May 9, 2023 11:00:00 AM | 6 Min Read

The Benefits of Digital Printing vs. Litho Offset Printing

Posted By Bay Cities
The Benefits of Digital Printing vs. Litho Offset Printing

When it comes to retail display and packaging materials, corrugate has many benefits. Versatility is at the top of the list. In addition to applying to size and shape, this also applies to printing methods.

Digital printing and litho offset printing are two popular corrugate printing techniques. Wondering about digital printing vs litho offset, and which may be better for your project? It all comes down to your goals and needs.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at digital and litho offset printing, including processes, benefits, and examples of these two printing methods.

What Is Digital Printing?

Digital printing refers to a method in which images are printed directly onto surfaces. It utilizes sophisticated computers to analyze and convert the image into a printable format. This allows you to print the exact quality needed easily and on demand.


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Thanks to technological advancements, digital printing was recently featured in Ink World Magazine for its potential for the corrugate packaging market.

Pros of Digital Printing

  • Cost-effectiveness: Especially for shorter printing runs, digital printing is more affordable and boasts low set-up costs. You only pay for exactly what you want.
  • Speed: If you’re looking for a quick turnaround or to “print on demand,” digital printing leads to a fast, finished format.
  • Easy and high-quality updates and personalization: Because of its digital nature, a design can be easily changed, updated, and personalized.
  • Effective upscaling: While litho printing has historically provided the best results in terms of quality, technological advancements have bridged the gap. In fact, if you’re working with a low-resolution image, you’ll get higher-quality prints with digital printing.

Examples of Digital Printing

Examples of projects suitable for digital printing include (but aren’t limited to) short-run projects, projects requiring lots of changes and/or customization, and projects where you’re working with a low-resolution image.


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What Is Litho Offset Printing?

Also called offset lithography, litho offset printing is a traditional mass-production printing technique that uses metal plates to transfer images onto a paper label. The printed label is then laminated onto the corrugated sheet. Next, the corrugated is transferred to another machine to be die cut.

Pros of Litho Offset Printing

  • Low cost per copy: While litho offset printing is subject to a set-up charge making it less budget-friendly for short runs, it’s very affordable for large volume projects; plus, all costs are upfront.
  • More color options and accuracy: While digital printing utilizes a four-color process, litho printing does not have these limitations and is, therefore, more suitable for brand-centric printing. It can also use silver, gold, and other metallic inks.
  • A smoother look: Pixel-free litho offset printing has a smooth, seamless sheen that comes in gloss or matte finish..

Examples of Litho Offset Printing

Examples of projects suitable for litho offset printing include (but aren’t limited to) large printing runs, projects where color accuracy is essential, and very small text under 4pt type. 

Digital Printing Vs. Litho Offset: Which Is Right for You?

While there’s no clear-cut answer to the question of digital printing vs. litho offset printing, here’s a summary in a nutshell:

  • For low-volume print jobs and/or those requiring high degrees of personalization, digital printing may be preferable.
  • For large-volume print jobs that are more generic, or if you require a certain finish like UV varnishing, litho offset printing may be preferable.


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If sustainability is a priority for your brand — as it is for ours — know that both digital printing and litho offset printing can employ water-based inks and adhesives. These inks are food safe and less harsh on the environment. Additionally, water-based inks used in printing can drastically reduce or, in some cases, eliminate the use of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the printing process.

Again, while litho offset printing once produced better results than digital printing, the two are now virtually interchangeable in terms of quality, thanks to digital printing developments.

Not sure whether digital printing or litho offset printing is better for your retail display or product boxes? The Bay Cities team can help. Request a quote today.

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Topics: Digital Printing

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