In the best print companies, there are a number of techniques which can be used for digital printing. Methods include electrophotography (using dry and liquid toner), laser imaging on photographic paper, thermal transfer (dye sublimation transfer and mass transfer) and most commonly, inkjet printing.
Electrophotography digital printing uses the application of liquid or dry toner onto photoreceptive surfaces, upon which a charge is produced from a laser or similar light source. This transfers the toner either directly to paper or to paper through a blanket sheet, which is then fused to create the intended image.
The best quality images are produced using liquid toner, due to the extremely fine particles produced, to achieve photo-like quality products. With a high print speed and consistent results, it is the technique which many larger scale and fast moving companies employ to really deliver effective marketing and advertising.
Laser imaging, also known as digital photo printing, uses lasers or other light forms to produce photo-realistic images on silver-halide photographic paper. It is one of the most popular techniques for wide-format photo production and is also increasingly used for digital-photo finishing. Able to deliver true colours, it acts as a very good advertising medium when stunning impact is required.
Thermal transfer digital printing applies heat, using diffusion or sublimation, to a thin carrier film, transferring dye molecules or coloured coating to a coated receiver sheet. The heat is typically emitted from a computer controlled laser array, though it can also use technology similar to that found in thermal fax machines. This method is very effective at producing high quality colour prints.
The most popular digital printing method in use today is inkjet, which uses small drops of ink produced by a computer controlled actuator. There are three common applications of inkjet technology; Piezo, Continuous-Flow and Thermal, each of which relates to different actuator set-ups, delivering unique results. Each application tends to combine dye-based or pigmented aqueous inks.
The droplets released by the nozzles hit the surface to be printed on, which is typically paper, and produce minute dots. The image creation is controlled to form precise patterns which can be modified by professional print companies through the amending of droplet size, actuator speed, surface types. This allows for exceedingly high quality finishes to be achieved.
Obtaining the best results with digital printing, no matter what technique is used, requires a professional approach, both in regards to design and execution. Some of the most effective marketing campaigns and print runs tend to use a combination of methods, depending on the final ambition. This is where professional consultation can really help to save money and generate positive reactions.