Digital Printing & Short Run Printing

Considering digital printing? Before you read anything about digital printing take a look at The Digital Printing and Imaging Associations home page. It’s a great resource for the digital printing process.

First – What is digital printing?

Printing digitally is a technology that permits the linking of printing presses to computers which proves beneficial in a number of ways: faster turnaround times, lowered production and setup costs, and the ability to personalize documents easier. This fairly new technology is prominent in the printing industry because it’s simply a more efficient way of printing.

Tip: When referring to digital printing you should be aware there are a couple of different ways to describe it, Short-Run printing, and On-Demand printing; each term is used interchangeably. For a good resource on printing terms check out Printing-Press.org. Also check out the Do’s and Don’ts of printing.

Second – The Digital Process

  • Gathering your information, i.e. image, text, or both through an analog means like scanning in your document or through a digital means like a digital camera or word processor document.
  • Converting your information; your file format needs to be converted to a useable file, such as TIFF, or EPS.
  • Setting your layout.
  • Printing can start almost immediately after your design and layout is set.

Third – Printing Methods in the Digital Realm

There are many different ways of printing in the digital printing realm. Here are some examples of the methods used by printing companies:

  • Inkjet – Currently, inkjet printing is the primary printer technology for home, home offices, and many small businesses. Inkjet printers are inexpensive and produce good color output but can be slow. Best results are normally achieved when printing to specially coated inkjet or photo papers.
  • Thermal Wax – Thermal wax printers produce vibrant color but require very smooth or specially coated paper or transparencies for best output. Thermal wax printing technology works well for businesses that need to produce large quantities of transparencies for colorful business presentations.
  • Dye Sublimation – Dye-sublimation printing methods are favored by some graphic designers for high-end proofing and by some businesses that want to produce the best possible color materials in-house.
  • Electrostatic – Electrostatic printing is a process for printing or copying in which electrostatic forces are used to form the image in powder or ink directly on the surface to be printed; the process basically uses toner instead of ink to add color spotlessly to produce media, decorative or package printing.
  • Spray Jet – This printing process is similar to the Inkjet process, however the ink is applied to the substrate using spray nozzles.

Advantages of Digital Printing

  • Cost – pre-press/setup costs are significantly lower than most plate printing methods. This makes making digital short runs much more affordable.
  • Size – Digital images can be produced in virtually any size. Output devices range in size from a few inches wide to over sixteen feet in width. For even larger graphics, images can be “tiled” and assembled in pieces.
  • Turnaround time – Digital imaging allows quick turnarounds and the ability to change images “on the fly.” Most conventional printing methods involve proofs and setup. Digital printing simplifies the process.

Printing has now recently caught up with the digital age utilizing digital means to help your business produce your printing needs faster and less expensive than ever before.

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