Color makes printed marketing media more attractive to consumers. But until recently, quality full color printing was only available using traditional printing methods, such as offset printing, which is most cost effective for medium to large runs.
The introduction of digital printing gave some marketers an alternative for small runs, but historically, the quality of the printing process has been far below that of traditional printing methods. However, digital color printing technology has come a long way, and in many ways the quality is now comparable to traditional printing methods.
There are three main advances in printing technology that have improved the quality and versatility of digital printing:
- Increased resolution capability. Digital printers can handle high resolution inputs, such as 1600 to as high as 4800 dpi, resulting in crisp text and detailed graphics that don’t look pixilated.
- Increased throughput. Today’s digital color printers can print pieces faster, anywhere from 50 ppm to 110 ppm, resulting in shorter overall print job times. These printers can also handle different types of media, from letter size paper to postcard stock to envelopes.
- Improved ink development. Specialty inks have been developed that allow media to be printed onto heavy weight and glossy card stock without smearing or bleeding.
Printer manufacturers, such as Xerox, have created lines of digital color printing presses to fit the needs of any marketing media. For the medium to large print runs, however, traditional print methods remain more cost effective than digital color printing. That being said, keep in mind that traditional printing can be combined with digital printing to add personalized content to each piece.