Digital Printing has come along way since its conception. It has its advantages and disadvantages compared to offset printing but still holds its own in the Printing Market. Here are some valuable tips when designing your next project specifically for digital presses.

Designing with digital printing in mind

Short runs! Design Uniquely

Because the cost of digital printing is cheaper than offset, keep this fact in mind; make your design unique, and make it personal. Business cards can be catered to the individual because their personality can really become a major influence to the design. Making it different than every other card can bring out a unique personal touch.

Disc Pro Graphics specializes in taking unique printing with high enthusiasm. We have special ways to support trying new techniques and ideas that make your latest designs come to life and jump right off the paper. Offset printing would make these types of unique, personal touches more expensive and difficult than if they are attempted on a digital press.

Can I use Pantone colors in my digital design?

Digital Presses convert files to C,M,Y,K values the majority of the time. With the exception of a very few there are limited exact Pantone color support. At Disc Pro Graphics we utilize special 5th stations that allow us to achieve much closer color matches than could be done with the traditional digital C,M,Y,K, color range. We encourage our customers to utilize this support for as much as we possibly can. If you have a continually difficult Pantone that is a struggle for most digital presses we would love to let you know what we can do to try and achieve this for you.

Special Digital Ink Colors

At Disc Pro Graphics, our Digital press provides you with colors that you won’t find available everywhere.

Our NexPress has a special 5th unit station that is able to find real uses that sets your Designs apart from the rest.

Light Black – at 100% Black this is equivalent to 40% Black, making skin tones and grey colors much more accessible. This can be used by any normal C,M,Y,K document or as a spot color.

Red Pantone – This red ink is able to support the standard C,M,Y,K color range and push its reach further into color gamma ranges that are just impossible to match without it.

Gold Metallic ink – Making a shine on any paper, this ink does not need a white ink to support its appearance on even the darkest substrates. Bringing a true gold metallic into your design that is different than any C,M,Y,K combination.

White Ink – This provides the designer with the ability to print on dark substrates making monotone images and text possible. Also provides the ability to put vivid colors on top of dark substrates with a single layer of white beneath it.

Clear Ink – Offset Printing has UV Inks, layering clear over digital designs can bring a whole new world of possibilities including added gloss and protection to your printed design.

Dimensional Ink – Sitting on top of your paper is added texture that is able to make a sure impression of your design. It can be designed to support the image beneath or completely separate adding depth independant of your design below.

Designing with these in mind makes sure that your visually stunning prints do not quickly become forgotten.

Small Type

Digital type smaller than 5 pt. is the smallest that should be designed for digital presses for dark type on white backgrounds. Anything smaller and it becomes ineligible. For small type we recommend capitalizing every letter, and dark colors. For thin fonts its not recommended to go lower than 7 pt. and make sure to request a hard proof, not just a pdf in this case.

Large solid areas of color

Digital Presses have a struggle of keeping consistent color across larger areas of paper. This problem is widely known across the digital print industry.

If you have large areas of color, staying away from C,M,Y,K values that are less than 15% in the color build, will mitigate this as much as possible. Another creative way to avoid large areas of solid colors is to apply filters in Photoshop that introduce a small amount of noise. This will intentionally break up the need for a consistent color through the very large area. Breaking up these areas with photos or other graphics actually works wonders in getting a beautifully printed digital piece of artwork. And last but not least you can underlay images and photos within the blocks of color to add depth to your design.

Designing Gray

Gray colors on most digital presses quickly shifts towards warm or cool grey depending on the highest value of Cyan, Magenta, or Yellow, ICC profile and color calibration. Knowing this can help you steer clear of designs that could make your piece difficult to print and less satisfying. Disc Pro Graphics uses a special light black 5th station in our NexPress. At 100% light black is exactly 40% black which helps smooth skin tones and sets consistent gray colors throughout the design.

You can design with this in mind. If you choose to do so using light black as a digital spot color in your artwork.

4 different gray colors that have less than a 4% change in the C,M,Y,K values

How large can design a digital print

Digital presses tend to run a standard size sheet of paper around 19 inches by 13 inches. With our NexPress Digital Press we are able to Print sheets up to 40 inches long by 14 inches this gives your digital design less limitations when it is necessary that your design push those large sheet boundaries. Remember this is the available sheet size of paper that can be used and is not the printable area. This printable area is not much smaller though. Disc Pro is able to lay down digital ink to the size of 39.5 inches by 13.5 inches. We are very familiar with large digital printing projects such as these sizes.

Dry Toner over Folded Paper

If your design has folds, and you design printed artwork to stretch across them, be careful with the ink that is directly covering the fold. Be sure to know that toner is fused to the surface of the paper, not absorbed like offset ink. This makes the ink more susceptible to cracking at these folds. An experienced print shop like Disc Pro Graphics will make sure your folds are scored. This will greatly lessen the effects of wear from folding during the life-span of your printed artwork.

Variable Data in your artwork

Knowing that you will be using this in step with a variable data list gives you some challenges when designing with digital printing in mind. You will want to make room for your longest placed text within the artwork and make sure it places properly. Doing so will allow you to change any needed layout before sending it to Disc Pro Graphics for a final proof.

The Digital Paper options.

Offset printing offers a much larger array of paper options compared to digital presses. By making sure to start with digital paper in mind there are still many substrates that are available from the design initiation. Check with Disc Pro Graphics to ensure you have a digital press approved paper to make your printing go as smooth as possible.

Textured and colored paper can do lots to support the design aspect of your printing files. There are many to choose from that could enhance your color choices and limit the use of harder colors for digital presses to achieve. And don’t forget that even within the same job you can still utilize multiple types of digital paper.

Digital Papers from Lindenmeyr Munroe

Digital Papers from Clampitt

Get a hard Proof

After all is said and done, lots of effort was put into laying out every graphic and over the top or subtle detail, how does this translate to paper? Assuming your computer screen gives you an accurate representation is understandable, but that isn’t always the case. A hard proof will show you whether your color is converting over on the digital press’ limited C,M,Y,K color range, and you can see what the press is capable of.

This will ensure before you move forward printing that your intended design comes out satisfying. A pdf proof isn’t always enough for all of your digital print jobs. At Disc Pro it is standard for every job that every job printing digitally is given a hard proof for approval. This requirement for us ensures that our customers are served with the most amount of respect for their hard work.

Digital design conclusion

Disc Pro Graphics has robust digital experience for specialty designed prints. We hope this has been helpful guide in aiding you to make the most out of designing your next digital press projects to be printed. Make sure and check out our other article on tips for Digital files.

Disc Pro Graphics is proud of our digital-on-demand team who have been partnered with by Kodak for printing amazing things.