A digital printing press is run by computer. Unlike a traditional press, in digital printing,
no plates are created before printing. The images go directly from the computer to a waterless,
offset printing press through direct imaging. This eliminates film, photographic plates and
all associated chemicals. The colors all print at once, rather than having one plate for each
color, as in traditional offset printing.
Rather than taking a picture and creating photographic plates, as traditional offset printing does,
digital printing with direct imaging uses a technique called "ablation technology." A laser removes
silicone and image-forming layers from a polyester plate in the printer where ink should be laid down. This exposes a
polyester layer that accepts ink. No chemicals are used in this process and it is done almost
The benefits of digital printing presses over traditional printing include lower cost -- about 50
percent lower on average. Also, exact proofing is possible with digital, and the time required to
run a job is much quicker. Digital printing also has an advantage over using a color printer because
it is more cost effective for larger runs. Digital printing is quicker and easier to prepare since it doesn't
require wetting the stock. It has less paper stretch and more consistent process control.
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