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History of Digital Printing

History of Digital Printing

It is impossible to imagine modern polygraphy without digital printing. Due to this technological innovation, people can complete complex projects much faster. With the help of operational printing, it has become possible to print documents directly from the computer without additional prepress processes.

Thus, it saves considerable time for the production of printed products. Another advantage of digital printing consists in the fact that it is an easy-to-use technology. Digital printing exists for about 70 years and nowadays, it is perhaps the most popular modern printing method.


Digital printing had its beginning in the late 30s of the XX century. The author Michael Bhaskar states that “digital networks and the possibility of digital publishing have long roots and architectures translating into a specific set of questions for publishers” (p. 56). October 22, 1938, Chester Carlson received the first electro-photographic imprint (Bhaskar, 2013). In 1948, this invention was called xerography and Haloid released the first commercial Xerox Model A Copy Machine. It was the first technology that let everyone duplicate things. With time, the company Haloid was renamed to Xerox. In the future, the development of this company played a great role in the formation of a completely new type of printing, which was digital printing (Bhaskar, 2013). In 1969, an employee of the Rochester Research Laboratory proved that the image could be transferred to paper with the help of the laser beam followed by xerographic printing (Bhaskar, 2013). The first printer appeared in 1972. It used a helium-neon gas laser located on a slightly modified copying machine. For the first time, this system provided good printing quality of 500 dpi. At the same time, the speed of printing was 60 pages per minute. In 1976, the first printer for mass production was developed (Bhaskar, 2013). One year later, the world’s first commercial laser printer was launched. In the first mass model, creators applied a cadmium gas laser. It is important to note that capabilities of these printers were colossal. They printed with a speed of 120 pages per minute (Bhaskar, 2013). In the same year, the first ink-jet printer was introduced. Laser printers entered mass production after a widespread introduction of semiconductor lasers in the manufacturing process. Laser printers became convenient, compact, and simple in operation. In 1985, Apple began selling the famous Macintosh computer (Bhaskar, 2013). This PC was equipped with a laser printer LaserWriter that supported the technology PostScript developed by Xerox. An Israeli company Indigo began promoting digital technology in 1995 (Bhaskar, 2013). Indigo produced equipment, can be characterized by digital offset. It includes both roll and sheet offset machines that use electrostatic inks. In the mid-90’s, Xeikon introduced digital machines based on the use of dry powder (Bhaskar, 2013). The Canadian company formed a group called the Digital Label Alliance. In fact, in 1996, the alliance after developing a new digital printing technology for several years introduced Argio (Bhaskar, 2013). It is an inkjet machine, which is mounted in a conventional flexo press (Bhaskar, 2013). Since that time, the popularity of digital printing began to grow at an incredible rate.

Nevertheless, digital printing machines became popular only over some time, since they continued to have various drawbacks. A major drawback from the perspective of potential buyers was the low speed of digital printing machines. They were not able to achieve a performance of conventional machines (Cui, 2016). However, such disadvantage as low speed was compensated by undeniable advantages. They included the lack of prepress, reduced waste, lowered printing costs due to saved spare parts, elimination of errors and need for labor (Cui, 2016). These days, the market of proposed printing equipment for digital printing is highly extensive.

Modern Digital Printing

Currently, digital printing technologies continue to develop actively. It is necessary to mention that there are several methods of digital printing. In the book Handbook of Digital Imaging, it is noted that “digital printing methods include dry electrophotography, liquid electrophotography, iconography, magnetography, continuous inject, drop on demand inject, direct thermal, thermal transfer, dye diffusion thermal transfer, digital silver halide, impact printing, and laser ablation”. Therefore, people can choose the necessary technology from the proposed diversity. According to the forecasts of analysts, trends in the development of these technologies suggest that in addition to traditional applications, such as small print runs, personalized products, and variable data printing, digital printing will conquer new markets by starting to print books, labels, packaging, catalogs, brochures, and other products. In many respects, it is explained by the fact that the print runs of printed products are constantly decreasing. At the same time, the quality of digital printing is constantly improving and nowadays, it is practically indistinguishable from the quality of offset printing.

Now, digital printing is experiencing a real boom. Even large offset printing houses purchase digital equipment for small and medium runs. Besides, the share of small print runs is constantly increasing. In addition, many commercial printers tend to open their mini printing houses due to the spectrum of digital equipment. The market of printing machines offers a huge selection of digital developments from standard duplicators with semi-professional finishing equipment to a full-featured printing house with post-processing lines, modern high-performance offset machines, and prepress (Kriss, 2015). The market of digital printing continues to develop and grow rapidly.

These days, the printing market experiences significant changes. Print runs are significantly reduced. At the same time, the requirements for design and quality of advertising products are increasing. In response to market trends, traditional printing technology is becoming better because of the ability to produce unique high quality products with an increasing number of printing sections, cutting, and varnishing. Designers develop special models that can automate the change of printing plates and the supply of paint, reducing the time needed to fix print runs. In addition, a new system of prepress that has significantly speed up the production of printing plates is introduced. Therefore, the technology of digital printing does not stand still and constantly develops.

Advantages and Disadvantages

High demand is associated with numerous advantages offered by digital printing technologies. The method of digital printing is ideal for small print runs. For example, with the number of 200 booklets, the cost of a print run made with a digital printing will always be lower than the one made with offset printing. It is connected with the fact that the print run does not weighted with the prepress stage. Another advantage consists in the fact that digital printing is an urgent type of printing, because there is no need for outputting films and making molds, as well as fitting work. Therefore, all operational printing is primarily based on digital printing. Personalization is another benefit offered by this type of printing. Frequently, digital printing is used to print personalized diplomas, letters, and postcards. O the contrary, the offset printing method does not provide one with such possibility. In the book Printed Electronics, it is mentioned, “there is no need for a master plate. The design patterns can be easily modified” (Cui, 2016, p. 114). Despite a great number of advantages, there are also certain disadvantages of digital printing. The major drawback is associated with the limit on the size of the paper. Maximum paper size for digital printing is SRA3. Another disadvantage is restricted image drum. When using digital printing method, it is frequently impossible to achieve an ideal dark palette, especially black and blue. Until now, there is an opinion that offset printing is better than digital. However, in practice, a full-color print received with the help of a modern digital machine can be distinguished from the classic one only by a qualified expert. As technology improves and prices for products decrease, the cost of digital printing also gradually decreases (Cui, 2016). To date, in case printing has to be conducted in large print runs, digital printing machines cannot compete with offset printing. Therefore, digital printing also has several drawbacks, which can be compensated by possible advantages.

Our Company

The company I want to write about is Allstatebanners.com. Digital sheet printing is a main activity of the company. In fact, it has several digital sheet-fed printing machines Xerox. For printing, toner technology is used. The image is created by applying toner to the paper or the object and fixing it under the influence of temperature. The company creates vinyl banners, banner stands, and wallpapers. Allstatebanners.com has quite a wide experience of work and, thus, it guarantees digital printing of high quality. There are many clients using the services of the company.


A famous inventor Charles Carlson obtained the first electrophotographic print in 1938. Subsequently, this invention received an original name xerography. Simultaneously with the appearance of this term, the world’s first production of photocopiers was launched. At the very beginning of their development, the Xerox Company was founded, which soon became one of the most influential corporations in the history of digital printing. Since the occurrence of the first printer in 1972, laser printers became faster, more beautiful, and more compact. Currently, digital printing technology continues to develop actively. It is connected with various advantages of digital printing.

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