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How does digital printing work?

Digital printing is, by all means, the future of brand communications. The quality of print is unmatched, while print jobs can be turned around in a matter of hours. In this blog, we’ll explain the ins and outs of printing a great quality digital image.

Format

Digital printing starts with the format. Files which need to be digitally printed are saved in an extremely high resolution known as 300dpi. Short for ‘dots per inch’, a higher value dpi results in a brighter, sharper image.

Most computer screens operate at a much lower dpi, which means users will see little difference on screen, but a huge difference when printed. The dpi settings can be adjusted while designing the image, or by selecting the highest settings available on modern cameras.

Also note that digital printing is restricted to CMYK output, so Pantone colours would need to be converted before starting a job.

Ink and delivery

Most printers are identified by how they deliver ink to the printing material. In digital printing, the process is best described as drawing an image onto a piece of paper, rather than stamping it on (known as offset printing). The image is drawn out using tiny dots (between 10 and 60 microns wide), which is why a higher dpi image will look sharper and more pronounced.

Digital printers use two kinds of ink, inkjet and dry toner. These terms may sound familiar, as they are in fact very similar to the ink delivery methods used in conventional office printers.

You may have also experienced the differences between the two. Inkjet has the tendency to smudge if not left to dry, while dry toner, well, is dry. This is why dry toner is often the more popular option in homes and offices. Inkjet still has its uses though, particularly in publishing. This is because the wet ink is absorbed by the paper, rather than sitting on top of it, and creates a smoother, more streamlined book.

Variability

Just as you would at home, a digital printer allows you to print multiple files at once, and each run can be unique from the next. This is ideal for commercial purposes, for example, printing letters with different recipients. Our corporate printers go one step further, however. We can change files in real time by selecting the piece of information we would like to change (let’s say the address) and run the print job against a database of 1,000 addresses. This way, you only need one document and one list of names, rather than 1,000 individual files. Life saver, right?

Price

As opposed to offset printing (the process of creating a template and stamping an image), the costs of digital printing do not vary. That’s to say, it will cost the same per sheet whether you want just one or 1,000 sheets printed.

Offset printing, on the other hand, is more expensive for short runs (a large bulk of your cost will be creating the stamp template) but will be cheaper for long runs.

Cost efficiency is something we regularly advise our clients on, but it is not always necessarily the deciding factor. A digital print job can be turned around in 24 hours if needed, which is simply not possible when offset printing.

Find out more about our UK digital printing services

Callprint has earned an enviable reputation as a master in UK digital printing services. To discuss your next printing project, please get in touch.