There are lots of decisions that go into creating the perfect marketing campaign. You have to find the perfect audience, write the perfect copy, and design the perfect graphics. This is why graphic designers spend hours agonizing over every little detail of their marketing materials, from the colours on the page to the type of printing they use.

If you’re a novice graphic designer, you may not even know that there are different types of printing. But in fact, there are three primary methods for marketing or branding materials, and the one you use depends entirely on your company’s needs.

Let’s take a look at these assorted methods and the ways they can benefit your next marketing campaign:

Offset Litho Printing High-quality prints in large volumes
Digital Printing High-quality prints in small quantities
Screen Printing Non-paper promo products

Offset Litho Printing

If your company regularly orders large-scale print jobs, you’ve probably heard the term “litho printing” once or twice. This print method has been around since the 19th century (or even earlier), but it is still in use today. Litho printing is especially popular for large-scale print jobs, as it usually costs a flat rate (so 10,000 prints will cost the same as 100,000).

How Does it Work?

To understand how offset litho printing works, you simply need to look at the name. “Offset” refers to the fact that the ink is transferred from another source before printing, rather than printing directly onto paper; “litho” refers to the aluminum etching, or “lithograph,” used in the printing process.

Offset litho printing starts by etching a digital file onto an aluminum plate. This plate is coated in paint (one colour at a time) and then rolled onto a cylindrical rubber “blanket”. Finally, the blanket rolls onto the printing material. This process is repeated with each subsequent color until you have a beautifully finished print!

When Should You Use It?

Offset litho printing results in beautiful, sharp images in rich colours. This makes it a popular form of printing for marketing materials like mouse pads, branded coasters, plastic menus and other similar promotional items. It is also a great option if you want high-quality posters, business cards, or flyers.

However, there is one caveat to this printing method: it is really only used for high-volume orders. Because of the cost involved in set up and materials, offset litho printing isn’t really worthwhile for small jobs. If you want to print a few thousand posters, consider offset printing — but if your campaign has a smaller reach, you’d be better off with another method.

Digital Printing

If you’ve ever used your office printer to print out a photo, congratulations — you’re already familiar with digital printing! This is the method that comes to mind when most people think of “printing,” and thanks to modern tech development, it is easier than ever to get professional-looking work from digital printing.

How Does it Work?

Digital printing differs from offset printing in both method and materials. Instead of using traditional inks, digital printing uses powdered toners to print directly onto paper from a digital file (like a PDF). There is no transferring from a separate source (like the lithograph or rubber blanket), which reduces the cost for materials.

Digital printing has not always been the preferred choice for marketing materials, as it typically resulted in low-resolution, blurry images. However, today’s professional printers are much better than ones from even a few years ago. Many digital prints are just as clear and vivid as offset print jobs — and digital printing costs are significantly lower than offset printing.

When Should You Use It?

Digital printing is a great choice for flyers, posters, business cards, brochures, or any other printed promo materials you might need for a marketing campaign. However, just like with offset printing, it is important to consider the size of your order before committing to any one printing method.

Printer ink is highly expensive; in 2019, it was priced at over £2,000 per gallon — more expensive than liquid gold! Therefore, if you are planning to print thousands of flyers or brochures, your digital printing costs will add up very quickly. If you’re doing smaller print jobs, however, this can be a simple and cost-effective option.

Screen Printing

Like digital printing, screen printing is something many of us encounter on a daily basis. Any time you’ve worn a branded t-shirt or sipped from a branded glass at your favorite pub, you’re dealing with the finished product of a screen printing process! This is the go-to method for printing on glass, fabric, wood, and other uncommon materials.

How Does it Work?

To screen print an image onto a t-shirt, pane of glass, or other material, the printer starts by transferring the image onto a fine mesh screen (hence the name). Then, the printer covers the empty parts of the image (the areas you want blank) with a substrate to keep it clean and ink-free. Finally, the printer presses ink through the fine holes in the mesh sheet, where they ultimately settle onto the finished product.

When Should You Use It?

As we mentioned earlier, screen printing is best suited to marketing materials made from non-paper products. Most often, businesses use this method for custom promotional “swag.” If you want to create a t-shirt or tote bag to promote your business, screen printing is going to be the best way to go!

It is important to note that you can also use digital printing for non-paper products (though you probably can’t use your home printer to make a t-shirt). However, screen printing is the ideal method if you want your product to have vibrant and rich colours; screen printing ink is thicker than the powered toners in digital printing, and as such they tend to look brighter when the product is finished.

Professional Printing Made Easy

Learning about the different types of printing can be overwhelming, particularly if you don’t have experience with graphic design. Luckily, there are online printers who can help you create the perfect marketing materials — no matter which type of printing you choose!

Take a look at Banana-Print’s selection of custom printed products today, and contact us if you have any questions about our products. We’re here to help you print the best flyers, business cards, or promotional materials!