When should you use digital printing?

DATE:January 18, 2019

It comes as second nature to incorporate printing industry terms and service types into our blogs and social media posts. However, we realize that people outside the industry may not be as familiar with these terms. In the past we’ve taken time to explain offset printing and how it differs from our other services. Now, we’d like to answer another frequently asked question: When should I use digital printing?

The process behind the digital print job

Digital printing is the most modern method of traditional printing. Second to none in its ability to quick-turn both projects and heads, digital allows you customization, personalization, versioning and short-run efficiency.

When is digital printing is the best choice?

Digital printing might be the right choice for your project if you:

  • Have a small job and/or small budget

Since digital printing doesn’t require the mechanical steps— creating color proofs, stripping pieces together, making and moving plates—costs tend to be more reasonable for a lower quantity of copies.

  • Want customization

Today, it’s common to expect printed materials to be up-to-date and customized to fit their needs. Since all digitally printed designs are created digitally, they are fairly easy to update or change if reprints are needed. Size of the printed material is easy to adjust as well, meaning anything from billboards to product labels, postcards to retail signage and every size in between can be printed digitally. Plus, nearly the entire rainbow is at your disposal in the design process as exact color matches are no problem with this method of printing, thanks to improved technologies.

  • Are in a time crunch

As mentioned above, digital printing takes less time that other methods since no plates need to be switched out throughout the process.

When you may need to consider a different printing method

Though there isn’t much difference in the print quality, thanks to technological improvements, you’ll want to save digital for a different job if you:

  • Need more than 100 copies

Offset printing offers a lower price if you print more pieces, while digital is often a flat rate per piece. If you need 100, 1,000 or 10,000 copies of a design, digital won’t be

  • Have your eye on fancier paper

Digital printing can sometimes limit the type of paper used for a print job. A different method, such as offset printing, might be the best choice if you need something printed on paper with a custom finish.

  • Need an exact match of Pantones

When you print in digital, colors are printed in one single pass through the printer, unlike analogue printing in which the plates are repeatedly replaced for each color and each file. This eliminates many manual steps in other types of printing processes, making digital printing the fastest (and typically, most economical) method of printing. When using CMYK, offset and digital printing produce very similar results, however, if you need an exact Pantone or spot color match, offset presses can be more accurate because of the ink that is used). However, there are some digital presses that will match many Pantones through CMYK mixing—it depends on how strict your visual brand guidelines are.

Since the first digital printers only came on the market in the early 1990s, digital printing is still both a growing and evolving method of printing. It is a great way to test the waters if you are new to printing marketing material, too. Put it to the test on your next project by giving us a call!

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