Digital Printing

Digital printing questions and answers, from whether to use digital printing versus offset printing to what is a bleed.

Digital Printing Questions and Answers

Digital printing is a process whereby a digital image is transmitted from an electronic file to paper on a digital press, either in black and white or full color.

Digital presses work by applying an electrostatic charge to a piece of paper. Dry toner, either black and white or color, adheres to the charge. Typically, fuser oil is applied to the toner to fuse it to the paper. This technology has advanced greatly over the years to be faster, easier to use and more accurate.
Digital printing is best for documents with many originals and few prints of each original, while offset printing is the best choice for documents with only a few originals and many prints of each original. Digital printing is also an excellent choice for quick turnaround documents since copying is a dry process and has very little setup. The quality of digital printing has improved vastly over the last several years; offset printing still offers the highest quality available but nowadays, the difference between the two processes from a quality standpoing is usually negliglible. Both digital printing and offset printing are employed at The Print Authority.

For more details on how to decide which process to use, call The Print Authority, at (615) 468-2679!
Like full color offset printed materials, full color digital prints are typically produced using four colors of toner: cyan, magenta, yellow and black. These four colors are combined in patterns to simulate all of the colors of the rainbow. For more detail on how the image is transferred to paper, see above answer to "What Is Digital Printing?"
In general, we prefer hard copy proofs for accuracy on color critical jobs, but in most I cases, we may provide a PDF of the proof prior to running the job to facilitate fast turnaround. It is critical for customers to review all proofs for content, accuracy and color.
The most important factor in the quality of a digitally printed piece is the quality of the original file and the resolution of the images which it contains. In addition to the quality of the original, the quality of the digital press and how it is maintained will also have a significant impact. Digital presses vary a great deal in terms of the consistency and accuracy of reproducing images. Some higher quality digital presses incorporate advance spectrophotometers and other advanced color matching technology to ensure accurate color reproduction.
The term bleed refers to an image running off the edge of a page. The proper way to bleed an image is to run the image on a larger sheet of paper and then cut the paper after printing so the image runs off the edge of the sheet. The image on the electronic file must also run over the edge of the page to create a bleed.
Generally speaking, no.

Full-color digital presses can produce a wide range of colors by applying combinations of cyan, magenta, yellow and black. However, like four color process printing, digital presses cannot typically “match” an exact ink color. Spot color offset printing is the most exact in terms of matching a specific ink color.
Here is a brief list of potential problems which can occur in digitally printed pieces. Some of these issues can be avoided with conscientious machine operators, well maintained equipment and proper job scheduling.

Improper Registration of colors. Sometimes, you can see a color “hanging” out of register with the other colors. This might occur if you see red at the edge of images. This is usually a digital press maintenance problem.

Banding in large solid areas. Digital presses, like printing presses, have a technical limit of how large of a solid area that they can print consistently. This will vary by equipment brand.

Inconsistent color. Color consistency varies greatly by digital press brand. Regular calibration can reduce inconsistency.

Cracks on folds of digitally produced pieces. Unlike offset printing where ink absorbs into paper, digital printing involves the application of toner which sits on top of the paper. If a digitally printed image runs over a fold (particularly on cover stock), it may crack when the piece is folded. More modern digital presses apply less toner to the paper and, therefore, have less toner to crack. Another way to reduce cracking is to score sheets prior to folding.

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