For the reader the digital print is identical to the conventional print. The print is built from ink and paper and seen by the eye in exactly the same way. The big difference is how the print is produced.
In conventional printing the information on the printing cylinder is either on offset plates or gravure cylinders. The prints in a print run are al identical. In digital printing every copy can be different as the in formation on the printing cylinder changes from one sheet to the next. This means that the press must be programmed and controlled by a computer. The initial programming work is big and the transferring of data to the printing cylinder makes the press signifcantly slower than conventional presses. Prints can, however, be made on demand, and there is less waste in digital printing.
Digital printing is today most suitable for short runs. In this area it has also generated new printed products, which previously were too exprnsive to produce. The printing machines are also relatively small, and their productivity relatively low.
In the future, however, digital presses will develop, and their speed and productivity will make them competitive with conventional printing. Today they have taken some small jibs from sheet fed offset, but in the future their competitive ability will gradually develop to bigger products. This does nto mean that the total volume of printing on paper changes.
In the future there will also be combinations of conventional and digital printing. The conventionally printed products will be complemented by digitally printed elements.
When the media market tums digital, the technigues for printing on paper will develop too. Pre-press operations will in the future be totally filmless. The techniques for making printing cylinders will regardless of printing method utilize digital technology. This will reduce mak ready times, and make it easier to change the printed information. The use of digital technology makes it possible to produce short runs competitively. By combining different printing methods it will also be possible to make demographic print runs, where every copy is different. This development of conventional printing is necessary to keep it competitive in the future.