In an earlier blog we discussed the history of printing. But currently there are two methods of printing these are Lithography and Digital, but which will save me money?
Why is there never a simple answer to what appears to be a simple question? To answer the question it is necessary to explain something of how both processes work.
Lithography requires printing plates these are generally made of aluminium, and require fitting onto the machine and registering the different colours into the correct fit and mixing the inks, even on the latest machines that do not require plates these are very expensive. All of these set up costs are the same if you print 1 copy or 1 million copies. Therefore the greater the quantity the lower the unit cost, Lithography is ideal for longer runs.
Traditionally if you wanted 50 business cards or 100 leaflets it was not worth printing them using the Litho method, because in the case of business cards they could end up costing almost one pound each and you would be afraid to give them away! But no longer now we have Digital Printing, based on laser printer technology, the unit cost is based on the ‘click’ charge and machine costs and is the same no matter how long the run. The problem is that the unit cost is relatively high! So ideal for short runs as the quantity goes up it reaches a point when the set up costs of litho are less than the ‘click charge’! An ideal use would be a restaurants menu which may change daily. At Promotion House we have found the break even point is around 500 copies it depends on the size of the sheet and how many images you can get on a sheet! The other unique advantage of Digital is that you can mail merge, (personalise each copy) i.e. number or ad a name and address!
- The toner is fused onto the paper with heat, if you have your letterheads printed digitally then in your office you use a laser printer on your computer to print the letter the heat from your laser could lift the digital image from the paper making a mess inside your laser printer! This isn’t a problem in ink jets as there is no heat.
- On older Digital printers the image can crack when the leaflets are folded so they need to be scored first.
- NCR material (used for Pads) will not feed very well in Digital machines
CONCLUSION …. AT THIS POINT IN TIME Digital presses are cheaper for short runs with the caution regarding letterheads.
Using the correct method will save you money!
The Print Doctor