Litho vs Digital printing. What’s the difference?


How do you know which method is right for your print requirements? Overall, digital is more suitable for short run printing whilst litho is more suited to mass production. However, there are a number of issues to consider when looking at the two options.

Quantity and budget

Generally, digital is more suitable for short run printing (i.e. fewer copies) and litho for longer runs (i.e. more copies). This is because digital printing is done directly from the file to the machine so there are no set up processes and you only print what you need, resulting in no waste and making small print runs very economical. Litho printing however requires additional set-up costs, therefore making it more expensive for short runs.


Digital printing is controlled by computers and requires minimal set up, which significantly reduces the turnaround time. Litho set ups however are far more complex and uses plates to transfer ink onto paper, so the set up therefore takes longer.


Digital is the way to go if you need to see an accurate proof of the finished print before you order. Creating accurate proofs through litho printing can be expensive as it involves making plates and preparing the press just for one sample copy.


As computers control the printing process for digital printing it is much easier to change the content of the item whilst it is being printed. This adds a level of customisation and personalisation that cannot be achieved through litho printing.

Quality and Colour

Whilst the quality of digitally printing continues to improve, when printing graduated tints and large solid blocks of colour, litho is often the preferred process as it is far more accurate than the four-colour digital process. Spot colours can also be produced through litho printing.

Still unsure which option to go with? Get in contact with us today

2018-03-26T13:56:56+01:00January 16th, 2017|