Lithographic printing is very cost effective for large print quantities, a larger variety of stocks can be used than digital, and printing is much faster and can produce a more consistent print for large areas of solid colour.
Due to the processes involved in preparation for litho printing, this method is best suited for larger quantities of printing.
How it works in a ‘nutshell’
Printed colour images are made up of the 4 primary colours referred to CMYK. The colours on the artwork are separated into CMYK then exposed just like a photograph onto photosensitive aluminium sheets, known as ‘Plates’ each colour has its own plate.
The plates are then inserted into the press by clipping onto a roller. Each plate is coated with its corresponding colour by an ink roller. The coloured image is rolled or ‘offset’ onto a cylinder which makes an impression on paper being fed through the press.
As the paper moves through each set of rollers, the colours mix to create a full colour image on the page. The printed pages are then sent off to be finished – trimmed, folded or turned into books and pads.
Digital printing is very cost effective for small to medium print quantities requiring a fast turnaround.
Unlike litho, the digital process does not require plates to be made so offers a cost effective, faster method of printing, although the cost per sheet is higher. This price is offset by the cost saving of avoiding all the technical steps, time and personnel required to print litho.
Digital presses use the same CMYK process colours but, unlike litho, are applied to the paper at the same time by the machine. Digital presses have the ability to finish products too such as collating and bookleting.