When it comes to print, there are 2 types that you need to know about – Lithographic or Digital. Litho printing is also known as Offset printing, which is how we got our name, Elite Offset!
We thought it might be useful to write a blog about the process involved in each printing method and why you might choose one over the other. I’ll try not to get too technical and hope that you find it an interesting read!
This is the traditional method used for printing before the explosion of the digital age and all things ‘techy’, and it was really the only way you could get ink printed onto paper, unless you wanted to do it by hand. When you want 1000 letterheads though, this is not something you want to be doing!
So how does Litho printing work?
The process involves printing from a set of aluminium/plastic sheets that are known as plates. Each plate corresponds with the colours in the artwork (which would either be either 2 colour or 4 colour, known as ‘full’ colour). The plates are then collated and clipped onto a cylinder inside the machine, or press to give it its proper name, and then coated with ink in the corresponding colour.
Water is added to stop the ink from being attracted to the non-image area on the plate. The coloured image is then rolled or ‘offset’ onto a rubber blanket that is a mirror image of the plate and this makes an impression on paper being fed into the press.
It’s a bit like watching the old-fashioned computer printers that had 4 separate inks and you could see each colour building up until you got the finished product. Incidentally, the 4 colours are known as CMYK, which stands for Cyan (Blue), Magenta (Red), Yellow and Black (or Key). Many people assume the ‘K’ is because it’s the last letter in the word black, but it is actually because it’s a key colour often used as outline and is printed first before the other colours.
So why use Litho not Digital printing?
Ideal for long print runs so anything over 5,000 and printing duplicate and triplicate sets (known as NCR – no carbon required) as well as jobs that require numbering and perforating.
Litho printing gives a higher quality of print, but due to the number of processes involved it is more expensive than digital when used in small quantities. Litho is mainly used for printing Pantone colours, ideal for ensuring an exact colour match with other printed material.
A much simpler way of printing than litho, digital printing has a higher cost per page which is offset by the fact that there are a lot less processes involved. This is the main reason why it’s suited to short runs and quick turnaround.
How does Digital printing work and why choose it?
A much simpler process where a laser deposits toner onto paper, again using the CMYK colour process but everything is done by the machine, without the need for human assistance. As there are less processes involved, it’s much quicker than litho printing and a lot more cost effective for smaller print runs, with quicker turnaround. We offer next day and even same day turnaround on some digital jobs.
And the downside to Digital printing?
Well, the print is not quite a crisp and sharp as litho print but the average person with no knowledge about printing methods would probably even see a difference!
So there you have it, a beginner’s guide to printing! Remember, for any of your print requirements, don’t hesitate to get in touch for a quote