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How does digital printing work?

Printing technologies have come an incredibly long way since the early days, back when analogue printing presses were first introduced. Now, in addition to older methods such as lithographic printing, there are an increasing number of digital options.

The key difference between the two is that digital printers don’t require a printing plate – they print straight onto the media, often using jets. 

Digital printing is becoming increasingly advanced, facilitating high-quality printing at often impressively low costs. Below, we speak to the PlanPrinting24 team and take a look at how it works to help provide a deeper understanding of the printing process.

Digital printing vs. analogue printing

Digital printing is a printing process which takes digital files of images and prints them straight onto the desired media. The file could be a PDF, JPEG, or any number of alternatives, as long as it’s compatible with the specific printer. 

This is the key difference between digital and analogue printing. With analogue printing, the image is first transferred to a plate, then onto rollers. Digital printers skip that step, resulting in numerous benefits.

UV in digital printing

While digital printing is already incredibly quick compared to other methods, recent advances have further sped up the printing process. Some printing methods now use ultraviolet (UV) light to set the ink on prints instantly. 

This not only means that the image is ready almost instantly, but it also leads to sharper colours, and less chance that the colours will fade significantly over time.

Print onto different media

While people often think primarily of paper when they think of printing, digital printing can be applied to a wide variety of different media. With the appropriate printer, you can print digital files onto canvas, synthetic materials, fabric, and a wide variety of other materials. 

The kinds of printers that can facilitate this kind of printing are normally not the ones you’ll find in someone’s house though – they require more advanced technology, and are typically only found in commercial printing businesses.

In Conclusion – What are the main benefits of digital printing? 

Digital printing is able to provide an increasing number of benefits over traditional printing as the technologies involved continue to advance. 

One of the main benefits is perhaps speed. As you no longer need to transfer the image onto a plate and then onto rollers, the printing process is dramatically simplified. You simply send the file to the printer and it prints it for you. 

This increase in speed makes digital printing an attractive option for those who want to do shorter print runs, or are operating on a tight time scale. The minimisation of those resource and labour-intensive middle steps also means that digital printing is generally a lot more cost-effective than lithographic printing, especially for those shorter runs. 

While the toner-based technologies used in digital printing used to be highly expensive, the price has continued to drop as the technologies have been more widely adopted by consumers.