July 31, 2007

Digital Printing–The New Technological Face of the Commercial Printing Industry

Since the days of Gutenberg, commercial printing has required the creation and placing of printing plates that are physical representations of the information being printed. Each new document or page required a new plate, which involved manual labor to create and place the plate which meant that each new commercial printing run required a great deal of intervention and, by extension, cost. Digital printing is a new innovation that allows the real time computer control of the printing plate and eliminates the need for human intervention when the document changes. Additionally, digital printing allows for logic to be applied during the printing process which gives the printer unheard of flexibility and document control.

Digital printing presses use electronic means to create and update the plate drum. Most digital printing presses use an electrostatic method to adhere ink particles to the printing plate roller. No longer is the printing plate a static object that must be created and manually changed between printing runs. In digital printing, the plate can be changed dynamically without manual intervention of any kind. This means that digital printing presses can print small runs without incurring the enormous set up expenditures that are common with older printing technologies. Also, digital printing allows real time updating of the plate, so it is possible to print custom documents that vary even within one digital printing run. For example, if numerous copies of a document are being printed for a conference using digital printing, it is possible to add the recipients name to each document. Digital printing allows flexibility unheard of in other printing processes.

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