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Types of Digital Printing

Updated: Jan 2

With the advent of the digital era, printing options have significantly evolved. While traditional printing methods are still used, technological advancements have paved the way for alternatives, such as digital printing. The different types of digital printing have revolutionized the printing industry, reducing printing time and costs and delivering exceptional results. 


Read and join us to unravel the intricacies of each printing method and explore their strengths and applications across various industries. 


Types of Digital Printing
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: KOKTARO

Exploring Digital Printing


Digital printing is a versatile method of printing that involves printing digital-based images onto a wide range of media substrates. For this type of printing, the digital files are sent directly to the press in order to be printed on various surfaces. 


Individuals, companies, and organizations can design their brochures and email those files to professional digital printing services to receive the desired print. Needless to say, this type of printing offers quick turnaround times, is suitable for short print runs, and enables a high level of personalization. 


But what are the different types of digital printing? Having been at the forefront of the printing industry, we will explore the different digital printing methods and discuss their capabilities and applications, catering to different needs in the printing industry. 


Different Types of Digital Printing


Inkjet printing 


Inkjet printing involves copying an image from a computer or other digital device and reproducing it into paper or plastic to create a digital image. The process is intricate, as the printers send countless small jets of ink on the paper to create the print. 


For vibrant colors, the print may use a dye-based ink and a pigment-based one for longevity. The inkjet printing is often used for bright-colored text and images. It is suitable for various applications such as posters, banners, and fine art reproduction. 


Digital offset printing


Digital offset printing combines elements of traditional offset printing, such as efficiency, with the advantages of digital technology. This method transfers the digital images to the plates before they are applied onto a substrate. It is a popular method as it offers both high-quality and cost-effective results. Its typical applications include brochures, magazines, stationery, and books. 


Laser printing 

The printer implements this method to reproduce an image from a digital device with the help of a laser. The method is known for its speed and efficiency. It utilizes laser beams to transfer the tone on the paper and create the desired image. 


The laser moves back and forth and develops static electricity, releasing ink and printing the desired image. Laser printing is high-speed and precise. This makes it ideal for documents such as office documents, brochures, and promotional materials. 


Digital press printing


This is the digital alternative to the traditional press method intended for high-volume orders. The technique involves sending digital files directly to the press, which eliminates the need for printing plates. Digital press printing is a printing technique suitable for short print runs as well as variable data printing. 


Solid ink printing


For this printing method, the printer fills the cartridges with solid ink sticks and loads them into a solid printer. The sticks are melted into a liquid form before they are transferred onto paper. 


Once the printing is finished, the bars are heated to the melting point with the ink and then passed onto the paper to generate the artwork. Such printing is environmentally friendly and results in prints with vibrant colors. 


Thermal wax printing


This type of printing involves using heat to transfer a print onto a piece of paper. The thermal print head applies heat to a wax-based ribbon, transferring the wax onto paper. It is commonly used for high-quality color printing and works well for businesses that need to produce large quantities of print for colorful presentations. 


3D printing


Compared to traditional printing, 3D printing is an additive technology that creates three-dimensional, often complex objects. The object is made by laying down layers of material specifically made for such printing. 


3D printing has revolutionized prototyping and manufacturing processes. This versatile printing technique is used for creating custom prototypes and has many other applications. 


Digital Printing Techniques Ideal for Printing on Fabric


As mentioned, digital printing is suitable for a variety of substracts. In the realm of textile printing, digital technologies have transformed the way patterns, colors, and designs are applied to fabrics. 


So, what are the different types of digital printing technologies available for printing on fabric? Let’s explore the prominent printing techniques that offer precision, customization, and versatility. 


Dye sublimation


This printing technique involves transferring dye onto different materials using heat. It is based on transferring heat to apply an image on the chosen substrate. Dye sublimation supports printing on fabric as well as plastic and synthetic material. 


