Term

Digital Printing

noun

Digital printing is a process of mapping out an image onto a chosen surface – a shirt, a mug, a hat, a bag, etc. – and using minute droplets of ink transfers that image onto it.

What Is Digital Printing?

With the advent of the computer age, printing options have become nearly unlimited. While options such as embroidery, patches, and transfers are still widely used, computers have provided a new form of printing: digital.

Digital printing maps out an image onto a chosen surface – a shirt, a mug, a hat, a bag, etc. – and using minute droplets of ink transfers that image onto it. Its simplicity and minimal use of equipment make digital printing one of the most cost-effective printing forms out there. It is also ideal for small batches of products, making it one of the best Print on Demand services options.

Types of Digital Printing

Digital printing can be used in several different ways. Not simply limited to a single, compatible form of transfer, it can be used in:

The Printing Process

Digital printing no longer requires the use of printing plates or transfer stickers. By connecting specially designed printing machines, computers can print images directly onto the chosen media material. There are no stages between the finished digital image and the printing process, making it much quicker and easier than traditional printing methods. 

The three steps for preparing an image for digital printing are:

  1. The image is created. Any digital artifacts are removed, and the image itself is cropped to a bare minimum size of the subject. This is to ensure it is printed cleanly and without any loss in quality.
  2. The image is sized to fit the highest area possible on the chosen material. This again ensures that no quality is lost during the printing process.
  3. The image files are formatted to the correct file type for the machines used and sent to the printer. High-quality file formats are used to keep the image crisp and clear.

When transferring the image onto the chosen media, the inks form a thin layer on its surface. This further allows adherents to be added via curing or heating techniques to help make the image more permanent. This process also conserves much more energy than standard printing, as it bypasses many of the processes typically used in regular printing. As a result, digital printing is far more eco-friendly than other options.

Direct to Garment Printing

Digital Printing Machines

Unlike traditional printing machines, digital-based machines do not require printing plates. These are the parts of the machine that hold the image printed, and they must be frequently changed and maintained. With a digital printing machine, the image is directly printed onto the chosen product or material. 

Depending on the image being used, digital printing offers a nearly perfect transfer of image quality. Whatever goes in comes back out with very little loss in quality. It is also a quick and effective mode of printing. Digital printers allow for sheet-fed and cut-sheet digital press options, making high-speed and high-volume outputs possible.

Digital Print Media and Products

As digital printing is no longer limited by transfer methods of a traditional printing machine, it can be used for various media and material types. Some of the more common options are:

The versatility of digital printing has made it the go-to source for mass-produced distributable items. Any industry that requires large quantities of print has turned to digital. Business cards, greetings cards, menus, flyers, newsletters, and flyers can all be easily and quickly churned out in their hundreds and thousands for only a fraction of the cost of traditional printing.

Benefits of Digital Printing

Being a more modern form of printing, there are many benefits for choosing digital over traditional printing. These include:

Digital Printing vs. Offset Printing

Digital and Offset are both effective printing techniques. Offset printing works better when you require larger project runs (into the 100s or 1000s) or are using brand-centric Pantone color. Plus, offset lets you utilize a range of custom papers and specialty inks. However, if you only need a small run (let’s say less than 100) or information is required, then digital printing is your best bet. Digital printing can give you the high level of quality that makes your product stand out.

Conclusion

With all this in mind, it’s easy to see how digital is the future of printing. By streamlining every aspect of the printing process and cutting time and cost, it’s no wonder more people are turning to digital printing.