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Choosing a printing method for letterheads

14th August 2015

You may have noticed printers talking about digital and lithographic printing. These are the two main printing methods for small format print and both have benefits and drawbacks. Digital printing is often a great choice for printing items such as leaflets and posters in small quantities up to around 1000 copies as it is a much cheaper alternative to litho printing.

However as it turns out – letterheads are the exception to the rule! Shall we find out why?

Digital printing problems for letterheads
When you print digitally, heat is used to fuse the toner on to the paper. For materials like flyers and brochures which are printed in their finished state ready to use, this is a great option. However because one of the main purposes of a letterhead is to feed them back through a printer in your offer, this means it can get reheated and cause the toner to come off the paper. This may result in the letterhead being smudged and unusable, but even worse it could cause serious problems to the mechanism in the printer.

Select your printer carefully…
Luckily as long as you choose the right printer you can avoid these issues. Inkjet and dot matrix printers do not use heat as part of their printing process. This means that a digitally printed letterhead can run through the printer without any concerns. However laser printers are commonly used in office environments – these printers and essentially smaller scale versions of a digital printers. This means that the heat used can cause chaos when printing your letterheads.

What are your options?
If you have a laser printer then one option is to always choose to print your letterheads lithographically. This could be a good option for a bigger company who will easily go through 5,000 or 10,000 letterheads. However for small or start-up businesses who cannot justify the increased cost of printing litho this is not a viable option. Whilst you could risk using digitally printed letterheads it may not be worth the risk, and instead you could invest in a cheap second hand inkjet printer as it could actually be cheaper than choosing to print small batches of your letterheads lithographically.

Litho vs digital
Whilst digitally printed letterheads can be considerably cheaper in small volumes, litho printing does produce a slightly higher quality result. Litho printing is particularly good for printing watermarks, which are often a feature on company letterheads as it allows the ink to sink in to the paper in a way that digital print does not achieve. Litho print also produces a smoother finish which might be important for a premium company, whereas digital print can cause a slight ripple due to the heat processed used.

In conclusion you need to take a number of factors in to account when choosing the best printing method for your letterhead considering cost, quantity and quality to find the best solution for your printed letterheads.


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