What is digital printing?
Digital printing is the process of printing digital-based images directly onto a variety of media substrates. There is no need for a printing plate, unlike with offset printing. Digital files such as PDFs or desktop publishing files can be sent directly to the digital printing press to print on paper, photo paper, canvas, fabric, synthetics, cardstock and other substrates.
Digital printing vs offset printing
Digital printing differs from traditional, analogue printing methods – such as offset printing – because digital printing machines do not require printing plates. Instead of using metal plates to transfer an image, digital printing presses print the image directly onto the media substrate.
Digital production print technology is evolving quickly, and digital printing output quality is improving continuously. These advancements are delivering print quality that mimics offset. Digital printing enables additional advantages, including:
- Personalised, variable data printing (VDP);
- Cost-effective short runs; and
- Fast turnarounds.
Digital printing technology
Most digital printing presses have historically used toner-based technology and as that technology quickly evolved, the print quality rivalled that of offset presses.
In recent years, inkjet technology has simplified digital print accessibility as well as the cost, speed and quality challenges facing print providers today.
Digital printing advantages and disadvantages
Digital printing technology excels at producing on-demand and short print runs quickly and cost-effectively. Digital printing is also an ideal platform for personalisation. If you want to easily modify images and messages using variable data printing (VDP), then digital printing is the only way to go. With advancements in print quality and speed, digital printing’s previous disadvantages are quickly disappearing, and digital printing machines are closing the gap on offset output.
Digital printing inks
Digital printing inks include cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) toner and ink, as well as extended colour gamut inks such as orange, blue and green as well as specialty dry inks for metallic, white or clear effects.
Types of digital print media
Digital printing machines can print on everything from thick cardstock, heavyweight papers and folding cartons to fabric, plastics and synthetic substrates. T-shirt printing is a very popular digital printing application, and some digital printers can print on other fabrics besides t-shirts, including linen and polyester.