Digital Printing is a much quicker procedure than offset printing. Proofs can be produced on the stock and the machine that is required for the job rather than on a separate machine as is the case with offset printing. There are no plates needed and machine set up is minimal. Digital print speeds are slower than offset so it is best for smaller quantities. Below are a few factors that can help you to decide what option is best for you.
Digital printing is the process of a technology that allows for computers to directly link to the printing press. There are two main machines with this technology – Dry Toners and Electrostatic Liquid Ink. The Dry toner or powder toners are printers produced by Fuji Xerox, Kodak Nexpress, Canon, Lanier, Konica Minolta and has many models within this range. Electrostatic Liquid Ink machines are produced by HP and include the Indigo range. For this exercise we will concentrate on Dry Toner.
Paper to be used
Dry Toner machines are able to run quite a varied range of stocks. These can be coated, which include gloss and silk stocks and uncoated which include laser compatible stocks. Most paper from 80gsm uncoated through to 350gsm gloss can be used however; ums are a deciding factor as well. This is because ums are a more accurate representation of the thickness of a stock.
Quality of print
When it comes to print quality Dry Toner machines produce good print results. Most people would not pick the difference between offset and digital printing.
Variable data is one of the big differences between digital and offset printing. Due to offset printing using plates, the image can’t be changed without adding a considerable cost to the print job. Options such as numbering, names and personal details can all be printed in the one process on a digital press. This means that digital printing is great for invitations, letters, mail outs, raffle tickets and any other personalised print.
The digital print process is great for small and medium print runs, whether it be 500 business cards or 1,000 A4 flyers.
Speed of printing
As digital printing does not require mixing inks, producing plates and individual positioning of each colour, the set up time is much quicker. The speed of the actual print run is slower, which makes digital printing a better option for smaller quantities.
Digital printing is also favourable to the environment. Since there is no need for pre-press stages, photo chemicals and plates, there is less wastage. It is also a waterless procedure thus saving on heavy water usage. All toner cartridges and drums are recycled for re-use instead of going to landfill.
If you receive any last minute assignments using this mode of printing is extremely useful. Such late orders can be accepted and printing completed on demand. You will also be able to make any last minute alterations when printing reaches the computer stage.
The digital process does not require any special costs to set up. The other advantages of not having a minimum print quantity and no plate requirement also make it cost effective. There are some digital units which can perform binding and inline finishing. These binding facilities can include saddle stitching, folding and corner stapling.
If you need a small run, have a print run that needs variable data or just need the print job in a hurry – digital printing could be the right option for you.