Clone Media, we pride ourselves on being the go-to people to take the stress out of your print management process.  

“We start by finding out exactly what is important to you. We’ll help you build and then present you a brief to then manage your project through to delivery & completion. You can have full trust in us that we have everything in hand, leaving you with nothing to worry about.” – Gogi, Senior Account Manager. 

Your print marketing is an extension of your brand, and it should represent everything about you in the most professional way. You want to know the print management team you choose will deliver exceptional quality, within time and budget and with the highest level of communication and service. And for that, we have to say we come out on top every time. 

If you have a concept you’d like to materialise or need some direction on how to get going, speak to the team at Clone


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