Over the past hundred years, printing has come an incredibly long way. Relatively recent developments in digital technologies have brought printing into a new world, increasing access to high-quality prints while making the process much more affordable.
What exactly are the benefits of digital printing though, and what makes it so different from traditional methods? In our latest article, we speak to the PlanPrinting24 team and explore the main, core benefits of digital printing.
Digital printing vs traditional, offset printing
Before digital printing, the dominant method was called lithographic printing. It’s still a popular method but is quickly being superseded by more modern technologies.
Essentially, lithographic printing involves engraving a plate of metal with the material that needs to be printed. That image is then transferred to a set of rollers, which in turn transfer the image or text onto the final media, often paper. Digital printing skips those middle stages, generally printing straight onto paper.
One of the limiting factors with digital printing can be the quality of the digital file itself. This isn’t a fault of digital printers, it’s just that the printer can only work with what it’s given. If you provide the printer with an average quality file and then change the size, printing a small file as a large print, for example, the print may be pixelated and bleed color.
For optimal results with high-quality digital printers, make sure that you use a large digital file so that it can be scaled to whatever size you like while retaining a high resolution.
What are the benefits?
There are multiple benefits to digital printing, which are listed below:
1. Highly cost-effective
While at the time they were introduced, digital printers were expensive, as the technology involved has become more common, high-quality printing has dramatically dropped in price. As digital printing is an efficient process, it’s now far more cost-effective than offset printing. This is especially the case for shorter-run prints, where the set-up costs of engraving a metal plate would be massive compared to the relatively few prints to be produced.
There are different qualities of digital prints available, with one suitable for whichever budget you’re operating within.
While early digital printers weren’t exactly known for their quality, digital printing now offers some of the most impressive high-quality printing on the market.
Digital printing allows for color sampling without making whole prints, allowing you to adjust the palette until you’ve got it just right. Changing ratios and colors are as rapid as changing the unit in a box, and can be done from your phone or a computer.
3. It’s repeatable
With traditional printing methods, it was often the case that exact reproduction on a large scale was tricky. Plates would wear out, colors would change, and a whole range of variables could become mixed up resulting in variation between prints.
With digital printing, this isn’t an issue. As long as the printer has ink and receives the same input, every single print should be identical. If consistency is important for your project, this represents a massive benefit for digital printing over traditional lithographic methods.
4. It’s more eco-friendly
Digital printing is a less nuanced process. You don’t need rollers, which often have to be replaced, and you don’t need to use plates that also have a limited lifetime.
Digital printing can have a far lower carbon footprint, making it a more environmentally friendly solution to your printing needs. In an age where focuses are increasingly being placed on sustainability, it can be a great way of helping your company meet its targets.
5. It’s quick
Digital printing is the quickest method of printing, especially for shorter-run printing projects. As soon as the printer has the digital file that needs printing, it’s ready to go. No plates need engraving, and no rollers are required, all you need is a digital file containing the content to be printed, a printer, ink, and paper. As mentioned above, it’s important that the file that’s used is suitable for high-resolution printing, or the quality of the print will suffer.
High-quality professional printers aren’t limited to ‘normal’ printing finishes. As well as standard prints, digital printers can provide printing options across a variety of substrates with an incredible level of sophistication in regard to the range of printing options available.
Whilst this article lists 6 of the main benefits of digital printing, we’re only really touching the surface in regards to the capabilities of modern digital printers.
Whether it’s a high degree of accuracy, speed, repeatable quality, or a cost-effective printing solution, you’ll get all of the above with digital printing!