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How does Digital Printing Work?

Have you ever wondered how digital printing works? The term is thrown around a lot but do you know what it is? Are you are curious to find out more and how we can give you such high-quality work every single time.

Digital Printing is a term which defines how ink is printed directly onto a substrate. The method of digital printing is a very similar process to how your home colour printer works, but on a larger format. The printer normally prints in 4 colour process (CMYK), which is made up of C (Cyan), M (Magenta), Y (Yellow) and K (Black); the image is split in to these primary colours and prints as a set of patterns or percentages of each colour to make up the desired image; for example, if you print 100% Yellow and 100% Magenta, the colour will be Red. Our digital presses are also capable of printing White. The inks we use are translucent because we need to blend them to create the image so if we print onto clear substrates in CMYK only, the image will be translucent giving it a stained glass window effect but when we add White this helps to underpin the colour, reduce the translucency and make the image more opaque.

UV and UV LED Digital Printing

UV printing refers to the curing process of the ink. On a standard home printer, you would be printing directly on to a paper or card which will absorb some of the ink and give it time to dry by air. But when printing on to a plastic substrate there is no absorption and the ink would just run off the sheet so we need an additional drying solution to help dry the inks. This comes in the form of UV ink that dries or cures using a UV or UV LED light source. The ink is still fired from the printer head in the same manner as above but the ink is then exposed to UV or UV LED light in very quick bursts to dry it. This all happens in a matter of seconds giving the ink a hard film which stops it from pooling on the plastic. This process actually has great advantage as it makes the inks durable and robust and in addition to this, the curing has excellent light fast properties which means the ink will not fade as quickly as standard inks would do in direct sunlight, essential for window stickers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Digital Printing

Digital printing technology is continuously improving with the printer heads getting smaller, the print quality gets better and the speeds getting quicker, making Digital printing fast, cost effective and the future of printing. Digital printing has great advantages over other types of printing processes as there is no pre-press cost for plates or costly stencils which are used in litho and screen printing and there is no need for additional set up material which is usually required in other forms of printing thus saving money on expensive materials. With these advantages in mind, digital printing really lends itself to custom designed or personalised print options which would be very expensive on a litho or screen process.  The Digital flat bed press can also print on to materials up to 50mm thick which makes it versatile for a wide range of substrates where even a traditional screen or litho presses would struggle.

Is there another option if Digital Printing isn't Suitable/Cost Effective

Digital printing is generally restricted to CMYK output and special Pantone colours are seldom used. This may be important to be aware of, if for example, you need to colour match exactly to a corporate logo colour. In some instances it is possible to print using Pantone colours but it is a very costly process to do Digitally. So if Pantone colours are necessary, we can Screen or UV litho print instead as more cost effective solution.

Digital printing is ideal for lower quantities and although the machine speeds are getting faster each year, there will be a certain quantity reached where the faster print speeds of the UV litho and Screen machines provide a more cost effective solution.

With our online store, we have already worked out the most cost effective ways to produce your work, but if you would like to know how your job is being produced, please just ask, but no matter what process we use you are in safe hands. With over 40 years of printing under our belts, we have the knowledge and expertise to produce high quality printing for you.

Contact Us for Digital Printing

If you are looking for digital printing, Reflex Print Store has the resources and expertise to ensure that you have the highest quality product available to you.

If you have any questions or would like to get in touch with us please use the details below.

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Call us on: 01892 752 885
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A flat bed UV digital press running

image of digital press