19 May 2011 - Printing Series 1: Is lithographic printing dying out?

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19 May 2011 - Printing Series 1: Is lithographic printing dying out?

The 'death' of lithographic print has been hyped over the last couple of years. But I have to say, this is not my experience.

Never has there been such a diverse range of different kinds of lithographic printing available. With a fantastic range of recycled or FSC paper products and increasing creative print finishes on the market, the consumer is spoilt for choice.

If you require your repro to be 240 screen stochastic or an uncoated profiled 200 screen they are available at most leading printers. You can have a Carbon Neutral publication for your annual report or company brochure. The inks that are used are often vegetable based with modern pigments that make colour jump out. Waste is recycled, printing plates are turned into Aluminium cans.

There has been tremendous investment by many of the major players in the market. Park invested £3m in its lithographic printing presses three years ago and plans to invest again before the end of the year. It is unlikely that the investment would have been made if the future looked bleak for litho.

Of course there is a place for digital print. If you require 20 copies of a board report printed overnight then a Xerox type solution would suit your needs. If you need 200 copies of a fine art booklet printed in a day then Indigo would be the best solution. If your requirement is 500 copies of an annual report produced in 48 hours then you should consider litho. It is simply a case of horses for courses.

Of course, digital printing machines suffer from unreliability, and engineers can become regular visitors, but there are other problems. There is still the same lack of choice of papers as there was 5 years ago.  They still can’t produce a high gloss or matt varnish, and are restricted in the size of sheet they can print on.

Inkjet technology perhaps provides some insight into the future of printing. There are now colour inkjet presses that can print double-sided four colours at 400 ft per minute with a print resolution up to 1200 x 600 dpi. This type of printing is currently being trialled within the publishing industry. I am sure with further investment and research this type of printing will form part of the future story.

In my view the future of printing is bright, be it litho or digital. We have seen our industry contract in size with only the leanest and brightest businesses succeeding.

We take pride in producing beautiful, accurate and cost-effective printed products and litho is still leading the way.

Richard Fingland works for Park Communications. Park provides a one-point-of-contact managed service to translate, print, distribute and store all of your literature.

Richard has been in the printing industry for 13 years, during which time he has worked on both aspects of Customer Services and Sales.  He joined Park as an accomplished technical print production and Customer Service Executive, who in the last 6 years has taken a sales role.  Richard account directs, secure Government, political and charity projects.  He also specialises in high quality print for marketing.


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