An Expose on the Advances in Digital Printing
There is no getting around it: Digital printing is changing the way printing companies are performing. Today’s technological advances have worldwide implications bringing the printing industry right along with them. As these ultimate high-quality, high-output devices drive competition, marketing strategists are scrambling to come up with an angle. Consumer-driven improvements have taken a backseat to technologically driven advancements. Printing capabilities have gone so hybrid, the consumer has never been in a better negotiating position.
So What Does this Mean for the Customer?
The most significant difference for consumers is in the way a printing company is compelled to produce in order to satisfy the magnificent capabilities of the tools they now have at their disposal. In a departure from offset printing, digital printing is capable of handling small runs at a level of efficiency that can only be passed along to the consumer in the form of price breaks to generate more business. While these machines are efficient, they are extremely voracious and need to be operating at a pace that befits their capable output. Meeting the high-quality standards previous printing methods have established, this is an exciting time to be reaching out to the local print shop for everything from stationary printing to brochure printing. An unrealized product for those self-publishers is the capability of the local printing company to print their latest novel, complete with the perfect bind.
Digital Printing Applications
In recent years, consumers have found that their printing company has been able to handle a variety of applications using digital methods. Some of these are:
Print on Demand – countless personalized products can be digitally produced from files that are simply ready-to-print. The local print shop has gone to considerable effort to place proprietary software at point-of-sale (POS) to readily display the ease of production, including alterations and edits before committing to the run. Product output includes photo books, wedding photo books and customized children’s books complete with a variety of binding options.
Desktop Publishing – recognizing that all offices have computer users, including those at home, charged with the duties of producing files from which to generate all manner of office printing that no longer requires printing plates. The turn around times are no comparison to offset printing processes. Business card printing, booklet printing, flyer printing, menu printing, greeting card printing, stationary printing, envelope printing and letterhead printing are just a few of the digital products that are being requested on a daily basis.
Variable Data Printing – often, customers are using database programs to generate printed materials to display operational metrics, diagrams, plans or other data. The opportunity to use programs with which there is a familiarity and still have them produced easily is a benefit for the worker charged with this technical duty.
Advertising – a wide-ranging area that every business could use to advance their profile. Products include signs and banners, large format printing in the form of posters, wide format printing in the form of materials that can be displayed on the sides of buildings or for a stage presentation, a trade show or exhibition. Retail establishments are always in need of POS materials that can be used to suggest sales or merely direct traffic. The more comprehensive direct-mail campaigns open the door to tremendous benefits with the printing company handling all the heavy lifting from printing the entire run to delivering the job to the mail carriers.
Photography – many a professional photographer has not abandoned their craft simply because film media has given way to digital printing. No worries here with the machines that can deliver the perfection of bleed in the absence of the spherical lens that previously produced a vignette effect or loss of clarification to the four corners. There is an opportunity to retouch and perform color corrections before achieving the proper ink density and registration in the printing. This is an area that is burgeoning as artists are growing more familiar with the tools available.
Fine Art – between the high-tech delivery of inks and dies to a multitude of substrates, such as canvas, watercolor or real photo papers, artists are realizing an entirely new medium opening up to them in the form of Giclée, pronounced zhee-klay. This term, coined in 1991 by Jack Duganne, was intended to distinguish the digital printing process from the more negative connotation of computer generated images or inkjet prints. While not yet a warranty of quality, the name Giclée is still a neologism. Despite this, it has significant relevance in advancing the applications of high-resolution, large format printing. Its derivation serves to describe the method of how ink is applied to the substrate through a “nozzle.”
Departure is Inevitable
The process of printing over the centuries has evolved from the earliest concept of woodblock printing to offset printing, still today’s go-to printing process for producing everything from newspapers and magazines to stationery, brochures and books. Offset printing has been best suited to producing large volumes of the highest quality prints for the lowest expense and least amount of maintenance since 1875. Today’s offset printing has undergone further transition, going from computer-to-film (CTF), to computer-to-plate (CTP), which has resulted in even greater quality. While CTP has revolutionized the printing industry lowering laborious efforts, reducing pre-press times and improving print quality, digital printing is the harbinger of change that just won’t be reversed at this point.
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