40 years ago, printing was a different industry than the one it is today. Graphic artists would produce their work by hand, either drawing or by taking pieces from artwork books and compiling any writing with lettering machines. This then had to be photographed onto a plate, which was thin and usually made of metal. The plate was then fixed to the roller of the printing press and the paper had to be run through the press for each different color that was required. This was all a long, drawn out process, but printing has been helped by technology over the years, and if someone who was a printer in those days were to see a modern print shop, they would be surprised how printing has changed in the last 40 years.
The Digital Revolution
The digital revolution has changed all aspects of the printing industry. It was always a case of the bigger the run the lower the unit price was. This meant that businesses particularly often ordered runs of 10,000 or more of the same item. If the item was advertising leaflets, this meant that everyone that was being targeted saw exactly the same thing. If it was business stationery and then a phone number or zip code changed, the stationery was wasted.
Now small runs are not a problem, as the setting up costs involved have been reduced dramatically by digital printing. That means advertising leaflets can be in smaller quantities and adjusted for the demographic that is being targeted. No more wasting business stationery either. Smaller amounts can be ordered and if there is a change to details it is not a major job to make any adjustment.
Digital technology has created powerful design tools that can be used to add or remove anything the customer wants, making the artwork for a print job much easier and of a better quality. Print shops are always able to produce a higher quality product if they have good artwork to start with.
Printing onto different types of paper could be a problem with the old methods, and different machines where needed to cope with the variety of those available. Now it does not matter if you want your printing on glossy, recycled, uncoated, thick, or thin paper, digital printing copes with it all.
Printing on Other Materials
With the old offset litho presses, as they were called, you could only print on paper. Digital printing allows printing on a huge variety of materials, which in turn means that you can now have calendars, postcards, mouse mats, mugs, special shapes, DVD packages and a whole range of other things. Even large signs or banners are not a problem with digital printing.
Keeping Up with New Technology
Digital printing is here to stay, and when used correctly with the proper equipment, can provide a smooth workflow for the print workshops, and a high-quality product for the customer. The secret is that the printers need to keep pace with the ever-changing technology. If they do not embrace the latest innovations, they are likely to fall behind their competitors.