What is the difference between Digital and Lithographic Printing?

Author: Ellie Williamson
Published: 05/07/2013

Just another thing you have to consider when preparing your print.

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Digital printing has a quicker turnaround and lower cost compared to lithographic printing due to the printing process being less complex. However, this also means the overall quality of the finished item is marginally jeopardised, particularly when fine details are incorporated into the artwork.


Printing on the lithographic press will produce a superior reproduction of your artwork with colours truer to the original design due to the lithographic press printing at a higher resolution compared to the digital press. Therefore, we suggest any designs incorporating photographer's/artist's work are printed on the lithographic press to ensure details and colours are enhanced.

The inks used on the digital press are not absorbed into the stock they are printed onto; instead they sit on the surface and this can cause complications with the finished items depending on what they are intended to be used for.

See 'Helpful Tips - Factors To Consider/Writing & Stamping onto Your Printed Items' for more information.

As the digital press is not as well equipped to handle certain features of designs as well as the lithographic press, you may want to consider this when designing your artwork and/or choosing your printing method.

See 'Helpful Tips - Factors To Consider / Grey Issues on the Digital Press, Gradients on the Digital Press' for more information.

EXAMPLE: Any printed artwork that you intend to be put through a desktop printer (e.g. letterheads), must be printed on the lithographic press. This is due to both the digital press and desktop printers using heat during the print process. Consequently the ink on the artwork will become wet again once put through the desktop printer.

**Useful Information**

If you intend to order multiple items within one order, try to ensure they are being printed on the same press. If you have items within your order that are going to be printed on the digital press as well as items that are going to be printed on the lithographic press, you may notice a difference in the quality due to the two processes achieving different results. The differences will be especially noticeable if the items are of a similar design.

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