Printing Methods Explained

Litho Press

There are 4 main printing methods: Digital, Large Format Digital, Lithographic and Web. Most Printers will have 1 or 2 capabilities and a small selection will have all 4 (like us).

Make sure that your chosen Printer is suited to the job at hand, for example, a quote on a long run of Duplicate Pads from a Lithographic Printer may well be much more expensive than a quote from a Web Printer, or a quote from a Printer running a B2 Lithographic Press may be more than a Printer running a B1 Lithographic Press. Some Printers are more geared up for specific items/volumes and therefore can produce them at a fraction of the cost, so sourcing the right Printer is essential.

Mainly used for short runs (quantities below 500 approx.) with short to medium extents (up to approx. 500pp, e.g. manuals). Also used for short run colour work such as invitations, posters, menus and event material etc. It is suitable for jobs up to and including A3 sized paper although some printers cater for A2 digital but it’s not as common.
Paper Weights: Approximately 300gsm-350gsm maximum.

Large Format Digital
Mainly used for larger sizes than A3, e.g. posters, wall charts/planners, displays, banners.
Paper Weights: Substrates can vary, e.g. plastic, paper, cloth, etc. Check with your printer for a substrate that will suit your needs, i.e. outdoor displays or large indoor banners etc.

Lithographic (Litho)
Known in the industry as the best quality printing method, litho print is mainly used for full colour work and longer runs (quantities above 500) with medium to long extents (greater than 500pp), although nowadays some Printers (such as us) are able to offer short run lithographic print, usually Printers with the volume to batch print (running multiple jobs at the same time).
Paper Weights: Approximately 60gsm – 400gsm. The maximum print size of machines will vary by Printer, as a guide a B1 Press can take 1020mm x 720mm sheets, a B2 Press 720mm x 520mm sheets and a B3 Press 520mm x 360mm sheets, although actual print areas will be smaller than these dimensions.

Mainly used for large extent book work such as newspapers, encyclopaedias, dictionaries and specialised prints such as No Carbon Required (NCR).
Paper Weights: Approximately 32gsm-60gsm maximum. Very lightweight papers only as the paper is supplied on rolls.

Author – Eugene Tyson