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Digital Printing: Financial and Environmental Efficiencies

April 11, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 152

The main differences between digital printing and traditional methods such as lithography, flexography, gravure, or letterpress are that no printing plates are used, resulting in a quicker and less expensive turnaround time.

The most popular methods include inkjet or laser printers that deposit pigment or toner onto a wide variety of substrates including paper, photo paper, canvas, glass, metal, marble and other substances. Digital printing is also faster, with none of the intermediate stages required when traditional printing presses are involved. If you need something produced by next week, or even tomorrow, this is the only way to go.

Digital printing has a higher cost per page than more traditional offset printing methods but this price is usually offset by the cost saving in avoiding all the technical steps in between needed to make printing plates. Using conventional presses, it is not economically viable to produce a small number of leaflets or other printed materials. With digital printing, each copy might be a little more expensive, but you only pay for what you want. This means that digital printing is ideal for small print runs: either where only a few copies are needed, or perhaps where a few prototypes or proofs are required before a larger print run.

Reasons for choosing digital printing

1. Digital presses do not use offset plates or chemicals the way offset presses do.

This means they don't require film, spray powders, cleaning solvents, or have the same solid waste disposal requirements as their offset counterparts.

2. Because digital presses don't emit harmful emissions, they don't require the ventilation or emissions capture required of offset presses. This reduces their overall energy consumption.

3. Digital presses can print a wide range of recycled substrates. While these presses once had the drawback of being restricted to a very limited number of substrates, this is no longer the case. The range of stocks for digital presses, including recycled and SFI-/FSC-certified papers, has exploded.

Less waste, fewer chemicals, better communication

All of this means that digital printing is easier on the environment. Placing an order for printed matter used to mean deciding how many thousand copies to buy - and usually overestimating. Price breaks meant that companies were encouraged to buy far more than was strictly necessary. Many of these would ultimately be recycled or dumped.

Digital printing makes this kind of moral hazard less of an issue. It's also a cleaner printing process in the first place, doing away with many of the harmful chemicals associated with older print methods.

Lastly, digital printing allows for more effective communication. Smaller print runs mean that money can be better targeted in tailoring the message to individuals and groups of people, rather than creating a one-size-fits-all product - much of which would go wide of the mark as a result and simply be dumped in the bin by the customer.

Sandra Melo Guest writer for

Source: EzineArticles
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