Digital Print – The low down

Top Design Tips for Digital Printing

The Small Orders printing range from A Local Printer is all printed on our Ricoh digital press which enables us to turn your orders around in a much quicker time than litho printing. But digital printing is different to litho printing and has a few of its own rules when it comes to design. Here are our Top Tips for great digital print design.

Go Big on Colour
Our digital presses can manage as much as 20% more colour range than a traditional litho press, meaning that your colours can be extra bright and vibrant to produce vivid and lively images. Use this to your advantage!

Danger - Solid Areas Ahead
Whilst digital printing is generally equal to litho printing its one downfall is printing large areas of solid colour - it just can't do it well! Digitally printing big areas of a solid single colour can result in banding, likewise with large areas of graduated tints.

If you are concerned about how the final output of your designs will appear when digitally printed please order a printed sample [in the case of notebooks and greeting cards] via the site, or speak to a friendly member of the team for all other products.

What's the Crack!
Our digital printing is done with special digital toners which are heat fused to the paper. Because the toners are 'baked' on there is a chance the toners may crack when they are folded, especially on the coated (silk) papers which by their nature have a hard surface with little 'give'. 

A Little Tolerance - Colour and Positioning
Due to the nature of digital printing there is a chance that the colour may change by a +/- 5% tolerance between your jobs. This is due to a number of factors, including the heat applied during print runs and how tired it is towards the end of the day (not unlike ourselves!) Be assured that we will always do our utmost to ensure consistency between jobs, and certainly within a commercially acceptable range.  

Likewise the application of heat during the printing process can result in the paper stretching during a longer print run, meaning that in some circumstances what lines up on the front does not line up on the back. This can affect notebook covers and greeting cards when the paper moves during printing, meaning printed detail can move by +/- 2mm.  It is especially important to be aware of this if you added a border to your artwork. Put simply, borders that bleed off the edges and borders that act as a frame can have the tendency to wander by a +/- 2mm tolerance leaving your print slightly off-kilter. Paper movement during printing is common in all digital and litho printing to the extent that there is a +/- tolerance as an industry standard.

A Sticky Issue with Labels
Occasionally sheets of labels will move a couple of mm as they go through the press which may result in your designs being +/-2mm out of position. This is due to the heat generated by the press which can stretch the sheets. All paper has the liability to move during printing and this is acknowledged as within tolerance. You can help by ensuring that your labels do not have a keyline that needs printing or that areas of text or image are positioned too close to the edge of the label. For labels that have a full bleed the results of movement on the sheet will not be as noticeable.

Talking Tints
If you want to use a tint of a solid colour our Top Tip is to keep it above 15% - anything less than this may be spotty or disappear altogether! Incorporate our Top Tip above and add some 'noise' to any tints below 40% and this will go a long way to creating a uniform tint.

Going Dotty
There is no dot gain when printing digitally and this is a really good thing! Dot gain is a by-product of litho (wet ink) printing when the ink spreads out on the paper and can make the printing less sharp and darker. Digital printing with dry toners means there is no ink to expand so images will be crisper and font sizes can be as small as 5 point and remain legible.

Back to Black
When printing large areas of black it is always best to incorporate a 'shiner' in the mix and this is the same for litho and digital printing. A shiner is an addition of Cyan, Magenta and Yellow underneath the 100% black which results in a deep, rich black. When designing for digital printing the black should still have shiners incorporated but of a lesser amount - 20% magenta, 20% yellow and 20% cyan will be fine. We do not recommend a black that equates to more than 180% toner coverage.

The Perfect Blend
Finally a Top Tip on blends or gradients which go from a colour to white. Rather than make your gradient start with a colour and end in white as a colour, set your colour as 100% chosen Pantone and graduate to 0% chosen Pantone rather than 100% chosen Pantone to 100% white. This will result in a smoother gradient as the software involved is dealing with one colour rather than two.

If in doubt don't struggle on your own! We are always happy to take a look at your design before you commit to printing to make sure there are no potential problems lying ahead!