May 21, 2024
Digital Printing

The Advancement Of Digital Printing Over Traditional Printing Methods

Introduction to Digital Printing

Digital printing, also known as desktop publishing, is a printing technology where a digital-based image is transmitted to a printing device, which transfers the image to paper. It differs from traditional printing methods like offset printing, where the image is first transferred to a plate before printing. Digital printing technologies provide print service providers with economical, versatile and environmentally sustainable options for producing both short-run print jobs as well as longer print runs.

History and Evolution of Digital Printing
The roots of Digital Printing can be traced back to the 1980s, when non-impact dot matrix and inkjet printers first emerged for office and home use. These early digital printers supported computer document output at low resolution. In the 1990s, continuous inkjet and laser printing was developed for variable data printing. Around this time, the first digital presses suitable for commercial printing applications were introduced as well. Since then, digital printing capabilities have grown rapidly with advances in print engine technologies, ink and toner formulations, multi-color printheads, workflow software and computer processing power. Today, digital printing offers quality comparable to traditional offset with faster turnaround times from file to print.

Benefits of On-Demand and Short Run Printing
Digital printing enables on-demand or just-in-time printing where printing is done only when needed instead of ordering excess inventory upfront. This reduces stockholding, storage and distribution costs. It also allows for short run printing down to a single copy. Short runs that were previously not financially viable on traditional presses can now be profitably printed digitally. As a result, customization, personalization and versioning are much more feasible with digital printing compared to traditional methods.

Variable Data and Digital Asset Management
Digital presses support variable data and image printing which means unique information or graphics can be merged with standard templates and printed. This enables one-to-one ing, personalized campaigns, transactional and direct mail pieces. It also facilitates dynamic digital asset management where centrally stored digital files can be remotely accessed, edited, reprinted or shared as needed. Workflows have become more streamlined and collaborative with centralized databases, cloud solutions and web-to-print portals.

Wide Range of Applications
Some common applications of Digital Printing include collateral, packaging prototypes, books, photo imaging, labels, calendars, clothing, posters, signs and banners. Emerging areas include functional printed electronics, 3D printed products as well as industrial applications like printing circuit boards or aircraft components. Digital technologies continue expanding into technical, textile and commercial printing domains that were previously the realm of traditional presses.

Environmental and Cost Benefits
Digital printing reduces paper, ink and overall materials wastage compared to conventional lithographic printing where unused plates, chemical development solutions and by-products are disposed as waste. With digital, unused or expired inventory like papers and inks rarely go to waste since quantities are made on demand. There are also less transport-related carbon emissions since digital printers can be decentralized and located near the point of need or sale. Overall, digital technologies enable greener and more sustainable printing processes. At the same time, digital presses have lower capital investment than comparable offset presses with lower operating costs for short to mid volume print jobs.

Rise of Multifunction Devices and Desktop Finishing
The convergence of print, copy, scan and fax functions into compact multifunction devices expanded digital printing adoption beyond dedicated presses. Simple features like automatic duplexing further improved paper handling. In parallel, emergence of desktop cutters, folders, booklet makers and binding machines allow prints from typical MFPs or desktop inkjets to be finished professionally. Together, these technologies have brought commercial quality digital printing to even SOHO users and small offices.

The Future of Digital Printing
Digital print technologies will continue to evolve, integrating new capabilities like augmented reality, sensors, internet of things and advanced automation. Newer technologies on the horizon include desktop metal 3D printing, bendable electronic paper displays, molecular printing as well as bioprinting of tissues and organs. These expanding applications point to an increasingly pervasive role for digital printing across industries in the coming years. Overall, digital printing promises to revolutionize how information and products are distributed anytime, anywhere through on-demand, customized and sustainable solutions.

*Note:
1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it.