Making The Right Label Printing Choices

There are several elements to ensuring that your labels are printed correctly by professionals. These include your label design, desired colours and type of paper being printed on. But the manner in which your inkjet labels are printed can also make a big difference. And here, your choices will be digital and lithographic printing. Each has its own set of benefits and disadvantages.

The Digital v. Lithographic Difference

Digital printing sees your image being sent right from your or your chosen printing company’s computer to printed form without any steps in between. Lithographic printing involves first burning the received image onto a plate, which is transferred to a rubber medium and then printed.

Colour Quality

Lithographic printing is great if you need the colours on your labels to match Pantone colours. This is because the lithographic printing process uses Pantone brand ink. Pantone represents the industry standard for colour. This is a benefit because regardless of the printer you choose, as long as you have chosen to use Pantone colours in your design, your printer can match the inks exactly. This means far less guess work and adjustment to the colours on your labels and ultimately, less time for the completion of your printing job.

Labels that are printed using the digital method will have no standard by which to match colour; instead, colour needs to be simulated by matching cyan, magenta, yellow and black in particular combinations. In some cases, a professional printer will have printing presses equipped with high-quality systems for matching colours. When in doubt, it’s best to ask your chosen printer.


Because digital printing takes less time for set-up, less of a cost tends to be involved. As well, usually with digital printing there are no initial costs or minimum print runs to be concerned about before your labels are printed. For labels needing various names, numerical sequences or addresses, digital printing can offer a cost-effective choice.

The fact that plates need to be created adds cost to the lithographic option. This type of printing requires proofing to ensure that the correct finish and colours are being produced which also adds to the cost. However, the more labels you plan to print, the lower the cost the job will be.

Proofing Time

Any quality printer will provide a proof of your printing job. Lithographic proofs, as with the actual print job will require a plate to be made. As well, the printing press will need to be set up to make the proof. Digital proofs offer accuracy, as the printed proof you receive will look exactly like the final product.

Choice of Materials

Thanks to recent technological advances, digital printing can be done on a number of materials of varying finishes and weights. However, if you want your printing done on an unusual or rarely-used material, the lithographic printing process can offer a high degree of reliability as well.

How Long Will It Take?

The lithographic printing process requires drying time, simply because of the way in which ink is transferred to the material during printing. Thus, it can take several days before printing can be considered to be completed. But with digital printing, you can often pick up your labels 24 hours after having sent the artwork to your printer.

As stated earlier, there are many considerations when you wish to have labels printed professionally. At the end of the day, your chosen printing method will depend not only on the length of time you wish to wait, but what kind of quality you want your labels to have, as well as what material you are printing your labels on.

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