What is Digital Printing?
Other Lessons in This Course
- Digital Printing
- Pad Printing
- Digital Printing
- Heat Press/Heat Transfer
- Laser Engraving
- Next Level Imprints with Mixed Media Printing
- When to Go Embroidery Instead of Silkscreening
Digital printing is one of several printing techniques available for decorating your promotional items. It goes by many other names including four color process, full color process, and CMYK printing. No matter what you call it, digital printing will have your promo products looking ready for distribution. Discover exactly how it works in this exhilarating lesson!
As you might guess, digital printing involves the use of a digital image. Have you ever printed out a color photograph or document on an inkjet printer at home or in the office? We're assuming since it's many years beyond 1995, you have. Digital printing for promotional products is very similar, with only a few important changes.
Yes, Size Matters.
First, because most products can't be stacked in a tray the way an enormous ream of office paper can, custom frames have to be built to hold the products while they run through the printer. When they pass through, these products resemble cars passing through an automated car wash...except only inkjets come anywhere near the products, and there are no spinny-brushes anywhere in sight.
Another big difference? The size of the operation. Your home inkjet printer is probably just the right size to sit on top of a desk or a shelf; the printer at work might be a little bit bigger. That's great for printing off all of those tax forms or recipes you found on Pinterest, but customizing promotional products takes some more technological muscle. This is not only because of the size of the products, but because of most order sizes—hundreds of products at a time! A digital product printer is fairly big, and has the capacity to dry the ink on the items right after it's applied, too, so the process is quick and smooth.
How Many Colors?
You might wonder how a process like this can be called "full color printing" and "four color printing" at the same time. After all, with digital printing, any color you can incorporate into your design on a computer can be printed on your product. So where does this "four color" business come from? Well, it's pretty simple. A while ago, printers discovered that they can replicate almost any color using four colors of ink: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (which is the "k" in CMYK, because we like to make things mysterious). Hence, four color printing!
But being able to make any color from four basic building blocks isn't the only advantage of digital printing. It's also faster. Unlike with a process like screen printing, where each color is added to the product as a separate layer, all of the colors in digital printing are printed at the same time. This saves time, and in a lot of cases, save the customer money, too. And we all like that, right?
Another form of digital printing is called "digital sublimation printing." This method allows full color images to be printed on all kinds of surfaces, even those that might not work well with an inkjet-style printer. Unlike the traditional four color process, digital sublimation involves printing a design onto transfer paper. Special machines use a combination of heat and pressure to press the paper onto an item's specially treated surface and transfer the design. Voilà! That digital photo of your family now can grace coffee mugs for years to come.
Digital printing takes amazing developments in computer technology and uses them to paint your brand in the best light...or print it in the best light, as the case may be. Thanks to the use of large-scale printers, virtually any image created with computer software can be transferred onto the surface of a promotional product. Digital printing is an excellent way to color your advertising efforts!