As more and more commercial printers are increasing their digital options (it is rare to find a printer that does not have some kind of digital press) the price of digital printing continues to fall, resulting in higher breakeven quantities between offset and digital. Combined with an increase in print quality with the newer machines, digital printing has become a higher-quality, more cost effective option than ever.
My favorite cut sheet digital printer is the HP Indigo. This machine uses liquid ink versus toner, which allows for crisper images, no banding on large solid colors and offers optional spot PMS colors (for those jobs when 4 color process equivalent is just not good enough). Unless you have a loop in your hand, you will be hard pressed to tell the difference between the finished product of the HP Indigo printer versus an offset printer.
Digital printing can be leveraged for many types of jobs in very cost effective ways:
- Small 4 color print runs from 10 pieces to 20,000 pieces (depending on the size of the piece)
- Multiple Versions – Projects that have multiple versions of a single component (for helpful hints see How to Lower Printing Costs: Part #2 - “Gang Printing” - Combining Print Runs for Multiple Items).
- Multiple Components – Projects that have multiple package components that can be gang printed on a single form (for helpful hints see How to Lower Printing Costs: Part #2 - “Gang Printing” - Combining Print Runs for Multiple Items).
- Package designs where variable copy should be in color so the information being conveyed is easier to understand.
- Continuous Form 4 Color Variable Printing: Manufacturers have been trying to perfect this for over a decade rather unsuccessfully but the technology has finally caught up with the vision and is now a good option for the right project. Several manufacturers have come out with continuous form full color variable printers. One of the best in my opinion is HP T200 and T235 – it is fast and the print quality / color is great. If you have a large printing project that needs have personalization, multiple versions of copy, dynamic images, customized color palates, or etc..., this can be a very cost effective printing option. Not only will you save on the printing but if the variable piece (s) are being mailed and can be put into a single production run, you will save tremendously on lettershop lot charges and postage costs (for helpful hints see How to Lower Printing Costs: Part #3 – Microtargeting).
So if you have not explored digital printing in a while, it may be time to take a fresh look. If you have not explored it yet, what are you waiting for – you could be missing out on huge savings and higher ROI figures.