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The biggest trend in the print industry has been the growth of digital printing. In fact, this is a long term trend that has really picked up in the last few years. Digital printing has grown to capture more than 50 percent of the printing market share shunting offset printing to the side.
Digital printing is basically the kind of printing that you do i.e. preparing images, templates, and documents digitally before sending them directly to the printer. The future of printing technology lies in digital printing because, according to tentative estimates, it grew by another 30 percent in the last year.
The growth of digital printing is evident also from the fact that colour printing has seen a rise in the last few years with inkjet printing growing leaps and bounds. By 2021, estimates say that the number of colour pages will touch 1.2 trillion pages globally!
Digital printing is the process of printing digital-based images directly onto a variety of media substrates. There is no need for a printing plate, unlike with offset printing. Digital files such as PDFs or desktop publishing files can be sent directly to the digital printing press to print on paper, photo paper, canvas, fabric, synthetics, cardstock and other substrates.
There are many types of digital printing machines, including production printing presses such as
sheet-fed production printers,
cut-sheet digital presses,
production inkjet printers and
continuous feed printers.
Some recognizable brand names of Xerox digital printers include Xerox Color, iGen, Versant, Nuvera and D Series production printers and digital presses, as well as Xerox Brenva, CiPress, Rialto, Trivor and Impika production inkjet and continuous feed printers.
Digital printing machines can print on everything from thick cardstock, heavyweight papers and folding cartons to fabric, plastics and synthetic substrates. T-shirt printing is a very popular digital printing application, and some digital printers can print on other fabrics besides T-shirts, including linen and polyester.
Choosing the correct media profiles is another important factor to maintaining optimal print results. Profiles can include heat settings, ink saturation, linearization, iCC profiles, and ink restrictions. Controlling these profiles can help reduce unnecessary ink usage and improve production time and reduce costs. Print media manufacturers should provide profiles available to download and import into your RIP software. Sometimes it may be necessary to create your own profiles. It this is the case, select the profile of a similar media and test the results.
The list below is an example of the different types of digital print media available:
Digital printing inks include cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK) toner and ink, as well as extended color gamut inks such as orange, blue and green as well as specialty dry inks for metallic, white or clear effects.
The solvent used in solvent ink serves a dual purpose in that it’s both a carrier to deliver the coloured pigment to the media, and it helps to melt the surface of the media. The ink colourants can penetrate beneath the softened surface to bite into the media itself.
UV-curable inks have a number of advantages that account for their widespread popularity. UV curable inks rely on photo initiators, which produce free radicals when exposed to UV light. Unlike the other ink types, there is no carrier liquid as this ink cures rather than dries.The major components of UV-curable inks are monomers and oligomers, which the free radicals force to cross-link together, a chemical reaction known as photopolymerisation.
Several manufacturers are working on hybrid inks, which attempt to combine the best features of different inks. The most obvious example is Solvent UV which combines mild solvent with UV-curable ink. Mimaki introduced Solvent UV to the market when it launched the JV400SUV. Fujifilm has also released a version of this printer, which it calls the Vybrant.
Digital printing advantages and disadvantages
Digital printing technology excels at producing on demand and short print runs quickly and cost-effectively. Digital printing is also an ideal platform for personalization. If you want to easily modify images and messages using variable data printing (VDP), then digital printing is the only way to go. With advancements in print quality and speed, digital printing’s previous disadvantages are quickly disappearing, and digital printing machines are closing the gap on offset output.