All About Digital Printing
What is digital printing?
Digital printing allows someone to print on different types of material from using an electronic file. To begin the digital printing process, you will need an image that is ready to be printed, the material that is used for the printing, and a digital printer. The digital file, typically in PDF or desktop publishing file form, is sent to the digital printing press to be printed onto the material. Often, if a business or entity who wants to print doesn’t have access to a digital printer, they will need to outsource production for the printing of the materials that they need, since the digital printers themselves can range from anywhere between $5,000 to $200,000. The business will likely create a first batch, known as prototypes, confirm that it is the way they want it, and then tell the digital printing company to continue on with the production of their printed products.

More about the digital printing process
Once everything is set up, the process begins and ink is then transferred onto the surface of the fabric or material being used. This process is non-contact, meaning that no ink is technically pressed onto the materials but is transferred at a certain distance depending on the type of ink and material that is being used. The digital printer will typically use liquid ink to transfer patterns or designs to the materials. One part is then printed at a time, and it can take anywhere between 8 to 45 seconds to complete, depending on the size and the complexity of the print. This digital printing process is largely automated, since it uses a computer and a digital file to print onto the materials. As opposed to other types of printing that use physical presses and items to transfer the ink to the materials, this automated digital process provides many benefits to the entity ordering the products.

What materials are good for digital printing?
Digital printers are quite versatile and are able to print onto many different types of surfaces and fabrics. Cotton is one of the most widely used materials for digital printing because of its comfort, moisture resistance, and popularity within the consumer market. Some of the other typical materials that are good for digital printing are canvas, fabric, polyester, paper, and card stock. Digital printing can also be used for printing onto silk fabric, polyester, and other materials such as linen and even wool. Some materials have certain specifications such as how far away the ink head should be from the surface of the fabric, and what type of ink should be used for printing. Depending on how far away the nozzle is, the results of the finished products may end up being different. For instance, when printing on wool, the head of the ink jet should be farther away from the fabric than cotton or silk because the material is more complex. These differences should ideally be decided either by the business ordering the products or by the printing company, although mistakes can be corrected during a prototype phase.

Digital printing doesn’t require a manual set up
One of the biggest advantages to digital printing is that it doesn’t require a manual setup, which ends up leading to multiple different benefits of using this type of process. Unlike offset printing where someone needs to manually set the process up with printing plates and rubber blankets to transfer the images, digital printing doesn’t have this step. It instead mimics the image through the digital file and prints the images directly onto the material using ink jet technology. Because of this lack of elaborate set up time and manual labor, digital printing is often a much more effective process than offset printing. Due to the saved time and labor from eliminating this step, this allows companies and those who order their prints to get their products much quicker, and sometimes even within the same day. This lack of manual set up is one of the key factors that makes digital printing stand out from other types of printing.

Digital printing is a great option for on-demand services
One great advantage that comes from the speed of digital printing is that it can fulfill the requirements for more demanding projects. Since digital printing doesn’t require a manual set up, this makes it a great option for situations like on-demand printing and short projects otherwise known as “short print runs”. Since digital printing is faster than many other types of printing, it is a convenient option for fulfilling on-demand orders which otherwise would be very costly under other circumstances. If someone had a short turnaround and used other types of printing processes like offset printing, they may have to delay their production timeline because it could take much longer. Overall, digital printing is a good solution for anything that needs to go at a relatively fast pace.

Digital printing allows for low cost prototypes
If the project someone is running requires evaluating a prototype of either the first print or first batch of items, digital printing also has a leg up on this with quick prototypes. A common hurdle that most businesses need to address when they enter production is simply seeing that their printed product is satisfactory. If they aren’t able to check their products or if the cost is too much for prototypes, the business may face the risk that the entire order may be incorrect or unsatisfactory. If this is the case, the company may have to run the entire project again to create a more favorable result. In offset printing, the initial sample order will be a huge cost, which is hard to overcome through sales or other measures. Yet, with digital printing, it is very easy to receive prototypes not only faster but also with less of a cost. This is a huge advantage for digital printing and should be considered when evaluating the many different printing options.

Digital printing is good for lower volume projects.
Digital printing is also a good option for low volume projects since it is much cheaper than alternate routes. When a business wants to order in less quantity rather than create a large production of printed products, digital printing is often the preferred way to go. This option is great for small companies who want to make prints or small businesses who are looking to fulfill a lower volume printing order. In contrast, offset printing would be a good option for mass productions, since the expense is very costly. This is due to the offset process taking longer and having a much more elaborate process. The cost for offset printing would only be worth it if a company or entity was in need of a lot of production, in which a company would likely make a deal to reduce the cost by purchasing all of the printed products in a bulk order.

Digital printing produces great quality
With digital printing, there are almost never any errors with the quality, since the process is greatly automated and very controlled. The colors will always be reliable and vibrant, and any lines that are printed would be defined and visible to the eye. There are many more colors available with digital printing as opposed to other methods, which can also lead to a higher quality looking product. In addition, because each print is done with an automated process, each result should be identical to the next. The option of digital printing is great if someone is looking for a good way to get a high quality and consistent printed product.

Digital printing is better for the environment
In comparison to offset printing and other sorts of processes, digital printing is a much better option if you consider the environmental impact that printing causes. Since digital printing doesn’t require the plating process and other related steps, less equipment is involved in both the setup and the production of the printing. The result of this is energy conservation and a better impact on the environment. If you are interested in conserving our natural surroundings, digital printing is a good option to go with.

Overall, digital printing is a very efficient and timely way for a business to fulfill their printing needs. The accuracy gained from this new technology is slowly becoming an unbeatable option. From the wide array of materials that can be printed on, to the cost benefits, time benefits, quality assurance, effective process, and even environmental impact benefits, it is a great option to consider under many circumstances. It is valuable to know the pros and cons of what processes are out there, in order to make the best decision for what you are looking for. After evaluating digital printing, we hope that you have a better understanding of the industry and the process that will benefit you in your future endeavors.