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What types of poster printing are there?

Poster Printing

There are several types of poster printing for both commercial and domestic applications.

Digital Poster Printing

Digital poster printing is a fairly new printing method. It came into popular use around 1991, following the success of Iris Graphics’ groundbreaking IRIS Printer. As time went by, the IRIS printer (traditionally used for creating fine art giclee prints) was replaced by similar machines manufactured by larger companies like Epsom and Kodak.

Digital poster printing involves giving ink particles a charge, then directing the charge to a certain place on the paper or cardstock being used.

Typically, digital print (especially laser digital print) is used for shorter runs, and less frequently for poster printing.

Lithographic poster printing

Lithographic printing involves the use of large steel plates spread with ink. It’s a more expensive option than digital poster printing, but offers better quality, especially for larger applications.

Typically, lithographic poster printing is used for high-volume poster runs, as well as books, maps, newspapers, and packaging.

With lithographic poster printing, large areas of solid colour can be printed in high quality.

Additionally, PANTONE colours can be specially mixed and used for maximum colour matching. This differs from digital poster printing in that digital images must be converted from RGB colour format to CYMK: a colour grading system which prints images using a mix of Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (K).

With lithographic poster printing, colours are ‘exact match’ – this makes lithographic printing the method of choice for fine art prints and large-scale posters.

Poster printing options

Typically, posters are printed on cardstock. They can be finished in a number of ways, depending on the preference of the customer.

  • High Gloss
    High gloss poster printing gives the widest range for vibrant colours, including luminous tones. However, high gloss poster printing is not advised for use in locations with bright lighting, as there will be a substantial amount of glare.
  • Semi Gloss
    Semi-gloss poster printing is the most popular method. The reduced amount of gloss makes for less glare (and fewer sticky fingerprint smudges) but still allows for wide colour range and PANTONE matching.
  • Matte
    Matte poster printing has the least sheen, giving an elegant and specialist finish.

Should I choose digital or lithographic poster printing?

The choice you make for your poster printing will likely depend on your budget, as well as your timescale. Digital printing is cheaper, quicker, and better suited to smaller print runs.

For larger poster printing runs where quality is more important, go for lithographic printing (only if you have the budget and time). Lithographic printing will also work best for poster printing over A3 size, such as commercial banners, flags, and canvases.

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