Back to blog

What is digital printing?

Share This:

We know this can seem like a complicated subject; however, we are going to go through the digital printing process so that you can learn how your custom stickers and labels are created. We will talk about our HP Indigo press, the latest technology that is used to create these presses to the sustainable printing technology that allows these machines to be CO2 Neutral. Keep reading to be ultimately fascinated but just how cool these HP Indigo presses can be.

But how does the HP Indigo press differ from a traditional printer?

Think about your stuff as like a copier, how you would send a file from your computer straight to a printer similar to what you have at home. Well, it’s kind of the same thing we have here but on a larger scale. These printers are called Indigos. The HP Indigo press prints off images extremely fast and it does so on a material that goes through a machine. These Printers are a special type of printing process that is put together all through electricity. The file comes from the computer and the computer sends it to our printers we have and then starts printing off the images as we tell it to print.

One cool thing about these printers is that they can go from one job to the next, to the next without stopping. We just set up the files and after it’s on there we can keep printing every job from one job to the next and this is the one really fascinating thing about this machine unlike the old traditional style of printing that was done, they would have to sit there and man up a job, it would take hours and a lot of materials to do these things. Now when it’s time to get a job done on our HP Indigo press it gets a job done really quickly so as a result, we are able to get your jobs out even faster than before we had these machines.

Another thing that is really nice about these HP Indigo machines is that the waste is very minimal, we have saved a ton of time and material by going to this style of printing method. So, with everything mentioned, to say we are excited would be an understatement.

What is digital printing?

Inside the HP Indigo Press

Inside the HP Indigo press we have an engine and what happens is at the top of the inside of the machine we have a laser writing heading where it goes in an image down onto a drum that goes around the center, from the drum its images in a positive charge and whatever’s positive the ink will stick to. And whatever’s negative will wash back down into the tanks.

For instance, we can print up to seven different colors being yellow, magenta, cyan, and black but then above we have some other colors, we are able to use some of the other colors like orange and violet if you have a very specific color, you’re trying to hit we can use those colors in here to create a closer look to a Pantone that you might give us. And then when we use silver or clear material, we use white ink on there.

What happens is it lays everything down onto the drum and an electrical charge happens where it takes it then jumps it down to the substrate that runs through the machine down below. It does this really fast so everything gets held into place. If you think about holding an electrical line and your hand grips to where to can’t move it, it’s kind of the same theoretical process that happens where the ink gets held into place and then when it gets put onto paper it holds the registration perfectly so every single label or sticker that gets printed off these machines gets printed with perfect registration.

There is no movement, there is no fuzzy look to it and whatever art file you send us is exactly how it’s going to print. This is why we talk about art files and when you send us a file that has pixelations on it this will print it out as a pixelation, it shows it exactly how you have it, this is why when we ask for art files like Adobe pdf or Illustrator files because it shows us exactly what you want and how it needs to look.

Paving the way for sustainable printing technology

One other thing about this machine is that it is really cool that HP does is they manufacture these machines as carbon neutral. There are a whole lot of things that go into being carbon neutral. Being part of that whole community is something that we think is really great and we really want to be a part of. We think it is a really forward-thinking process for the whole printing industry and the packaging industry.

Color Calibrations and LAB values.

Another thing we could talk about is color calibration and how that actually works. The machines calibrate the substrates that we print on. It goes through and scans the tiles. As it goes back and forth, it tells it how close it is to the master file that we gave it.

So, when you give us a color file or color build of something then we can actually represent the color that you are looking for off of your artwork that you give us. We go through this iteration of color calibration every single job run. We do this over and over again to make sure that our press is at the highest calibration it can be. Homeostasis would be another way to describe that.

The equipment used to do the color calibration is called the spectrophotometer and it reads the lab value. We have a video up on our YouTube channel that talks about the lab as well as color calibration. It discusses how we calibrate and what that actually means so we highly recommend you check out that video about color calibration.

HP Indigo Printing Jobs

Furthermore, let’s talk about a job example, let’s say we have a job with seven or eight different copies. We are able to actually gain jobs up onto the same exact web at the same time. What is cool is after a job is finished up then another one comes straight through saving time as well as material. We can sometimes have four different copies printing at the exact same time. That’s part of why digital printing is so fascinating because it gives us the ability to do things like that and really makes it an efficient process in printing allowing us to save as much material as we possibly can.