Business often employ the services of a graphic designer to create some awesome product literature or advertising for their marketing.

For example, they might get some roller banner graphics designed for use at trade shows and fairs, or to have permanently on display in reception areas.

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Once those designs or graphics have been created by a graphic designer and approved by the firm in question, the next step is to get those designs and graphics printed out.

If you have never had anything printed out before, then you will discover that there are two basic ways a professional printing firm can print out your material – digitally and lithographically.

If you are unsure which option is best for you, then continue reading to find out more information about both types of printing so that you can make an informed decision as to which option is suitable for your requirements.

What is digital printing?

Digital printing in a nutshell is the process of printing graphics out directly from a digital image.

For example, if you have an image designed in vector format and in CMYK format (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) using a computer program such as Adobe Illustrator, the printing firm can essentially print out your graphics directly from such a file.

There are no mechanical steps required for digital printing, and the process can be likened in some respects to sending a print job to a printer from your personal computer.

Should I use digital printing?

Digital printing is an attractive option to many businesses. It is considerably cheaper than lithographic printing due to the fact that there are no mechanical steps involved and is especially useful for low-volume print runs.

If you need a large volume of items printed out in a relatively short period of time, then digital printing is the best option for you. The only downside to digital printing is that even the best quality digital printers used cannot match the quality offered by lithographic printing.

What is lithographic printing?

Business that require posters, maps, packaging or anything printing out that must be of high quality opt for lithographic printing of their graphics. Officially known as offset lithography, the process involves the transferring of graphics and texts to printing plates using special chemicals and photographic techniques.

The details from the plate are then transferred to a rubber blanket which in turn is transferred onto the printing surface. Ink rollers transfer ink to the printing surface and water covers the surface of any non-printable areas.

Should I use lithographic printing?

If your requirements demand only the highest quality for your graphics, then lithographic printing is the way forward. The great thing about lithographic printing is that you can print on all sorts of surfaces apart from paper, such as wood, clothing, metal, leather and plastic.

Lithographic printing tends to be expensive in comparison to digital printing, however, if you are printing large volume jobs out then it can work out pretty cost-effective per unit. And because of the many mechanical processes involved, it can take longer to receive the finished product than if you went down the digital printing route.