Digital printing is printing using digital techniques developed for computer printers such as inkjet or laser printers.
The process differs from lithography, flexography, gravure, and letterpress printing in several ways:
* Every print can be different, because printing plates are not required, as in traditional methods.
* There is less waste chemical and paper, because there is no need to bring the image "up to colour" and check for registration and position.
* The ink or toner does not permeate the substrate, as does conventional ink, but forms a thin layer on the surface and may in some systems be additionally adhered to the substrate by using a fuser fluid with heat process (toner) or UV curing process (ink).
Because there is less initial setup, it is useful for rapid prototyping, and cost effective for small print runs.
Digital Printing is used for personalized printing, or variable data printing (VDP or VI), for example personalized children's books, which are customized with the specific child's name and images. Print on Demand (POD) systems also use digital printing, for short run books of varying page quantities, and binding techniques.
Digital prints can also be done on photographic paper, exposed with RGB laser lights from computer files, and processed in photographic developers and fixers. These prints are continuous tone images, and have the dyes imbedded in emulsion layers within plastic coatings. They can be very archival.