Believe it or not, the days of using printing plates are not over. Offset printing methods may be old fashioned, but currently, they still provide less expensive products in some large printing orders.
However, digital printing may soon overtake offset printing for big projects, as it has for smaller projects. Offset printing requires several steps from creating the initial image to actually printing it onto paper. This tediousness has driven the continued efforts to make digital printing somehow less expensive.
Digital printing is printing that goes directly from a digital based image to the finished product. This is accomplished through desktop publishing, laser printing or inkjet printing. It is immediate, making the savings in time and effort the most tangible benefit.
In order to use less ink, and even make less impact on the environment, higher quality inks and laser etching are now used by many companies. The best printing can print an image without soaking wastefully into the page, instead just creating a light coat of ink, sealed with a heat or UV curing process.
Digital printing has changed art and photo production as well. Now, lightfast pigment-based inks are used to make the artwork or photographs last. Continual improvements are being made to the level of resolution in scanning original artwork and to the process of managing these large files in such programs as Adobe Photoshop. The quality of the finished product will continue to improve as digital printing takes almost an exclusive hold on the printing market.