Everything you need to know about digital printing and its types

8 min readDec 20, 2022

If you want to print your book at low cost, high speed and low circulation, digital printing is the most affordable option for you. For more guidance, in this article we are going to explain the capabilities, uses, advantages and cheapest methods of digital printing.

What is digital printing?

The process of converting digital images to printed surfaces is called digital printing.

Simply put, digital printing is a term that describes exactly how ink is printed directly onto a substrate. This method, in a nutshell, is very similar to how your home color printer works, but in a much larger format!

This method provides the possibility of fast printing in small circulation and gives you the possibility to change the design and its contents in each printed sheet.

Also, digital printing has a lower cost for printing each page compared to traditional methods such as offset; Because they use the expensive tool “zinc” for offset printing.

Digital printing is a reliable alternative to other traditional methods such as lithography, flexography, gravure, letter printing, etc. In this new method, many mechanical steps required for normal printing, such as making films and colors, manual separation of parts, etc., have been removed.

Digital printing is the process of printing digital-based images on a variety of media platforms directly, and unlike offset printing, it does not require a printing plate. Digital files such as PDFs or desktop publishing files can be sent directly to a digital printer to be printed on paper, photo paper, canvas, fabric, synthetic materials, cardboard and other substrates.

Getting to know the types of digital printing based on the dimensions of the printing surface

Types of digital printing are divided into three categories according to the dimensions of the printed surface:

Medium format digital printing

The maximum size of printed works in this format is A3+, i.e. 48 x 33 cm. Digital printing in these dimensions is done by laser (toner), inkjet and optical methods and includes a large part of digital printing orders such as printing business cards, catalogs, photos, labels printed on different surfaces, etc.

Large format digital printing

The printing dimensions in this format range from A3+ to 150 cm wide and it is done using the same medium format printing methods. This category is used in orders such as posters, which are up to 150 cm wide and are often used for indoor use.

Wide format digital printing

The printing dimensions in this format range from 150 cm wide to 500 cm wide, and due to the large dimensions, these orders are mostly used for outdoor use.

Also, the printed items of this category are resistant to environmental factors such as sunlight and water.

Familiarity with various digital printing methods

The types of digital printing methods are divided into the following main groups based on the type and digital technology used in them:

Digital printing by inkjet method

The inkjet method is the highest quality digital printing method. The devices of this method include all kinds of desktop printers to 5-meter wide devices.

The inkjet system places digital information directly on paper by means of liquid inks. But since the printing speed in this method is low, it is not possible to use it in high circulations.

Since inkjet printers use real ink, you can generally get high-quality, vivid color photos. The only disadvantage of this method is that inkjet printers do not reach the speed of laser printers due to the “nature of the inkjet printing process”.

Digital printing by electrophotographic method

The electrophotographic method is divided into two solid powder or toner composite models and liquid or digital composite models.

Composite digital method

This method, which uses colored inks instead of toner, is suitable for high-volume work. The output of these devices is very high quality, but the complexity of the technology used in them has made them not widely used by the public.

This technology was only available to Indigo company for many years, but the main limitation of these devices is its high price and the size of the printing work, which is not higher than SRA3.

Tonary method

Toner systems create images that are created by the melting of color powder on paper at a faster rate than inkjet systems. However, this method is not as digitalized as the inkjet method.

In this method, there are many analog intermediaries between the ink reservoir and the printing surfaces, but due to its high speed, it has found industrial uses and is considered one of the most efficient digital printing devices, especially in medium sizes. These devices combined with a scanner are known as copiers or lasers.

Digital printing by optical or beam method

In the optical or beam digital method — which is another widely used method of digital printing — the selected image is created by irradiating light rays on special and light-sensitive papers (similar to photographic paper) and stabilized after the emerging stage.

In digital printing, due to removing the plate from the printing process, the speed is very high; In such a way that it is possible to print in low circulations and even one copy. For this reason, this printing is also used to produce samples before mass orders. Of course, you should know that they do not use optical or beam printers for millions of copies.

Printing by Direct Imaging

This method is actually the offset printers in which the plate preparation system is embedded. The printing operation in these devices is done automatically and is directed only through the computer.

