Litho Vs Digital Print, What's the difference? 

Not sure about the difference between print types. Here we explain a bit more so you can make an informed choice for your print orders.

Not sure about the difference between print types and what should you use for your next shirt run of flyers, or your annual sales brochure for trade shows? Here we explain a bit more so you can make an informed choice. To make the decision easier for our clients – and to clear up a few misconceptions – I’ve gone into more detail about these popular printing methods here. Still not sure, give the team here at Black Swan a call and we can advise what would be the best option for you. 


What is Litho Printing?

Lithographic printing is a traditional printing method, which works by using an aluminium plate and rollers, which through fast movement, creates high-quality printed material through the transfer of ink onto paper.

This method of lithography printing involves adding the artwork onto an intermediate surface before the final sheet. The process is referred to as ‘offset printing’ as the printing plate does not come in direct contact with the paper.

At Black Swan Printers, we utilize the litho-printing method for larger, long-run print jobs. Printing our higher volume orders using a litho printer helps ensure that we can keep the quality consistent no matter how big the job is.

Choose litho printing if:

  • You want materials with a top-quality finish
  • You’re investing in large quantities of the same print
  • You want to create a lot of materials quickly
  • You’re incorporating large blocks of colour into your design and want to achieve graphics that are smooth and non-pixelated
  • You want to print onto unusual stock – for example, textured, glossy or coloured paper
  • You wish to print onto thicker paper – litho presses can cope with thicknesses of up to 500gsm
  • You don’t require a fast turnaround – it can take several days for the ink to dry thoroughly
  • You’re looking for hard-wearing print materials
  • Cost isn’t so much of an issue!


What is Digital Printing?

Digital printing is the process of printing a digital image directly onto the material you’re looking to print on. Unlike lithographic printing which relies on wet ink and printing plates, digital printing uses ink that is printed directly onto the paper, just like an office printer.

Our digital printers create your print by copying a digital image from a file and recreating it by dropping minuscule droplets of ink onto the printed material, by rapidly moving across the page.

With no need for plates or grouping up similar types of work, digital printing can be a much faster and cost-effective solution, which is why we tend to use our digital printers for smaller quantity jobs. 

Our investment in high-quality digital printers means we can reduce our turnaround times so we can print orders faster and get them to you quicker. 


Choose digital printing if:

  • You need a shorter run length
  • You need a quick turnaround
  • You want to print onto simple, untreated materials
  • You’re happy to work with thinner paper weights (up to 300gsm)
  • You need to create print personalised materials – for example, leaflets or flyers addressed to specific customers
  • You’re not using metallic inks within your print designs
  • You don’t want to varnish the finished products
  • You want to keep printing costs to a minimum


So in summary, if you’re looking for premium quality, heavy-duty prints with specific features, you don’t mind waiting a few days to receive your prints, and you’re happy to spend a little more money upfront, litho printing is the perfect option.

If you need a smaller volume of products, you’re not looking to add any off-beat inks into your designs, and you want to get a great finish at a much more competitive price, digital is the way forward.



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