Digital print vs litho print

Understanding the difference between digital and litho printing is important to ensure you are making the right decision when printing your new business cards, brochure or flyer. So which process is right for you?

As a general rule of thumb, digital print production is more suitable for shorter runs and offset lithography is more suitable for longer runs. However, there are other factors you need to consider - weight and type of stock, turnaround required, and quality of print.


Which jobs are most suited to digital printing?

  • Quick turnaround: If you need it fast, digital usually offers a quicker turnaround as there are no complicated setups required.
  • Shorter print runs: A low volume project where only a small number of copies are required will generally be more cost effective when printed digitally. Short runs are generally 1-500.
  • Limited stock weight: Digital printers can print on a variety of different stocks up to a maximum of 350gsm. Most marketing communications are likely to be suited to stock weights below 350gsm but if you are looking to print on something heavier then you'd need to look at litho.
  • Variable data printing: If you are looking to produce personalised communications, digital is by far the best printing method as each print is unique. The printer can pull in text and graphics from a database to personalise each printout and produce highly targeted communications.

A big advantage to digital printing is that you only print the quantity you need, as and when you need it. Waste is therefore reduced.

Which jobs are most suited to litho printing?

  • Slower turnaround: Litho printing generally can take 7-10 days due to the processes involved.
  • Longer print runs: With litho printing, the unit cost goes down as the quantity goes up so can be very cost effective for high volume printing. Long runs are generally 500+.
  • Large variety of stocks: Litho printers can print on a large variety of stocks up to 500gsm
  • Metallic colours: If you require metallic colours such as gold or silver, this is best printed litho.

Historically, litho print has always been the best printing method for quality. However, there has been a substantial improvement in digital printing technology and where top end digital printers are used, there is very little difference between the two.

At Sixothree, we work with a number of printers who specialise in high quality printing, both digital and litho. Together, we will be able to advise the best printing solution for your project. For more information, please call Karen on 07908 610 190 or email karen@sixothree.co.uk.