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The Superiorities of Digital Printing

kyle-jackDigital printing means printing directly onto a surface. It skips the tedious and traditional steps of making a plate, printing from the plate onto a rubber blanket, and transferring the image on the rubber blanket to the printing surface. Digital uses no printing plates at all. That is the chief difference.

The past ten years have seen significant advances in digital printing. Smaller printing companies can now compete with larger manufacturing facilities, because digital printing doesn’t require a vast outlay of cash for plates and equipment. It’s the every-man’s printing method, and it’s getting better all the time. Digital printing nearly matches traditional offset printing for quality; it is compatible with a variety of printing surfaces (fabrics, papers, plastics), but its popularity is due to its greater maneuverability.

Photo Credit: Jirka Matousek via Flickr cc

With traditional printing, you have to invest in plates beforehand, plates that cost as much as $5,000 total. And once a plate is created, there is no changing it. Digital printing is tweak conducive. It allows for changes on the fly. Text, images, and colors can all be changed during the printing process without significantly slowing it down. Those kinds of changes would bring the traditional printing process to a screeching halt, and they would also require entirely new plates. Remember the price tag on plates?

Digital printing is ideal for smaller batches of prints. The upfront fees are small, because there are no plates to buy. Say you have 500 stores that want to do NCAA licensed apparel trays. Say those 500 stores are spread out across 10 different college towns. With digital printing, you can print 10 batches of 50, each batch with a different college team’s graphics. This sort of printing done traditionally would have cost $20,000 just in printing plates.

Photo Credit: KKG Marketing via Flickr cc

This example project would also have benefited by digital printing’s accuracy of proofing. Detailed samples could be made of each tray quickly and cost effectively. With digital printing, you can hold in your hands a sample that will be exactly recreated in the final print run.

If you need prints in your hands fast, digital is the way to go. Traditional printing can’t compete with digital’s turnaround time, (the time between submission of a project and completion of that project) which is sometimes only a few days, depending on the size and type of the job.

If you’re environmentally conscious and trying to appeal to an environmentally conscious crowd, digital printing can be done with water based inks. If you’re hip and trendy and trying to appeal to a hip and trendy crowd, digital printing can be done in white and metallic inks.

For small batches on a budget and on a schedule, there’s nothing better. Digital printing may be the answer to your marketing woes.

Kyle Jack is the owner of Rapid Prototypes in Bentonville, Arkansas and a mentor at Selling to the Masses.

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