It’s funny to think about the early days of digital printing, when the most exciting thing it had to offer was variable data. When digital printing first arrived on the print scene it provided a great solution to a big problem – short runs and limited budgets. But in the eyes of creatives, digital printing also meant they had to sacrifice quality and all the fun print techniques they loved about printing offset. Thankfully, short runs no longer spell doom for the creativity and impact of your printed piece. Here are a few digital printing techniques I love…


Dimensional Printing

By using dimensional clear dry ink, digital presses (ex. NexPress, Xerox® Color Press) have the ability to create a transparent, raised layer on top of the sheet. This technique allows creatives to design for digital the way they would if they were using a spot UV or varnish on an offset printed piece. Dimensional printing gives you the ability to create an emboss like effect by adjusting the number of layers of the clear toner, you can control and create multi-dimensional effects.


Digital Metallic InksGold Ink

I first saw this technology introduced when Kodak’s NexPress launched gold dry ink. More recently the Xerox® Color Press 800i/1000i introduced specialty metallic dry ink in gold and silver, using true Pantone metallic gold/silver inks.


In Domtar’s Make Your Mark on Cougar® piece, there is a feature that uses the Xerox® metallic dry ink in gold—it blew me away. It looks good, really good. And it only requires one click to get shimmery, beautiful results. I think it has to do with the fact that the Xerox® metallic dry ink contains actual gold/silver flecks.


White Ink

Technically it’s toner, but some digital presses (ex. HP Indigo) offer the ability to print using white ink. We’ve used the technique on some holiday cards we produced featuring illustrations on dark navy and kraft colored papers. Like many designers we love the contrast of the white ink on darker colors but know when using this technique for offset printing, it often requires multiple passes and can hike up the budget. Realistically, even with digital white ink you probably want at least 2 passes to give you the pop you’re looking for, but it is so much more cost effective to do this with digital printing than offset. Incidentally, we did 3 clicks of white ink on the navy stock and 5 on the kraft stock, and we still stayed within budget. Oh, and the results were awesome.


Digital white ink also makes images pop off darker papers when used as the first layer underneath four-color images. While this is a common practice for offset printing the results when printed digitally are even more vivid.


While the different digital printing techniques can vary widely depending on the equipment, the ones mentioned above are pretty readily available in every market. Some other digital printing techniques we’ve seen involve using the paper or substrate to achieve interesting, see-thru results, and can be achieved on many types of digital presses.


And paper plays an important part when it comes layout and design. For example, no longer are we constrained to the “traditional” 12” x 18” or 13” x 19” sheets. Digital printing papers are being introduced in larger sizes in some of our favorite grades. Did you know Cougar has a digital sheet that’s 20.75” x 29.5”? That means you can fit two 11” x 17” pages, or four 8.5” x 11” pages, or nine 6” x 9” pages or 70 standard business cards on a single sheet!


The thing about digital printing is that the techniques and capabilities of it keep expanding. As OEM’s challenge each other and the market with new innovations, it’s the creatives and marketers that reap the rewards.


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To learn more about the Cougar paper product line, visit the Cougar Product Information page. To learn more about how printing on Cougar can elevate your brand, order your complimentary copy of Make Your Mark on Cougar today!

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