Digital printing is one of several printing techniques available for
decorating your promotional items. It goes by many other names including four
color process, full color process, and CMYK printing. No matter what you call
it, digital printing will have your promo products looking ready for
distribution. Discover exactly how it works in this exhilarating lesson!
As you might guess, digital printing involves the use of a digital image. Have
you ever printed out a color photograph or document on an inkjet printer at home
or in the office? We’re assuming since it’s many years beyond 1995, you have.
Digital printing for promotional products is very similar, with only a few
Yes, Size Matters.
First, because most products can’t be stacked in a tray the way an enormous ream
of office paper can, custom frames have to be built to hold the products while
they run through the printer. When they pass through, these products resemble
cars passing through an automated car wash…except only inkjets come anywhere
near the products, and there are no spinny-brushes anywhere in sight.
Another big difference? The size of the operation. Your home inkjet printer is
probably just the right size to sit on top of a desk or a shelf; the printer at
work might be a little bit bigger. That’s great for printing off all of those
tax forms or recipes you found on Pinterest, but customizing promotional
products takes some more technological muscle. This is not only because of the
size of the products, but because of most order sizes—hundreds of products at a
time! A digital product printer is fairly big, and has the capacity to dry the
ink on the items right after it’s applied, too, so the process is quick and
How Many Colors?
You might wonder how a process like this can be called “full color printing” and
“four color printing” at the same time. After all, with digital printing, any
color you can incorporate into your design on a computer can be printed on your
product. So where does this “four color” business come from? Well, it’s pretty
simple. A while ago, printers discovered that they can replicate almost any
color using four colors of ink: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black (which is the
“k” in CMYK, because we like to make things mysterious). Hence, four color
But being able to make any color from four basic building blocks isn’t the only
advantage of digital printing. It’s also faster. Unlike with a process like
screen printing, where each color is added to the product as a separate layer,
all of the colors in digital printing are printed at the same time. This saves
time, and in a lot of cases, save the customer money, too. And we all like that,
Another form of digital printing is called “digital sublimation printing.” This
method allows full color images to be printed on all kinds of surfaces, even
those that might not work well with an inkjet-style printer. Unlike the
traditional four color process, digital sublimation involves printing a design
onto transfer paper. Special machines use a combination of heat and pressure to
press the paper onto an item’s specially treated surface and transfer the
design. Voilà! That digital photo of your family now can grace coffee mugs for
years to come.
Digital printing takes amazing developments in computer technology and uses them
to paint your brand in the best light…or print it in the best light, as the
case may be. Thanks to the use of large-scale printers, virtually any image
created with computer software can be transferred onto the surface of a
promotional product. Digital printing is an excellent way to color your