Digital printing has taken the world by storm. Every office and household today, uses an inkjet or a laser printer. According to Smithers Pira, digital printing accounted for of the global print market value in 2017, which is set to increase to in 2018. This was a measly 9.8 percent in 2008.
Difference between digital and analog printing
Analog printing involves creating files for each color required in printing and then separating those files with respect to their colors. In the next step, a screen for each color is created by a heating process, followed by dryingof the screens and printing each colored file separately till all colors are printed. Finally, the colors are left to dry before use. The screens used also need to be carefully stored for next usage.
In digital printing, one only needs to send the data for through a soft copy, such as email, pen drive, etc., or a hard copy. Once received, the data is checked, converted into soft copy from the hard copy by scanning and printed by means of an inkjet or laser jet printer. It doesn’t require separation of colors and the printing is done in full color CMYK. The data can be preserved on the computer for later use.
Analog printing involves replacing of printing plates or screens, whereas there are no plates or screens involved in digital printing. Digital printing uses several methods, such as dye sublimation, often used for proofs, and thermal wax, used in transparencies.
Analog printing uses inks that are prone to smudging and spilling. Digital printing, on the other hand, makes use of an inkjet printer or a laser printer which drops toner, with no chance of smudging or spilling. This is because digital printing makes use of a fuser agent (by means of heating method) or an Ultra -Violet curing method.
- Printing media
For analog printing, only that printing medium can be used that doesn’t absorb or spread ink. However, for digital printing a number of printing media can be used, such as paper, canvas, glass, photo paper, metal, marble and others.
- Printing quality
Digital printing scores over analog printing in all aspects of printing quality, be it photo reproduction, embossing, printing on irregular surface, low quantity printing, large quantity printing and variable data.
As compared to analog printing, digital printing proves way cheaper. This is not only because digital printing saves on printing plates or screens, but also because items can be printed to order without paper wastage, not possible in analog printing. Digital printing also saves cost by providing a quicker turnaround.
Latest developments in digital printing
Digital printing will continue to evolve through newer techniques. The latest technique on the block is . This printing process is based on LandaNanoInk, a water-based ink. What makes it different from other inks are the nano-pigments that measure tens of nanometers in diameter.
The process involves bombarding billions of ink droplets, ejected by means of ink ejectors in different colors, over a heated conveyor blanket. Once the water evaporates from these droplets, it leaves an ultra-thin, dry polymeric film that flatten and blend together. What’s more, these droplets do not penetrate the substrate, thereby completely ruling out smudging or blurring.
The technique produces a color image that is deemed the thinnest of any printing process, being a mere 500 nanometer in thickness! This image is then transferred from the blanket to the substrate. By matching the gloss of the paper, an exceptionally sharp edged and high gloss fidelity image is obtained.
This printing technology is capable of reproducing such sharp and vivid colored images on almost all printing media, such as paper, plastics, packaging films, etc. It also doesn’t require any pre-treatment or post drying requirements. The images can be instantly processed upon printing.
Evidently, the rise in digital techniques in printing, such as nanographic printing, is revolutionizing the way printing is done. This latest technique uses nano-pigments that are excellent light absorbers, produce brilliant colors and thinnest images.
Cost-wise, this technique uses less expensive pigments and yields the lowest cost-per-page among all digital printing technologies. This technique is certainly not the last word in digital printing techniques that continue to evolve.