Ed #8 Digital Variables

Digital Developed

While digital and variable data printing have been around for more than a decade, until fairly recently, their use was limited. Printing speeds were relatively slow; resolution and color reproduction were often less than desired, and the software needed to merge personal data with text and images was difficult;cult to manage. If personalization was desired, four-color “shells” were often printed on an offset press and then run through a laser or ink-jet device that applied the personalized data. Large mailings, involving hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of copies are still prepared this way, to take advantage of the low cost of high-volume offset printing.

Now, however, many of the issues that slowed the adoption of digital systems have been resolved. Today’s technologies offer improved resolution and color, and a few types of equipment can even apply spot colors or a clear dry overcoat. Speeds have increased too—some systems can now print thousands of pages per hour, making them suitable for larger print runs as well as smaller ones. The addition of inline finishing capabilities such as folding and binding on some types of equipment makes the systems even more practical. Improved software simplifies production by integrating data management with common desktop publishing systems. Even the papers used in digital printing have been improved with the addition of coated stocks and heavier weights.

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