Digital Printing – The History
The most important development in printing technology in recent times has been digital printing, which allows for fast, efficient and cost effective printing without compromising the highest standards of quality.
The history of digital printing is very short compared with that of the printing industry as a whole because digital printing only emerged in the late 1900s – with the first digital presses introduced in 1993. Digital presses triggered an overnight transformation of the world of print, it meant that customers were able to choose short-run, personalised, high quality print straight from a computer.
Digital printing has evolved rapidly and become one of the most common methods of printing for both businesses and individuals alike and it is forecasted that the growth will continue in the future.
In digital printing, an image is sent directly from a computer to the printer using a digital file, which is made up of a matrix of dots called pixels.
The digitised picture is then used to control the layering of ink and toner to produce the image.
The easy creation of an image onto a print material without the need for a printing plate, which is used in offset printing, can save money and time. Instead of having to print large runs, requests can be made for as little as one print.
When & Where?
Short run digital printing has a higher cost per page than more traditional methods, such as lithographic print, but this is usually offset by the reduction of cost due to not having to create a printing plate.
Examples of when short run digital printing would be used include:
- Variable Data Printing – using database-driven print files to achieve mass personalisation of printed materials, e.g. individually personalised direct mail letters.
- Printing on Demand – for personalised prints, e.g. children’s books customised with a child’s name, photo books or any other short run books of varying page quantities and binding techniques.
- Small Quantities of Marketing Literature – e.g. flyers and leaflets where digital print is generally more cost effective on smaller runs of print.
Author: Gavin Ellis, Print & Studio Manager far’n’beyond