Digital printing is the reproduction of digital images on a physical surface. It is generally used for short print runs, and for the personalisation of printouts.
The process differs from classical press printing in several ways:
- All prints can be different, because printing plates are not required.
- There are less wasted chemicals 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, e.g., a heat process.
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 personalised 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.