How Digital Printing Works and Why You Should Care

Custom vinyl labels

If you’re a small business looking at commercial printing services, there’s a high likelihood you’ll find digital printing to be the best fit for your needs. It’s accurate, fast and — perhaps most importantly for businesses on a budget — affordable even at small print quantities. You may not know it, but digital printing has actually been around in one form or another for about a quarter of a century. The term refers to any printing process that prints from a digital file, rather than requiring the constant creation of custom printing plates used as an analog medium for transferring ink and chemicals to a printing surface (as traditional offset printing does).

How Digital Printing Works

You may already know a little about the two most popular kinds of digital printing, inkjet and laser. The former works by shooting tiny dots of color onto the printing surface so that they combine to form words and images. The latter works by building up static electricity using a laser beam. That static electricity then attracts powdered ink — toner — and a special fuser unit bonds the ink to the printing surface. Commercial digital printing, however, is far more advanced than the digital printing you can get from a normal office inkjet or even laser printer. Some large digital printing presses even use an advanced technique called “ablation technology” that allows for a laser to remove certain layers from a polyester plate so that it can accept ink instantaneously and without all the chemicals that are needed to facilitate offset printing.

Choosing a Printing Company

In learning more about digital printing methods, there’s sometimes a danger of reducing printing companies to the machines they use. Yes, of course a modern digital printer of any kind will be far superior to any digital press from the 1990s. But the skill of the workers at a printing company are also paramount to your getting a good result. So if you’re trying to choose a company to handle your business’ projects, you’re better off asking for samples and references than you are asking specific questions about technology.

Do you have any questions or comments regarding digital printing? Join the discussion below.

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