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Subject:Re: Digital Printing From:Mary Perchanok <perchanok -dot- bailey -at- SYMPATICO -dot- CA> Date:Tue, 16 Dec 1997 11:15:53 -0400
I designed a number of non-technical full-color books last year that
were reproduced as color laser output. If this is what you mean by
digital, read on.
The factors in choosing this route are quality and the size of your
Choice of stock is limited.
Print quality is the same as color copying - don't expect the quality of
good four-color process printing. Color correction is trickier. If
you've got photos of people you may have difficulty getting a pleasant
result. I could get away with having colour casts because I was working
with illustration rather than photographic images.
The apprearance of the ink on the page is different because the ink is
fused on the surface.
I also found that light screens (under 20%) don't print well. Good
coverage with solid colours can also be a problem.
As for color proofs, demand to see one. The proof is just the first
Another quality issue has to do with the relative skill required to run
a laser output machine versus a press. Some companies will do very good
work, others hire staff to run the their machines who are oblivious to
print quality considerations.
Because there are no films, plates and presses involved, there are no
costs for setup and cleanup. You will pay extra for the file RIP or for
each page of the first output, but it's not close to what you would pay
for offset. (Last year I was paying 10.00 - 15.00 per page for the
first output on 11x14 paper. After the first copy, the price falls to
the same price as colour xerox.) This allowed me to producer limited
numbers of full colour publications (10 or 20 20-page books at a time).
If you are printing hundreds or thousands of copies, offset will
probably be more economical. If you speak to a rep from a company that
offers both offset and digital printing, they can tell you when one
method will be more economical than the other.
I also tried a digital printing system called Indigo (I believe it's
used as a proofing system by some of the offset companies.) The results
did look a little more like conventional four-color process than the
Xeros/Cannon guys, but there was a definite grey cast that has to do
with the chemical makeup of the inks. It didn't have that xeroxy halo
effect or the almost thermographic feel, though.