Why litho printing is not suitable for small businesses

Posted by todbob on October 22nd, 2018

If you run a small business, you must be wondering which to choose from between digital printing and litho printing. What are your business needs? What difference will it make to the business in terms of profitability?


Litho has been and is still widely in use. First, we need to define the difference between these methods:

Litho printing is a method of printing whereby wet inks are used on plates to make an impression through a process. The image is transferred to a flexible plastic or plate and then printed.

Digital printing on the other hand uses digital printing methods like inkjet and laser to make images on a piece of paper using ink and toners using a color process and doesn’t require the use of plates, which makes the whole process easier and faster.

Litho too slow for small business.

Most printing businesses employ less than 10 people and rely on production to make huge profits, which means they need to produce large quantities in less time to maximize on profit. Digital printing is said to be the most suitable method for such small businesses.

Litho printing is not suitable for small businesses
because:

·First, it is not cost effective for a small business. A notable amount of cost is assigned to aking ready’ the job. The time spent in making a plate and ensuring all images are registered and ready to be run is too much but once it is done there is no need to make another one, which makes it suitable for long runs and not short runs.

Digital printing on the other hand is very cost effective and time saving. No plates are required hence there is no ake ready’ process. All that is required is the image on its right format (e.g. Pdf) and the right amount of ink or toner

·It is less efficient compared to digital printing. Litho works best on large images with one bold color which makes it limited, spot-inks are used to enhance the images. Digital printing on the other hand is owing to the four color process, can produce great images with all colors.

·Litho printing is very slow and time consuming which gives less turnaround time compared to digital printing. In addition to aking ready’ the plates for printing, time is needed for it to dry leading to low production rates.

Litho vs digital printing

Digital printing is fast and gives a quick turnaround as the job is produced in its finished format, no need to wait for it to dry- no lead time is required which leads to higher production.

·With digital printing methods, jobs can be personalized in most cases for example name, address etc. which makes each job unique to the recipient. This establishes a personalized relationship between the customer and business owner, which in turn leads to customer loyalty and higher conversion rates. Flexibility is key.

Litho on the other hand does not provide for personalization

·In terms of quality, litho has since been considered as the method that produces the best quality. Digital presses can now produce as good quality as litho, you can hardly tell the difference

·Environmental benefits. Smaller print runs translate to less waste. In the past people used to over-order with the aim of reducing unit cost because the set up cost for litho was high. Digital printing eliminates this waste since more print can be ordered in case there is need for more

In summary, here is the comparison between both methods for small businesses

Digital printing:

  • Cost effective as they are suitable for small print runs
  • Less time consuming- no lead time
  • Great quality
  • Flexible- provides for personalization which increases customer loyalty
  • Environmental friendly; only producing what is needed results to less waste

Litho printing;

  • Not cost effective for smaller businesses as they are preferably good for large
    print runs
  • Time consuming- as in making the plates and waiting for the print-outs to dry
  • Not flexible - does not provide for personalization
  • Non-environmental friendly as a result of too much waste

In conclusion, we have seen that for small businesses, digital printing is the best and most effective method to use. Producing on small runs ensures you only print material that is needed as opposed to litho printing, which is slow and leads to waste. Personalization makes customers happier which builds a relationship between the customer and the business owner. Fast production in less time translates to increased business, and well, time is money!

Authored By Nick Jonson

I worked in both Litho and digital printing industry for more than 15 years and now working for Printing London for last 5 years. Blogging and experiment about new things is my hobby.

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