The world was forever changed in 1439—the year German businessman Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Books that once cost a years wages to purchase were now available to the masses. Science, politics, religion, philosophy—studies once relegated only to the wealthiest and highly educated were now disciplines growing and changing the minds of people everywhere.
Many changes and advancements in the art of printing have been made over the last 580 years. In 1796, the art of lithography was invented by a Bavarian actor and playright named Alois Senefelder. A still younger child in the printing family is digital printing. The first digital presses were sold and used in the early 1990’s.
In this article, we will learn the definitions of and the differences between “digital printing” and “litho printing.” This article will serve as a useful tool in determining which of the two printing methods are right for your printing project. Let’s begin by defining terms.
“Digital Printing”: the method of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. It usually refers to professional printing where small-run jobs from desktop publishing programs (i.e. from a computer) and other digital sources are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers.
“Litho” (short for “Lithography” or “Lithographic”): the method of printing from a plane surface (such as a smooth stone or metal plate) on which the image to be printed is ink-receptive and the blank area ink-repellent.
Regarding quality: although great strides have been made in recent years, and although lithography is a method 200 years older than digital printing, litho still has the upper hand over digital when it comes to quality. Because the lithographic method uses actual ink, as opposed to digital images, a litho image comes closest to the original artwork or design. Yet again, today’s technology allows printers to recreate colour designs by utilizing the digital medium that are so sharp, it can be difficult for the untrained eye to tell the difference between a lithograph and a digital print.
An easy way to determine which of the two methods to use for your printing project—digital or litho—is to simply consider the size of your print run. Lithography becomes more cost effective than digital printing when your project will run generally over 500 sheets. That being said, you will still want to utilize the skill and expertise of a professional printer when determining which of the two methods to use. Every project is unique, and it is necessary that every element of the project is given due consideration.
This is where we at Afford A Print can come in. We will help you determine which of these two printing methods will best suite your needs. Then, we will assist you with your design elements, determining the optimal size of your print run, and shepherd you through every aspect of your printing project. So if it’s a small run of business cards, or a large print run of flyers, Contact us today to discuss your printing needs.