The input information to the printer is in the form of a computer file; Due to the existence of this image medium, the use of this method is not cost-effective for low-circulation prints and is completely uneconomical for single-sheet printing (unlike other digital printing methods).

In this method, like the previous methods, it is not possible to use the unique capabilities of digital printing, such as printing variable information.

Thermal digital printing

In this method, heat-sensitive paper is used; The heat caused by the laser creates color and image on the sensitive paper surface. It is customary to use this method in small monochrome devices, the most common of which are fax machines.

Of course, the general use of the thermal method is decreasing day by day due to the replacement of new methods.

Digital printing by dye-sublimation method

This method has good quality and speed. In these devices, colored materials are placed on cellophanes, which various rays such as lasers vaporize the color from the cellophane strips and record them on paper. The use of this method is common in photography laboratories for photo printing due to the good print quality.

The printing dimensions of this method are usually small, and although its initial price is not high, the finished cost of this printing method is high due to its consumables (expensive colored cellophanes).

In this method, it is possible to print on various papers, and in the past it has been used a lot to print outdoor advertising posters, in circulation and medium sizes.

Digital printing using laser markers

Laser marker devices are most widely used in the manufacturing industries of various goods. These devices are very useful for entering information on the production line of products, and for this reason, they are used more and more in industries.

Laser printers use lasers to transfer digital images to surfaces. During the printing process, the laser moves back and forth to create static electricity and release heated toner onto the surface.
In laser markers, the laser beam creates the image on the desired surface by burning and heating. These devices have good speed, but they have a high initial investment cost.

Laser printers are also much faster than inkjet printers, so you can use them to print large volumes of documents, such as books with many pages.
One of the downsides of laser printers is that they usually cannot produce color images with the same quality as inkjet printers.

How is the digital printing process done?

How is the digital printing process done?

Unlike other methods, printed pages are not used in the digital printing process; For this reason, the cost of setting it up is very low. In the digital printing process, it can be used for all kinds of goods such as paper, foam, plastic, etc.

The steps of digital printing are as follows:

For digital printing, they use a digital photo or design. Digital designs are designed using software such as Photoshop, Illustrator, AutoCAD, Corel, etc. and are saved in vector or other formats.
After the design, the type of paper is prepared according to the client’s needs. Determining the weight of paper is the most important issue in this section.
At the end of the design, it is printed on one side or two sides. Now that everything is ready, you need to connect the computer to the printer using ports. Without intermediaries, the design is connected to digital printers and the printing process is done completely automatically without human intervention with the least possible error.

Digital printing is best for items that require a lot of detail and orders that are smaller in number. Unlike conventional printing, there is no pre-printing step between the digital document files and the finished product. There’s also no need for messy formatting equipment like film plates or photo chemicals.

What is the use of digital printing?

The use of digital printing in printing pages in limited circulation is done at high speed. Most people think that digital printing devices can print an unlimited number of images, but in fact, this system can only print a certain amount of pages and different images.

However, with the addition of new features to the digital printing system, the previous limitations such as limited edition printing have been partially removed.

Despite the limitations in this field, in digital printing, printing surfaces can be printed completely different from the previous surfaces in terms of design, shape and appearance, and products can be printed on any surface with a different shape and appearance.

Also, the use of digital printing for the advertising industry is undeniable. These advertisements can be in the form of advertising packs or outdoor advertisements such as banners, billboards, etc. The most important reason for choosing digital printing is the speed and quality of printing for environmental advertising.


Digital printing is developing rapidly. Thanks to its speed, efficiency and quality, older printing technologies are likely to become obsolete in the near future. Digital printing is more expensive per page than conventional methods. However, the cost of manufacturing the printing plates is eliminated, reducing the overall cost.

Digital printing can be done on demand and in a short period of time. Images can also be easily changed for each impression. With huge labor savings and rapidly improving capabilities, digital printing has slowly overtaken more traditional methods such as offset printing. So there is no reason why you should not choose digital printing for low-run, high-quality, affordable print marketing.

By taking full advantage of digital printing capabilities, you can create high-quality products and marketing merchandise while maintaining your company’s reputation with advanced digital printing technology.





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