The digital print revolution: Making label-printing faster, cheaper and greener

26th May 2015 - Fine Cut

The emergence of digital print technology has brought with it a host of benefits, both for print firms themselves as well as for their clients. 

So, just how has this digital print revolution changed the label-printing process for the better? 

Here are just a few examples: 

Speed and efficiency 

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of the digital revolution is just how fast the label-printing process is now when compared with just a few years ago. 

With the old-fashioned manual method, skilled printers would have to prepare plates for a cumbersome flexographic press, which was a time-consuming process. In comparison, setting up a digital press can be done in a relatively short space of time. Making use of the latest design software, a skilled worker can have a digital press ready to go in just a few minutes, while the proofing process is also easier and quicker when done digitally. 

In short, digital technology has made the whole label-printing process far more dynamic, with turnaround times continuing to be slashed as the technology evolves. Indeed, a print shop can now have several jobs done and ready to be delivered in the time it would have taken to set up the plates for an old flexographic machine. 

The quality of the end product 

While speed may be important, it's certainly not everything. In fact, most clients would prefer a high-quality job that takes a week, to a poor product that was turned around in just a day. 

The big benefit of digital label printing, however, is that it is not only time-efficient; it can also rival the quality of a screen printed item or one produced with a flexographic press. 

These days, digitally-produced labels not only look great, they feel great to the touch, too, helping ensure clients' products stand out in a crowded marketplace. 

One significant breakthrough brought about by the digital revolution has been the way in which digital printers can reproduce photos and graphic effects, as opposed to old techniques that were only capable of producing flat blocks of colour. 

Digital presses, including those at Fine Cut, have more hues to further enhance the gamut of colours available beyond black, cyan, magenta and yellow. 

Cost benefits 

Ditching the manual process and embracing digital also has cost benefits for both the printer and, in turn, the client. 

Again, digital means no cumbersome (and costly) plates, nor any film to produce the labels, bringing the fixed costs of printing down. Lower overheads mean better prices for the client, particularly in the long-run. 

With the manual method, if a client wanted a repeat job, or just one small part of the design changing, the plates would have to be refitted, or even made from scratch again. Thanks to the introduction of digital technology, however, the printing firm can simply reload the old designs and run off a new batch instantly, making the whole process far more time-efficient and, just as importantly, cost-effective for both parties. 

Plus, the more complex the job, the greater the savings can be. Using the old flexographic method, a print shop would have to create several solid plates in order to incorporate different design elements into a single label. Of course, now digital printers can incorporate several different designs into one single print run. Producing different sized labels also involves little more than the click of a button. Again, by simplifying the process, digital means less time and lower costs for the end customer.   

Environmental benefits of digital 

And it's not just clients who are benefiting from the ongoing digital print revolution. The environment is also a big winner as every stage of the print process becomes more efficient and less wasteful. 

Above all, the digital process makes it easy to print exact batches, reducing the likelihood of too many labels being produced and sent to landfill. Moreover, by switching to digital, printers are able to abandon old-fashioned plate materials, as well as - in some cases - energy intensive UV-curing systems and a host of other chemicals such as solvents, all ensuring that the entire process is better for the planet as well for the bottom line. 

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