All Digital Printing is not the same.

Most people have no idea what all the phrase "digital printing" can encompass. There are numerous quality levels and technologies that fit into that category. First of all, there is black and white digital printing and color digital printing. Black and white is almost always toner based machines such as copiers, Docutechs and Digimasters. Because it is toner based, quality is somewhat limited although the Docutech and Digimaster do a decent job for 600 DPI. Mostly used for text and line art they will do halftones to limited quality.

Color Digital Printing encompasses anything from color copies from a color copier to desktop printer to high end digital presses that can cost a half million dollars. You have toner based machines like the CanonCLC, IGen3 and Nexpress and then you have liquid ink presses such as the HP Indigo and DI presses.

All of these machines are trying to get as close as the offset look as they can. The toner based machines are going to have the layered toner look. The IGen3 and Nexpress do the best of this class. You will still see where one toner color has gone over another toner color and it is at a higher level but for most customers it is definitely acceptable. The liquid ink machines do a better job of offset look.

The DI(digital image)presses are offset presses so they win the contest on offset look. They cannot do variable data printing nor do they have the ink carrying capacity of larger offset presses so there are issues on certain jobs. The DI presses can do spot colors. The HP Indigo does a good job of simulating offset quality and does variable data printing. It is also the only digital press that does true spot colors besides the DI presses. The HP Indigo's limitation is in size at 12.5 x18.5" while the others will feed a larger size.

This gives you a little background to decide what kind of digital press you need to run your print job. Because they are not all made equal.

Here are references to some of the high end digital press manufacturers:
HP Indigo

Also Read:
Variable Data Printing
Indigo Digital Press Inks
On Demand Printing
Digital Printing PMS Colors
Should my Job be Printed or Photocopied

Written by Buzz Tatom
The Odee Company