A printing device using specialized techniques, a digital printer is often used to reproduce files on special surfaces. Some common kinds of these printers include print on demand, laser and ink jet. With these printers, there is less waste produced and a higher level of quality output. Some common applications for specialized printers include digital textile, digital screen and digital nail printing.
Digital Textile Printing
Similar to printing on a sheet of paper, digital textile printers use textiles as the intended medium to use with blankets and shirts. There are several advantages to using this means of printing rather than the standard methods, one of which is the fact that new designs and colors can be added to the fabric. Some fabrics will absorb ink while others don’t, so it is necessary to add a non-bleeding unit when using a digital textile printer to avoid bleeding colors after printing. In addition, there are a few disadvantages of using this kind of printing, among which include difficulty setting up the printer, a longer time spent printing and some inaccuracies with spot coloring.
Digital textile printing is rather similar to using a standard printer; in fact, most textile printers look like wide poster prints but come with a roll of fabric in the back. The operator puts an image on the computer that will be drawn on the fabric from the roll, using an ink-loaded carrier to print the actual image. Though the two devices are similar, they do differ in terms of the ink that is used.
Most of the graphics printed onto fabric are created on the computer, meaning it is easy for graphic designers to use design programs to utilize this printing technology. Digital programs can also create graphics that a printer can duplicate with absolute precision.
The ink that the printers use are water-based, which is designed to help soak into the fabric with ease. Cotton, wool and other porous fabrics can handle this printing without the risk of bleeding. However, there are problems trying to use this kind of ink with nylon and other non-porous fabrics; with these fabrics, poor absorption and bleeding are problems. Because of this, there is often a non-bleeding mechanism added to preheat the fabric, using a bonding chemical to stop the bleeding.
As previously stated, there are other problems associated with this kind of printing over standard screen printing. For instance, it is difficult to spot color with total accuracy due to the ink itself since many factors can change the color of the ink. In addition, the speed of using a digital textile printer is slower than screen printing, but it’s easy to use wide rolls to print more at a time.
Finally, it is more difficult to set up this digital printer, especially those who are new to the unit. Properly setting up the printing requires saving images in a variety or formats and calibrating the color to the correct setting. Otherwise, the color will print out differently than it appears on the screen.
Digital Screen Printing
This is a technique in which the operator imprints a design onto fabric using computer aided design. These substrates can be anything from fabric and vinyl to foam and more. Standard printing is a mechanical technique in which the ink is printed through a mesh screen.
In the digital respect, the process is done through piezo electric print heads, the same kind of technology in desktop inkjet printers. It is possible to use a computer design program to introduce elaborate designs. Since the process uses inkjet inks, the finished product may not be the most durable as it would be with a traditional printing method. However, it still is often used for personalizing items for sports teams and similar associations.
A four ink process is used to create a full color graphic on a substrate. Here, each ink color is cut out of a mesh material. In four color printing, designers need virtually every color on the spectrum and thus use cyan, magenta, yellow and key (black) inks. As the ink goes through the holes, each layer has a particular pattern applied, which is affixed to the fabric using heat. Digital printing automates this tedious process and makes more sense economically for small jobs.
Commercial printers are often several feet wide, accommodating custom jobs for large signs or fashion designers. Hobbyists can get smaller-scale machines for custom clothing, however. Products most often created through these means are signs, which can be done on textiles and clothing.
Digital Nail Printing
This device is responsible for replicating the intricate designs found on nails, and this kind of printer typically uses a special kind of nail paint to print onto false nails. There are several ways that this kind of unit can function, but most require a camera to view the nails under the printer. Using white polish as the base allows the camera to recognize where the boundaries of the nails are and can stop it from printing nails crooked.
Some machines require special devices that need to be put on the fingers so the machine can print correctly. When this occurs, it is absolutely important to remain still during the process.
Though a nail printer designed for a salon can handle over five nails at a time, one purchased for the home can usually just do one at a time. Printers designed for children also work in the same way as advanced machines but with a lower quality and accuracy of printing. However, the draw still remains that users can easily create professional design with little skill, making it an excellent choice for home use.
Those who operate these machines often try to take advantage of its ability to get as much detail as possible since this is often not possible with hand-painting. These can be very small or even photographic images. These can also be printed on toenails or other objects that are slightly curved in nature.