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Over the past decade, digital printing has become an increasingly popular solution for both consumers and larger businesses. But is digital printing sustainable? Let’s take a look at an issue that’s becoming increasingly important to a number of people and companies, and the positive role that digital printing solutions can play.
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Is Digital Printing Sustainable?
Digital printing has multiple benefits over traditional methods of printing. It’s suitable for shorter runs, as you don’t need to print a certain number of copies in order to make an appropriate return on the initial plate engraving process. You can also play around with the colours more easily, doing small test pieces before committing bigger print runs. But is digital printing more sustainable than more traditional methods? We think so.
What Makes Digital Printing Sustainable?
Digital printing is often far more sustainable than its traditional counterpart, lithographic printing, for a number of reasons:
Eliminates the wastage of plates or rollers
Lithographic printing, the old-school, traditional method of printing, has several elements that are wasted during the process. The plates onto which the prints are engraved are one. The rollers that transfer that image onto a different medium another.
Digital printing on the other hand has no comparable waste products – it sprays ink onto media directly using inkjets. Digital printing has fewer wasted by-products as a result, making it a more sustainable solution.
Lower water consumption
In some industries, such as textiles, digital printing also results in far less wasted water. One study found that in 2018, digital textile printing saved around 40 billion litres of water globally, as digital printing uses around 10% of the water used in traditional screen printing processes. As water becomes an increasingly valuable and scarce resource, savings like these will become more and more important.
More Sustainable inks
Traditional printing processes often involve noxious solvent-based inks that can have an incredibly harmful effect on the environment. Increasingly, the inks used in digital printers are polymer-based inks that contain no hazardous air pollutants (HAPs). These newer inks are often produced via less energy-intensive processes, making them a more environmentally sustainable solution.
Closing thoughts – How sustainable is print on demand?
With traditional printing processes, it’s often necessary to do a ‘run’ of prints of a set number, so that the printing press can then be used for the next project.
With digital printers, run sizes can be far more flexible. No plates need to be changed between prints. Meaning that you can print on demand as and when you need extra prints, simply by sending the digital file to the printer.
This means that you’re less likely to print unnecessarily large runs just because you need to make sure you print enough copies the first time around. This increased flexibility also allows professional printing services, such as Plan Printing 24, to offer their services to a diverse range of clients, including smaller consumers rather than just massive industrial customers who need thousands of copies.