All printed output from a computer is technically digital. However, the term refers more to printing finished pages for brochures, journals and booklets from the computer rather than using an offset printing press and commercial printer. Although digital printer systems do not compete with high-speed newspaper and magazine presses, it is expected that these "analog" monsters will become all digital in time.
Mechanical Steps Are Eliminated
Digital printing eliminates numerous mechanical steps in the conventional printing process, including making films, color proofs, manually stripping the pieces together and making plates. Instead of cutting and folding printed "signatures" to put the pages in order, software sorts them in memory and prints them in the correct sequence.
Ready for Binding
After printing, the output goes directly to next-stage equipment that can staple, 3-hole punch or bind the paper and even turn it into postmarked packages for the mailroom. Millions of invoices, documents and booklets are printed on large digital printer assembly lines every day. See offset press
and DI press
Digital Printing Plant
These digital printing presses from Oce print over 400 pages per minute. Accepting roll-fed paper, barely visible on the far right, the printed output goes to the trimmer in the middle and then the burster on the left, which separates and stacks the pages. (Image courtesy of Oce Printing Systems USA, Inc.)
The Output Factory
This digital printing complex produces more than 10,000 finished invoices per hour. They are inserted with other boiler plate into envelopes, sealed, stamped, stacked and trayed for mailing. The Delphax printer prints 850 ppm, while the Delphax color towers apply spot color. The additional equipment is from Pitney Bowes, and software from both companies manages the system. (Image courtesy of Delphax Systems.)