Digital Printing Basics for Decorative Labels
Digital printing is the fastest growing printing technology for decorative labels. According to industry research, the digital printing segment is expected to continue to outperform all other label printing technologies by a substantial margin. As the technology advances, press speeds and capabilities are continually increasing and thus fueling continued growth.
With digital printing, the computer generated output is printed directly onto the substrate (paper or film material) eliminating the prepress process and printing plates or cylinders. This saves time, lessens costs and allows for short print runs to be economically produced.
The print also has exceptionally high quality with perfect registration of colors with no need for trapping (in traditional printing colors are trapped to hide registration movement). There is also less dot gain (the amount a color dot expands during printing) for better looking images.
In digital printing presses, digital data (text and images) are transferred directly from a computer to the press. Variable information from a database (batch coding, names, photos, etc) can be printed on each label without the need to produce new plates or additional make-readies for each run – making the customization possibilities endless.
Combined with digital finishing, digitally printed labels can also be custom die cut, and feature hot and cold foil stamping, various special effect coatings and embossing.
The digital printing process is able to replicate lithographic, flexographic, letterpress, rotogravure and extended gamut printing processes.
• Redefines speed-to-market (hours vs weeks)
• Economical for short runs
• Replicates traditional printing processes
• High quality and consistency
• Ideal for test markets, prototyping and sales samples
• Print variable information
Although the technology is continuing to advance, there are still some limitations with digital printing. The slower speeds and narrower widths limit large run economics (> tens of thousands). Typically line/spot colors are also limited (most digital presses use CMYK process inks with some using extended gamut).