Digital versus Litho 

The method of printing is important for cost considerations, depending on the print run ( number of copies the publication is being printed). Here is an immediate question that comes up to the designer: how the image settings should be set up to ensure the best outcome for the chosen printing method. The answer is obvious: the company needs to communicate and make the designer aware of the chosen method, so he/she can set the appropriate page numbering settings, color spectrum, etc.

Brief Explanation on Digital versus Litho Print

Digital printing is analogous to printing to a large version of the home inkjet printer. The cost of printing is primarily the material cost. Each individual book has the same printing cost whether you are doing one copy or 10,000 copies. This printing method has recently been developed for prints on-demand and it opens up opportunities for very short runs of publications.

Traditional Litho printing involves paying for the set-up fee of the press and the lining up of the printing plates. The material cost for ink and paper are low, and cost per print goes down as the you print more copies.  Therefore the more you print, the more you spread the initial costs of the
print run over an ever increasing number of individual copies of that publication.

Practically speaking, digital printing is cheaper for very short print runs of publication (fewer copies). The long runs are cheaper to produce on a Litho press. In our experience, many clients can fall ‘somewhere in between’ – 500 copies of a 72 page A5 book can prove to be as expensive using either method.

Color choice makes a huge difference to print costs if you are, for instance, printing
many copies of a publication on a Litho press. On the other hand if you wish to
only print say 100 copies of a publication on a digital press it make no difference in price
if the text pages of the document are printed in full-color, with a limited spot
colour or just in greyscale. It’s important to color intentions with designers prior to submitting the designs to the printing press.


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