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The Digital Press Advantage

For hundreds of years, printing presses were designed with mass-production in mind. Their system of manufacturing plates in order to produce hundreds, thousands or even millions of identical prints enables manufacturers to churn out impressive volumes of work in a relatively short period. However, that isn't always prudent for the task at hand, which is why the digital press is such a popular alternative. The digital press is ideal for smaller volumes of work.

How Offset Printing Works

To understand what makes digital presses special, you must first understand the alternative: In most cases, the offset press. These types of machines, like sheet-fed printing presses, are loaded with plates that have the design to be printed on them. The machine undergoes a process that involves coating the plate with ink, transferring it across rotating cylinders and eventually printing it on a blank sheet of paper. This all happens at extraordinary speed, so while the initial work of creating the plate and loading the machine requires some time, it pays off in the long run.

How a Digital Press Differs

Unlike web-fed and sheet-fed printing presses, a digital press doesn't require plates, rollers or much setup time. It essentially works like a large inkjet or laser printer—you send it a digital file with your image encoded, the printer interprets it and it spits ink onto the page. The actual printing may take longer than it would in an offset machine, so it isn't as efficient for processing large jobs, but it's ideal for small ones.

For example, if you want to create a series of color prints—like wedding invitations or photo holiday postcards—you're able to simply create the file and send it to the printing press. This is why digital printing is also referred to as "on demand" printing—you can do it whenever you want. It also gives you the freedom to customize your prints as you go. For example, if you want to print a series of advertorial postcards, you can make them all identical except for the name of the addressee—since the design is digital and there is no plate involved, you don't lose out on any materials by doing so. To learn more about digital presses and other types of printing machines, contact Graphic Innovators.