What is Digital Printing?
Digital printing is a modern printing technique that produces prints directly from a computer file rather than a slide or a photograph, without going through some intermediate medium such as a film negative, a colour proof or a plate. Digital printing is used for many commercial printing needs in both black and white and full colour. Some specialist commercial digital printing companies can also offer:
• large format printing such as posters, signage, canvas and acrylic prints
• extra wide printing for large scale external applications such as banners, advertising billboards, hoardings and building wraps.
Today digital printing is being increasingly used in place of older forms of printing such as litho. It is easy to understand why when you look at the many advantages digital printing offers:
Advantages of digital printing
Digital printing has many advantages, the main ones being faster turnaround and lower production cost. It is often used for on-demand or short-run colour printing. It is very cost-effective on short print runs owing to the low set up costs and the fact that there are no minimum volume restrictions. Other advantages include:
• Choice of processes some of which can be used for high definition printing applications
• Printing can be done on many different substrates
• Waterproof and fade resistant inks can be used
• Suitable for printing materials for interior or outdoor use
• Any size can be printed including large format and extra wide format
Digital printing processes
There are various processes which can be used for digital printing, the choice of which is determined by the application and intended use. Among them are:
INKJET PRINTING produces photo-realistic graphics with brilliant colour intensity. Its versatility makes it a good choice for large format display graphics. Inkjet printers use CMYK inks to produce full colour and can print onto a wide range of media so this process is suitable for both indoor use and outdoor use.
UV PRINTING is a high quality and cost effective large format full colour printing process. The process uses environmentally friendly UV inks which are cured with UV light, making it very resistant to fading, water resistant and abrasion. It is ideally suited for outdoor graphics as it can cope with all weather conditions. There are two types of UV full colour printing:• roll fed – where graphics are printed onto a roll of media such as PVC or fabric
• Flatbed – printed directly to rigid or flexible, flat surfaced substrates, often PVC Foamex boards or ACM (aluminium composite material).
Wide range of substrates
Digital printing produces very high definition images on a wide range of materials of different thicknesses, weights and finishes including photo paper, vinyl, film, mesh, canvas, and various textiles. Digital flatbed printers can also print directly onto most flat surfaced rigid or flexible substrates including: PVC Foamex, ACM (aluminium composite material), acrylic, corrugated board, polycarbonate, polyboard and card.
Digital printing applications
• Banners – often used for outdoor advertising and event signage. Usually printed on vinyl which is the least expensive using for weather resistant inks.
• Posters – widely used in trade shows and the retail sector as very cost effective way to promote a company, product or service. Can be printed on matte, satin or gloss paper in various sizes.
• Photos -can be printed on paper, fabrics and rigid materials such as poster board or foam core.
• Canvas Print -look almost as good as an original and can be used to reproduce top quality fine art or photographs. Available on standard canvas or artist canvas material and can be mounted on wood frames.
• Signage – depending on whether it’s meant for interior or outdoor use, it’s printed on vinyl papers, translucent materials, fabrics as well as rigid materials such as poster board or foam core.
• Mesh Printing – Used mainly for stage backdrops and on buildings, mesh is a lightweight perforated fabric that is resistant to tearing and very strong, ideal for large exterior banners. Mesh material is flame retardant and directly printable using UV and solvent inks.