If you have a print project in production, it can be difficult to know which printing technique will deliver the best results for your budget. If you’re not a print professional, the technicalities of different printing methods can be confusing or downright unclear. In this article, we breakdown what digital printing is, what it’s used for and some of the advantages so you have all the facts at your fingertips.

What is digital printing?

It’s the process of reproducing your digital files in a physical format. For instance, digitally printing a PDF to create a poster or flyer. 

Digital printers use a powder toner to apply graphics directly to your chosen material, rather than ink. The powder sits on the surface of the substrate, rather than being absorbed like ink. The pigments are combined with other chemicals to ensure they adhere to the surface. 

Thanks to modern technology, these powders can be combined by the printer to create an almost infinite spectrum of colours, matching those in your digital file. 

Did you know that digital printing can also apply UV inks, which are durable and long-lasting? These are cured under a UV light, so they form a close bond with your chosen media. UV curing is typically faster than heat drying and results in a higher-definition finish. It’s also suitable for printing onto plastics and items designed for outdoor use, where fading might be an issue.

What is digital printing used for?

It has a wide range of uses. It’s commonly used by businesses to produce posters, direct mail materials, leaflets, flyers and stationery. 

Thanks to advances in technology, you can also print onto plastics, metals and other media. 

What’s the difference between digital printing and offset printing?

The biggest difference between the two techniques is the way that inks or toners are applied. 

Digital methods see toner applied directly onto your chosen material (typically paper). Offset printing, on the other hand, sees ink applied to metal plates, which are then pressed onto the material. Different plates apply different coloured inks in turn, building up the image with each plate. 

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The need for plates tends to make offset printing more expensive than digital printing. However, it becomes better value for money as volumes increase, because the cost per print declines. Also, because the process uses liquid ink, you often have greater choice in the colours and finishes available. For instance, metallic and glow-in-the dark inks. 

What are the benefits of digital printing?

The benefits of are many and varied. The main advantage for businesses is that short runs (up to 1,500) are cost effective. 

The turnaround times on digital print projects are also fast because digital files can be transferred directly to the printer and the output is almost instant, unlike offset printing methods, which require the production of plates. As such, digital techniques are ideal for print-on-demand services.

Digital printing also allows for personalisation via Variable Data Printing (VDP). That means you can include personal greetings, unique voucher codes and more to your print collateral. This makes your marketing more engaging and personal – and often trackable. 

Is digital printing expensive?

No. In fact, it’s especially good value for short runs.

Want to know more about digital printing?

Get in touch. We can discuss your project and advise on the best option for your business.