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Digital or Traditional printing?

At Newspaper Club there are two types of printing: digital and traditional.

Digital printing

When we talk about digital newspapers, we mean newspapers that have been printed on a digital printer. It's our most popular method of printing a newspaper. It uses new technology (effectively a large, fast, expensive inkjet printer) to print anything from one copy to hundreds at an affordable price. The newspapers are printed in a batch (or 'print run') onto one giant roll of newsprint, which is then cut and folded by machine into individual newspapers.

It is the fastest method of printing, with most digital newspapers being delivered in 2-5 working days in the UK. It is possible to print hundreds of copies digitally, but it usually becomes cheaper to print traditionally around 300-500 copies. 

 

Traditional printing

What we call traditional newspaper printing uses a web-offset press, just like any daily newspaper. The traditional press is huge - it's designed to print thousands of newspapers at a time. As it's such a large press, it is not cost-effective to print less than 300 copies traditionally. In fact, most newspaper printers won't print less than 1,000 at a time.

If you would like a newspaper that has the look and feel of one you'd find in a newsagent this is the method to go for. All standard daily newspapers are printed this way.

What is a web offset press?

A web offset newspaper press uses giant reels or 'webs' of newsprint and four colours of ink - cyan, magenta, yellow and 'key' (black), usually abbreviated to CMYK. The artwork is imaged by laser onto aluminium printing plates, one for each colour. The colours are then printed onto the running web of paper, in sequence Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black, resulting in the complete full colour image.

Photo

The separate webs of paper then come together and are slit, cut again, folded, stacked and packaged. The whole process is very fast – it typically takes less than 30 seconds from the ink going onto the paper to the finished newspaper being boxed, or palletised for distribution.

Inking

Newspaper printing is a cold-set lithographic process using oil based inks and water in the printing process. The ink contains no volatile solvents and no heat is used, so the ink dries mainly by absorbing into the paper. This is quite a slow process and is why you can sometimes rub ink off a newspaper. It can also lead to some marking of the newspapers as they are folded and stacked, particularly if the newspaper design includes very dark images on pages opposite lighter pages.

Registration

The registration is the name given to the alignment of the colour plates. It's difficult to keep this precise, especially on smaller runs, so it's important to reduce the risk of mis-registration in your design. It is particularly important to try and avoid printing small text in colour, or in white on a background colour. This is one reason why newspapers generally use black text throughout. If you want to use colour in this way, try to stick to one of the main CMYK colours – cyan and magenta work well (yellow is not very readable on its own).

How to choose

Order size

For most people, the number of copies required determines the printing type. Usually, fewer than 300 copies are cheaper to print digitally and more than 300 copies are cheaper traditionally.

Paper stock and finishing

With traditional printing there is a greater choice of paper stock and finishing options. Find out how to choose your newspaper

Print quality

Both printing types produce good results (within the limitations of newspaper printing). Some people prefer traditional to digital and vice versa. Digital papers are often more forgiving with fine detail as registration isn't an issue, but the colours can be richer and deeper with traditional printing. The choice often depends on the individual newspaper and the expectations of the customer so please contact us if you're unsure about which one to go for.

Speed

Digital newspapers are generally sent out more quickly than traditional newspapers (as the small runs are quicker to print).

Proofs and test prints

With digital printing it's easy to print one copy to test something out. With traditional printing it's not really possible to do this as hundreds of copies need to be run through the press to print a single copy.

See a sample

If you would like to see examples of digital and traditional printing, you can request a free sample.