How Does Digital Printing Work?

December 8, 2018

What the heck is digital printing? Is it any different from regular printing? 

Widely known as laser or inkjet printing, digital printing takes a digital file such as a PDF or a file created in Illustrator from a graphic designer eliminating the need for metal plates used in offset printing, and transfers that image onto a variety of available mediums. 

More and more commercial shops are switching to digital printing because it offers quicker turnaround times and costs less than traditional offset printing. However, the printers used at a commercial print shop are higher quality than desktop printers. A desktop printer can cost $100 and is good for printing out a few pages at a time. A digital printing press is a high-end commercial printer used to print high-quality print projects. 

In addition to the well-known laser and inkjet printing, dye sublimation, solid ink, thermal autochrome and thermal wax are other digital printing methods available. 


Digital Printing

So how does digital printing work? Digital printing uses digital images to print directly onto a variety of surfaces, including heavy cardstock, fabric (including T-shirt printing) plastics and more. Digital printing inks include the traditional CMYK printing of traditional printing as well as metallics and all the other colors in the rainbow. 

This process doesn’t use metal plates, but rather uses toner for laser printers. Digital printing is great for short runs; for example, you may need a proposal printed and bound to give to a client, 100 flyers or five posters. It’s also great if you need different information printed on each piece such as names, numbers or addresses. 

Benefits of Digital Printing

  • Faster turn-around times.
  • Less expensive for producing smaller print quantities.
  • Easier and less expensive to make last-minute changes to a project.

Digital printing can be used for a variety of projects, including, but not limited to:

  • Brochures
  • Business cards
  • Postcards
  • Signs
  • Posters
  • Calendars
  • Large-format
  • Photos
  • Blueprints


Traditional Printing

Traditional printing, called offset printing, was the standard in commercial printing for decades (actually centuries). It required an experienced technician to create a printing plate, typically made from thin metal, such as aluminum, zinc or steel. This was accomplished either by sand-blasting, wet or dry brushing, or ball graining, but most do it now through electrochemical graining and oxidation. The plate is used to transfer the desired image onto rubber. The rubber was then rolled onto a sheet of paper or other medium to create the desired final product. 

The image is put on the plates using a photochemical or photomechanical process during prepress (a stage of production). Separate plates are created for each color needed. Therefore, if you are printing using 4 color, you need more plates and therefore the cost of the job increases. Additional plates may be used if a special Pantone color is needed, or a special ink like metallic. If you only print using black ink like newspapers, then only one plate is needed. 

Getting Your Projects Printed

Falcon Document Solutions is trusted by hundreds of businesses in the Fort Worth and Dallas areas to provide high-quality, beautifully printed projects. Our Fort Worth print shop and Dallas print shop both have commercial digital presses. We use quality, commercial digital printers to produce a variety of jobs including wide-format and traditional sizes. Our team has been in the printing business for decades and can help you with your next Fort Worth print job or Dallas print job. Contact one of our experts today at 817-870-0330 in Fort Worth or 214-420-0030 in Dallas for your printing needs.

Call our document imaging and scanning experts today at (817) 870-0330 to schedule your next project.