It produces long-lasting and vibrant images on a variety of surfaces. This makes the printing method suitable for apparel printing, high-quality photo prints, and promotional products. It is also popular for mugs and photo prints. This printing technique works well for polyester fabrics, sportswear, and promotional materials.


Dye sublimation
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: Itsanan

Direct-to-garment printing


This method involves printing directly onto the fabric without transferring papers. Since it applies the ink directly to the fabric, this method produces detailed prints with high-color vibrancy and intricate details. The DTG printing technique is utilized for fashion apparel and natural fabrics like cotton and silk, offering a soft feel and comfortable wear.


Its applications include home textiles and custom fabric designs. This cost-effective method suits companies producing personalized garments for small-medium production runs and multi-color designs on different fabric options. 


Pigment printing


Pigment printing is a process that involves the use of color pigments that stick to the fabric through binding agents. It is an alternative to direct printing and can be carried out easily on all types of fabrics. It gives the fabric a colorful surface without penetrating it.


Pigment printing also brings several environmental benefits, including water-based inks. It provides good color fastness, works well with various fabrics, and leaves detailed colors on the fabric and the texture. 


Reactive printing


The way reactive printing works is by using dyes that react chemically with the fabric. The reactive dye is combined with steam, permanently locking the color onto the fabric. It produces vivid and durable prints. The method is commonly used for natural fibers such as silk, cotton, wool, etc. Reactive printing results in vibrant and long-lasting prints.


UV digital printing


UV digital printing involves using ink on plastic, wood, metal, and ceramic materials. It has the ability to dry almost immediately using a burst of ultraviolet light through the LEDs of the printing machines. It provides vibrant print colors and durability. 


UV printing suits small printing volumes without color limits and with high quality. It allows for printing on diverse surfaces, including unconventional materials. It is often used for signage, industrial printing, and for printing promotional materials. 


Digital transfer printing


In digital transfer printing, the design is printed using heat. The desired image or artwork is printed onto white transfer paper, cut out with a plotter, and placed onto the object. The images adhere permanently to the fabric. 


One of the best features of this printing method is its versatility. It enables printing on a variety of fabrics and is often used for intricate designs and small production runs. Aside from textiles, it can be seamlessly applied to various materials, including glass, plastic, and metal. 


Latex printing


The process of latex printing consists of using water-based inks that are cured with heat. It uses latex as the carrier for color pigment and produces vibrant colors and clear graphics. This is an eco-friendly method that works well with various fabrics.


It has a wide range of applications, including soft signage, wallpapers, and vehicle graphics. It is an excellent option for many businesses as it produces prints with high color intensity, durability, and flexibility. 


Additional Types of Digital Printing


On-demand printing


Print-on-demand works well with small printing volumes and reduces waste and storage costs. This type of printing is ideal for companies that constantly update their printing materials. It requires the use of a digital color printer or a DI printer for a print of high quality. Digital printing is commonly used for on-demand printing. 


Variable data printing


Variable image printing is a method of printing suitable for customized and personalized content. It allows for customizing each printed piece with specific information, such as names, addresses, or images. It is often used in direct marketing. This type of digital printing is ideal for organizations giving the same information to a group of people while also adjusting it to each individual. 


Web-to-print


Compared to other print methods, this is an online printing model. Web-enabled printing allows customers to submit print jobs to be customized and personalized online into a print management system. 


The clients can choose images to include in the printing material and send them to the print supplier in the desired quantity. Web-to-print streamlines the printing process and enables easy customization of print materials through web interfaces.


Web-to-print
Source: shutterstock.com / Photo Contributor: DmyTo

Conclusion


Digital printing is a technology that converges with creativity to redefine the process of how we transfer text and images onto various surfaces. It involves a variety of different printing methods, achieving vibrant and accurate colors and clear images. 


Understanding the different types of digital printing can help you choose the proper technique based on fabric type, desired print quality, and intended application. Digital printing is a versatile solution for different industries, from marketing to textiles. If you are interested in quality digital services, don’t hesitate to contact us today!


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