Digital printing refers to methods of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. It usually refers to professional printing where small-run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers.
The greatest difference between digital printing and traditional methods such as lithography, flexography, gravure, or letterpress is that there is no need to replace printing plates in digital printing, whereas in analog printing the plates are repeatedly replaced. This results in quicker turnaround time and lower cost when using digital printing, but typically a loss of some fine-image detail by most commercial digital printing processes. The most popular methods include inkjet or laser printers that deposit pigment or toner onto a wide variety of substrates including paper, photo paper, canvas, glass, metal, marble, and other substances.
In many of the processes, the ink or toner does not permeate the substrate, as does conventional ink, but forms a thin layer on the surface that may be additionally adhered to the substrate by using a fuser fluid with heat process (toner) or UV curing process (ink).