How digital printing is changing the future of communications

We invite you today to go through our beginner’s guide to the digitally printed creative communications wonderland and discover how digital printing helps the advertising campaigns!
Western capitals are a vision of horror for any advertising executive. A vast array of analogue and digital channels try to capture each individual’s attention, causing too many campaigns to fade into the background.
What if you could create a project that makes people stop, smile, consider, even take a picture to share on social media? Digital printing can help to establish fresh, unique communication channels for indoor and outdoor advertising as well as for simple decoration.
Take wallpapers: Printed with HP latex technology, the luxury of individualized designs in shop windows, office or store walls becomes affordable even for neighborhood shops. But the technology does not stop here. Inkjet printers are decorating floors, tiles, table tops and home textiles, resulting in beautiful, one-of-a-kind spaces at event or office spaces, malls or hospitality areas.
With super wide format inkjet technology that can seamlessly print up to five meters wide, the opportunities to make a splash are even more magnificent. One of the most famous wide format digital printing projects ever, in 1999 saw the Bayer AG skyscraper at Leverkusen in Germany to turn into a huge package of aspirins.
Since then more skyscrapers, bridges and construction sites than anyone can count have been wrapped in mesh or banner materials that have been printed using EFI or HP roll-to-roll superwide format printing devices.
A particularly spectacular project once even made Munich’s famous Bavaria statue disappear when the statue was covered up for restoration. Under a Trompe-l’œil digitally printed cover, it was claimed that Bavaria had “Gone on holiday after winning the lottery”.
But you don’t have to go super-big prints to make an impact. Why not take gifts to the next level? UV or sublimation ink printing on cups, plates, key rings, even laptops or snowboards is not a technical problem anymore.
Thinking outside the box

A digital printing project can only be as effective as the creative ideas behind it. One should think this goes without saying, but it is very common to see wide format campaigns that don’t really exploit the unique opportunities digital printing can offer to designers.
When creating an XXL poster, don’t just scale up a magazine ad, but do take advantage of printing size options and technology. Using opaque white ink, EFI inkjet printers, for example, are able to produce posters that look different in daytime front-lit mode than back-lit and at night.
It’s a golden rule that when it comes to single items or smaller run-length production, four color digital printing on any substrate is more cost effective than any analogue printing technology. This applies even more, if you take into account the whole process, including logistics, consumables, energy and water consumption, and don’t just focus on the cost per piece evaluation.
Depending on technology and the printer used, even medium-sized printing projects with over 1,000 copies might be cheaper printed digitally.
For a perfect digitally printed campaign, designers and brand owners alike should strive to abandon their old analogue printing habits and start thinking in a new, digital way. It’s not so different from the mechanics of online advertising.

fter all, digital printing goes well with digital signage and online channels. Wide format posters make a beautiful, impressive and energy efficient backdrop or light-box companion to big screens, indoor and outdoor.
QR codes, Bluetooth beacons and Augmented Reality (AR) applications added to a digitally printed poster, display or packaging item can be used to initiate interaction with smartphone users and even establish the feedback channel so many brand owners are dreaming of.
With online shopping becoming more and more common, personalised or interactive packaging will be one of the very few haptic channels left to target many consumer demographics.
This year major digital printer manufacturers have introduced new, fast inkjet printing machines such as the EFI Nozomi C18000 or the HP PageWide C500 Press for the corrugated packaging market. Forward-thinking brand owners will start to explore new packaging concepts, creating a digital packaging market some experts estimate as big as €400 million in the next few years.
Choosing the right materials
Modern inkjet printing technology can print onto almost any surface: paper, a wide variety of banners, foils and self-adhesives, textiles, Perspex, glass, and even really fancy substrates like metal sheets and wooden planks.

Many substrates for outdoor applications are PVC-based. Designers aiming for sustainable campaigns might want to look into more planet-friendly options like textile or non-PVC alternatives. Even corrugated boards often are a viable solution for short-term outdoor applications.
But there are no established recycling processes for unusual substrates like printed metal or wood. Also, laminated digital prints often end up in the landfill, because composite materials are almost impossible to recycle.
To ensure a small CO2 footprint, digital print customers and their designers should plan the printed product’s lifecycle, just as they would do with any analogue printing project.
Get your geek out

As with any previously unfamiliar technology, a bit of technical background will help to avoid the most common errors. But rejoice! Wide format print service providers have successfully wrestled truckloads of creative campaigns since the technology became widely available at the turn of the millennium.
Very often, designers not very used to working with large billboards, underestimate the power of the viewing distance. For a perfect superwide format poster, printing resolution is typically around 75 dpi, because they are perceived from far away.
At a long distance, it is impossible to see very many very small details, so printing XXL applications at very low resolutions makes practical common sense. It also saves ink.
Consider that a native Photoshop file for a 10 x 15 metre poster with 300 ppi resolution will be, depending on colour depth, between 59 and 234 GB of file size. That’s quite a chunk and still not very easily computed in most IT environments.
Smaller items examined from just some 30 cm away, may still require a printing resolution of up to 2,400 dpi. Other digital printing details can puzzle print designers whose expertise is primarily in commercial or screen printing.
For instance, a wide format printing machine may use up to twelve process colors, resulting in a much wider gamut than is possible with most analogue printing technologies. Dot placement may also be different from a conventional printing raster.
Rely on to your local wide format print service provider
You want the best possible printing quality as well as color consistency between substrates and printing technologies for your Wild Format digital printing projects. Access to expertise in color management is highly recommended to support designers as well as the printing house.
In wide format digital printing, the old saying about buying too cheap is buying twice remains as true as in any other field of business. So don’t be tempted to save that extra buck on a creative Wild Format project by choosing a “no service” printing only option. To make a real impact, you are going to need all the expertise you can get – but it’s success will so be worth it!


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