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Digital printing is printing that uses electronic files in print production. The two kinds of equipment used to produce digital printing are the Direct Imaging Press (DI) and the Digital Color Printer. The three different types of digital printing are On-Demand, Variable Data, and Web-to-Print.
Both the DI and the Digital Color Printer are used for quick, short-runs of digital printing, but they are quite different and give different results. DI Presses are based on an offset, or conventional, printing method that develops the images automatically and may be waterless. Digital Color Printers use electrophotography, Inkjet, or Xerography to develop the images with toners, dry-ink, or dyes. A DI Press usually produces better quality results, but digital printing done with a Digital Color Printer is still comparable with traditional offset printing.
On-Demand, or Print-on-Demand (POD), allows for small amounts of printing to be done, which is perfect for companies that need to constantly update their printed pieces. A Digital Color Printer is typically used for On-Demand printing, unless a higher quality of print is needed, in which case a DI Press can be used. If both quality and time are crucial, a waterless DI Press can be used as the drying time is very quick.
Variable Data Printing (VDP), or Variable Image Printing, is a customized and personalized type of digital printing. Databases containing specific consumer information make each piece of the same mail design personalized to each recipient. For example, when you receive direct mail with your name and/or address personalized in the text it is probably helped along with VDP digital printing techniques. Consumers appreciate personalized mail as it is less general since the databases often include customer preferences and ordering history to speed up the communication process. VDP digital printing is perfect for giving the same basic information to a group, while also adjusting the information to each individual customer.
Web-to-Print digital printing, or Web-Enabled printing, allows for direct mail pieces to be customized and personalized online in a print management program. Even clients and customers can choose images such as photographs to include in materials such as brochures. A proof is shown online and when the piece is ready, one click sends it to the print supplier. The print supplier will usually have the required quantity of the digital print in the mail to the client in one or two business days.