Spot Color Printing VS. 4-Color Process Digital Printing

When making design considerations for printed matter, it is critical to understand the advantages and disadvantages to both spot color screen printing and digital graphic printing. ECI can work with you to help you decide what process will help achieve an aesthetically and functionally viable product, all within the parameters of your budget.

Spot Color Screen Printing

screen Advantages:

Cost Effective at Moderate & High Volumes

While much of the time and labor is incurred during the screen printing press setup/ink changeover, screen printing becomes cost effective on moderate and high volume print jobs.

Opaque and Saturated Color Gamut

ECI’s knowledge of pigmentation and many different ink chemistries allows for our production team to be able to achieve a vast color gamut unachievable by any other form of printmaking.

ECI Offers Spot Color Repeatability within a ΔE of Less than 1.00

If color is a critical quality measure for you and your team, ECI can guarantee a ΔE of less than 1.00 within any singular production run, and from batch to batch regardless of the date of manufacture.

Dimensional Output within +/-0.001”

ECI’s stringent quality standards and thorough knowledge of all screen printing processes allows for a finished dimensional output of +/-.001”. As a finished assembly, ECI can guarantee as tight of a color-to-color registration tolerance of +/-.005”, and a print-to-cut registration tolerance of +/-.005”


digital Advantages:

Capable of Producing Fine Halftone Line Screens/Color Gradients

Although ECI has the knowledge and expertise to screen print fine halftone line screens, occasionally the most exotic/photographic prints lend themselves much better to digital printing in regard to costs and overall processing times.

Cost Effective with Low Run Quantities/Graphics with Many Colors

Since digital printing processes multiple colors within one processing cycle, ECI is often able to help your team achieve a cost effective manufacturing option when your design to be printed has many different colors.

Fast Turnaround Times for Prototyping/Sampling

If your prototype assembly requires a colorful industrial graphic in time for your next trade show or sales meeting, ask ECI about our quick-turn digital printing capabilities – in today’s era of digital technology, ECI is steadfast in collaborating with you to bring your product to market as soon as possible!

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screen Considerations:

Less Cost Effective at Low Volumes

While the production cycle times of screen printing are typically very fast, it takes even the most experienced operator a considerable amount of time to set up a screen printing press. If an order for a screen printed part is for a low quantity, the labor costs associated with the setup time of a screen press becomes more apparent; as the order quantity increases, the amortization of the setup labor costs into the part’s piece price becomes much less impactful.

Color Gradients are More Challenging and Time Consuming to Reproduce

ECI has the technical know-how to reproduce screen printed color gradients/halftones up to a 133 line screen. This process is more labor intensive, and can potentially take more time to produce. While halftones can be incorporated into screen printed industrial graphics, it is not cost effective when considering four color process or simulated process screen printing.

The Number of Spot Colors can Impact a Part’s Piece Price

When spot color printing, each color is printed one at a time; every color printed requires a separate screen exposure, batch of ink, and press setup. Due to the setup costs of layering each screen printed step one at a time, every color utilized can potentially increase the cost of any given screen printed part.

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digital Considerations:

Poor Ink Opacity

Digitally printed inks are far less opaque than that of screen printed inks; this nuance of digital printing makes it less ideal as a manufacturing method for applications that require high opacity, more color saturation, and masking light leakage from illuminated electronic components.

Color Repeatability of Digital Printing is Not As Precise as Screen Printing

ECI’s digital printing staff consistently calibrates all presses, and will always accurately target known color matching standards; however, due to the inherently limited color gamut of digital printing, and the complexity of color profiling, color matching is typically more repeatable from batch to batch when screen printing.