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One of the services we offer at Dot Design is the buying of print or print management as part of design projects. This can range from printing 100 flyers digitally to lithographically printing 50,000 festival programmes.
But to those individuals or companies who wish to source their own print it can be a tricky process so hopefully, this short guide to printing digitally or lithographically will help.
There are two main types of print (there are others but these are the most used).
Used to be expensive and previously the quality of just a colour photocopier but in recent years has become much more affordable and far better quality.
Digital printing is usually the best option when producing around 500 or fewer copies or what’s known as a “Short Run”. Good choice for printing invitations or other items that are one-offs/short runs.
There are obvious advantages to using this method in terms of the setup time being shorter so its cheaper to produce. Image quality isn’t as good as lithographic but it is catching up quickly.
You can print digitally on to a range of stocks (papers) but most digital presses won’t print on anything thicker than 300/350gsm at the moment but I’m sure over time this thickness will increase.
Good reasons for choosing digital:
• Short Runs – you can print 1 or 250 cards, invites etc
• Quick turnaround but obviously depending on how busy the printer is
• You can see a proof and that proof will be exactly what you will get as an end result.
The not so good reasons for choosing digital:
• Not suitable for long print runs
• Quality not as good as lithographic printing
• Can only print on certain stocks and restricted to around 350gsm thickness
For a larger print runs (over 500 really) although if you want lithographic can be used for short runs, it just becomes extremely expensive compared to the number of copies. The reason lithographic is more expensive is that metal or plastic plates have to be created for each colour required for example 4 colour CMYK (full colour) would require 4 plates.
Also, more time is taken in the setup, the cost is higher but on large runs, this cost becomes cheaper per unit as once setup you really only have the cost of paper, finishing and time is taken, whereas digital you pay per unit/sheet and this price is fixed. Unlike digital its a bit more costly to produce an accurate proof for a litho print job, typically they will produce a digital proof but be careful as this is produced under a different process and will not be exactly the same in terms of colours as the finished print. If your budget will stretch to it then ask for a “Wet Proof” as this will be a proof using the same colours and process as your final item will be produced from.
The good reasons for choosing lithographic:
• Long Print Runs – you can print 500 – 500,000 or more
• Longer turnaround but this does depend on the printer
• Can work out very cheap over long runs
• Excellent quality and a large range of finishes such as gloss lamination etc
The not so good reasons for choosing lithographic:
• Expensive for short runs because of setup time etc.
• Longer to produce – typically 5 working days is what most printers will advise depending on how busy they are
There are more good and bad points to these processes of printing but these are the basics.
If sourcing a printer always ask for samples of previous work, like a designer you want evidence of their abilities in producing a good job for you and this will be a good indication.
Because Dot Design use high quality and trusted printers regularly for our print material we are able to negotiate a better price than most individuals would, so its always worth asking us for a quote just so you can compare.
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