Digital printing is the most recent development in printing. It is the only printing method to work directly from a computer - hence 'digital'. It is not often used for mass production - that is, over 500 prints - due to how long it takes to produce a print. Digital printers rely on a system called RIP (Rasta Image Processor) in order for interact with the computer successfully to produce a print. Digital printers print using CMYK colours, however, even though the concept of using spot colour is possible through digital printing, it is a waste of time because of how much it costs to produce the ink, along with many other reasons such as individual colour combinations would be likely to need their own printers. Digital printers can be commonly found around small printers in most towns and cities making them a lot more readily available to the public than other, more specialist printing methods.
There are generally two types of printer. They are inkjet and laser. They both work in CMYK but apply the ink differently. Inkjets work with wet ink in cartridges that are placed in the printer. Ink is applied by the printer head which sweeps over the stock and applies the appropriate ink at the appropriate time as the paper is fed through by rollers:
A. Pump, B. Ink Sensor, C. Ink Cartridges, D. Print Head, E. Vent Chamber
Laser jet printers work differently. They use toner which is applied to the paper using a technique involving static electricity which charges atoms positively on the paper and the coloured toner making them stick to the paper. Here is a basic diagram of a laser jet printer:
To finish off, here are a couple of images of digital printing in action:
Be seeing you!