We’ve written a lot about digital printing in the past with our blogs on event signs, banners, and vehicle wraps. But we’ve never really delved into what digital printing actually is! There are lots of different kinds of printing methods out there and it can be confusing to understand what printing method works best for your needs. Digital printing is a quick way to print anything created on a digital platform. The term, “Digital printing” refers to the various methods of printing a digital-based image directly to media. Just like traditional offset printing methods, digital printing relies on the precise placement of cyan, magenta, yellow, and black colors to create high-quality prints. Cyan, magenta, yellow, and black are mostly referred to as CMYK. Black is K because it stands for the “knock-out” color.
Types of Digital Printing
The two general, and most popular, types of digital printing are laser and ink-jet. In short, these printers read and process digital image files and transfer the digital image to a physical image by laying down ink or toner. Laser printers use powdered CMYK toner that is then burned onto the printing substrate which helps with the longevity and quality of the print. Ink-jet printers have CMYK print heads in a carriage that moves back and forth and sprays tiny dots of ink onto the printing substrate. Large format printing is dominated by ink-jet printers. Once the ink is laid down onto the substrate, the ink needs to be cured and off-gassed to ensure longevity.
Large Format Digital Printing Applications
Digital printing allows for a user to print any full-color, digital-based, image onto their desired substrate. Substrates can be paper, adhesive vinyl, fabric, canvas, scrim banner, wood, aluminum, coroplast, etc. Substrates all have different uses and applications. Adhesive vinyl is utilized for vehicle wraps, vehicle decals, and wall murals. Adhesive vinyl can also be applied to a rigid substrate, like aluminum, but applying several large tiles to substrate can be difficult. This is where a flatbed printer comes into the picture. Flatbed printing allows for a user to print directly to rigid substrate without having to laboriously apply adhesive vinyl to rigid sign panels.
Digital Printing Uses in Advertising
In the advertising and signage industry, digital printing is vitally important and heavily utilized. Outdoor banners, yard signs, vehicle and trailer wraps, site signs, and a ton of other sign products are created with large format digital printers. Digital printing is perfect for advertising purposes because advertising signs need to be done as fast as possible in the cheapest way possible!
Recycling Sign Scraps One of the first things we noticed about the sign industry when we opened Connecting Signs five years ago was all the scraps and waste from making signs and how to start recycling sign scraps. The trash cans were full and emptied out every day – sometimes twice a day!
Schools will usually have a mascot that represents the school in the community and at events. The mascot is displayed in lots of different ways – murals, banners, and a school flag.
The interior design of a space, whether it’s for a place that people wait, dine or just relax is so important to the efficiency of a business. There are many published studies about how the design of a space can psychologically impact a person.
When you have an inviting place that serves your customer’s subconscious mental needs, the day goes by nice and smooth. Considering how you want customers to feel while they wait or eat is the first step. Innovations in digital printing and vinyl technology have helped maximize the creative potential of a space. Along with printing whatever image you could possibly think of, vinyl comes in a variety of colors, transparencies, and textures allowing for endless options.
Frosted vinyl is less expensive and easier to install than actual etched glass and, sometimes, looks better than etched glass (which is a very difficult medium to work with). Frosted vinyl graphics can have intricate designs die-cut into the vinyl for a unique custom “look”. Frosted vinyl comes in many different finishes. Dusted crystal is a popular finish because it has glitter embedded into the vinyl.
A lobby or a reception area where guests check-in is a great opportunity to showcase your logo in a creative way. Usually these signs are referred to as: Lobby Signs. Colored acrylic is routed into any simple shape or letter and secured using a template directly to the wall. Mixing and matching colors can create an effective effect. LED lights can be installed into the sign and illuminate your brand.
Without a focal point, a space can seem empty and unfinished try interior design with signs. Bold, digitally printed graphics can be printed directly to vinyl, which is then installed onto an interior wall. You can dramatically improve blank wall with vinyl wall graphics. Printed wall graphics are always laminated to ensure longevity and durability. Environmental concerns can be address with non-PVC vinyl, ensuring peace of mind knowing that you’re not polluting the air.
Signs have been around for many, many years. Ever since people learned how to communicate and write words, they’ve been making signs. Even the first cave paintings could be considered, by some, to be the first forms of signage! Sign making started out with simple (but effective) hand painted letters and logos on flat pieces of wood or painted on the door of a work truck or directly on the side of a building.
The technology evolved and times changed. Signs needed to be easier to produce and manufacture, stand out more. With the invention of the digital plotter, sign makers could cut letters from colored vinyl stickers and apply them directly to the sign panel or vehicle. This invention changed the whole industry and made it easier for anyone to produce and manufacture signs. Then came the large-format digital printer. It moved sign-making even more into the future with its ability to print on a variety of medias. With further advancements and improvements in the technology, large-format printing has become more and more impressive.
Flatbed printers provide us with the ability to print directly to rigid substrates. Simple yard signs can be printed, single or double-sided, ten to a sheet in bright, long-lasting colors. Using a flatbed printer in this way simplifies the process of producing these signs by eliminating 2-3 steps! Post-and-panel signs or site signs for construction sites and development projects are easily produced with a flatbed printer. Lobby signs or decorative interior signs are also simplified. Printing on clear or frosted acrylic is a breeze with a flatbed printer. The ink used in this printing method is UV ink. UV ink has the advantage of not requiring laminate to protect it. UV inks are also very fade-resistant and scratch-resistant! Printing directly to substrate with a flatbed printer also allows for direct printing to a variety of substrates. A cool example of this is printing to brushed metal. The image is clearly visible, but so is the brushed metal texture behind the ink.
Here in our shop, we utilize a flatbed printer as well as our trusty large-format digital printer! We strive to provide the best products for our clients with the highest quality printed vehicle wraps and the most efficient and effective signs. What signs do you or your business need? Give us a call or request information here and let us make signs that work for you!
Our new flatbed printer has so many benefits and features that produces such amazing, high quality printing on rigid material that we had to share what we have learned.
There are many large-format digital printers out there, and each kind tries to specialize in as many different applications as they can. There are specific things that specific printers do better. Dye-sublimation printers are great when used for printing on fabric because they basically dye the fabric the colors of whatever design you’re printing. Printers that use solvent ink or latex ink are great for printing on adhesive vinyl for vehicle wraps, poster paper, wall vinyl and vinyl banners. Then, there’s UV printers. UV ink is great for outdoor applications because it resists fading from UV rays from the sun. UV ink is also very durable and resistant to scratches and folding lines.
At Connecting Signs, we utilize two of these types of printers. We use our large-format (latex ink) digital printer to print graphics for printed vehicle wraps, indoor wall murals, lobby signs, retractable banners as well as many other types of signage. The latex ink in this printer is durable and fade-resistant, but just to ensure that the prints last as long as they need to, we laminate the graphics used outdoors or on vehicle wraps. For large indoor wall murals, we divide the print into “tiles” that are seamed together with an overlap. This allows us to print miles and miles of a continuous graphic!
Our other printer is a flatbed UV printer that allows us to quickly and efficiently print on rigid substrates.We print on coroplast for yard signs, foamboard for indoor posters, composite wood or aluminum material for long-term outdoor signage like construction site signs or parking lot signs. The UV ink that is laid down on the material is cured by UV lamps inside the printer, making the ink very durable and long-lasting.
As a full-service sign shop, we produce so much more than digitally printed graphics! The digital plotter allows us to create die-cut vinyl decals and the CNC router-engraver produces an array of custom-cut letters or any shape you can think of. Give us a call, stop by or click here to request a quote!