When is Lithographic the Right Choice? Asked & Answered

A professional working on a Lithographic project

The moment you need something printed, whether it’s a report, a marketing banner, or something else, you have to consider which printing method is right for the job. Lithography projects are still popular, even with the introduction of digital printing. Knowing when to use lithography as your printing method of choice requires an understanding of the process.

Whatever it is that you’re printing, it needs to look good. Of course, there’s something to be said about whether the item being printed will be around for a while or if it is something temporary. This will impact how important quality and cost are to you.

What is Lithographic Printing?

Lithography printing is a traditional form of printing. Often known as “offset” printing, it involves the printed image being burned onto a plate. It is then offset from the plate to a rubber blanket. After that, it is printed onto the paper. The process to get started can be a bit time-consuming, but the machines have improved dramatically over the years. It ensures that the cost is lower, and that the setup is faster than it once was.

While many printing companies have switched entirely to digital, Custom Printing still utilizes lithographic printing (along with digital printing) because we feel that it is still useful in many instances.

There is an expense involved with the setup of litho because of making the plates. However, it can be more cost-effective when looking at the per-page cost when a large print run is being made.

In many instances, litho printing is considered “wet” because of the type of ink that is used. The wet ink is what helps the image to conform to some of the irregular surfaces in the print material. Additionally, although the printing is wet, it actually uses less ink than digital printing.

Lithography printing is well known for offering exceptional quality, particularly when color is important to you.

Common Options for Lithography Printing

When state-of-the-art lithography machines are used, it can offer the kind of quality, capacity, and speed that you demand. Plus, there are plenty of customizations that can be offered – particularly when you work with printing professionals.

There are quite a few instances when you’ll want to choose lithography over digital.

If you plan on having something printed on textured paper, such as for a specific marketing purpose, litho is capable of providing the better quality. You’ll want to compare the various paper stocks to consider how much of a difference it’s going to offer.

If you are going to print something with a large block of color coverage, litho is also the better option. Pantones are used by lithography machines, allowing you to get the true color. Otherwise, you’re depending on digital machines to match the color as closely as possible. Additionally, if you plan on making use of metallic inks, litho will be able to give you the regal look using gold, silver, and other metallic inks.

Particularly with printing photos, litho will offer you the better quality. It can offer a softer look – and UV varnishing is also made possible for lithography projects, ensuring that it is capable of withstanding extensive outdoor exposure.

Large runs of catalogs, brochures, and letterhead can be cost-effective when you use litho. If you’re using any of the printed items to focus on your branding, quality matters. You don’t want to risk your reputation on dry printing that cannot offer colorful images. Additionally, we can work with you to ensure that every component of your print has been taken into consideration – the print material, the colors, and the finishing touches.

Lithography vs. Digital

There’s a big decision to make – and it can be easy depending on what it is that you’re printing.

Lithography printing offers a few main pros that you cannot ignore: Image quality, speed, and volume.

Digital printing offers the pros that lithography cannot, including precision, a faster set-up, and the ability to personalize mail pieces. Of course, it is possible to combine both lithography and digital printing if you’re going to work on a direct mail campaign.

There are questions you have to ask yourself to determine whether litho is right for your print job.

  • How big is your print run?
  • What kind of medium do you want to print on?
  • Are you conducting a mail-run?
  • What’s your budget?

The larger the print run, the more effective it becomes for you to use lithography, no matter what your other printing goals may be. The plates can also be kept so that you can reduce the setup when you decide that you want more prints made later on.

Litho allows you to print on a wide array of substrate weights. While digital is catching up, there’s simply more that lithography machines can work with, especially when texture comes into play.

If you’re conducting a mail-run, you have to consider that digital printing is done on a computer. It allows you to feed data into the system. Each postcard, brochure, or catalog can be printed with an individual name and address. It can simplify the process and offer you the level of customization that is needed – without having to create plates for each customization.

Finally, the print cost has to be a consideration. Digital printing tends to be the cheaper option when you have a small print run. The simple reason for this is because you don’t need to incur the cost of setting up a plate (or plates). As you print more, litho becomes the more affordable option.

Seasoned print professionals can guide you toward the best method based on what you’re printing and the results that you want to achieve. Once we know what you’re going to print and how many copies you need, we can make recommendations and provide you with a quote.

Are You Ready to Get Started with Lithography Projects?

Your lithography printing project needs to focus on quality. For decades, Custom Printing has been the choice for individuals and small businesses from around the country. We offer premium offset lithography that utilizes state-of-the-art equipment. We have worked with custom catalog printing, full-color brochure printing, and even business letterhead printing.

We take a custom approach with every customer to ensure that you have the quality printing needed to reach your goals and promote your brand. Cost isn’t everything. Although digital printing has taken over, lithography projects are still beneficial in many ways.

Contact us to get a quote for your project today. We’ll work with you to ensure you love what’s printed for you.