A digital printing press machine differs from a traditional press in the set-up process, proofing process and printing process. Advantages exist for digital printing as well as traditional printing.
A digital printing press is run by computer. Unlike a traditional press, in digital printing, no plates are created before printing. The images go directly from the computer to a waterless, offset printing press through direct imaging. This eliminates film, photographic plates and all associated chemicals. The colors all print at once, rather than having one plate for each color, as in traditional offset printing.
Rather than taking a picture and creating photographic plates, as traditional offset printing does, digital printing with direct imaging uses a technique called "ablation technology." A laser removes silicone and image-forming layers from a polyester plate in the printer where ink should be laid down. This exposes a polyester layer that accepts ink. No chemicals are used in this process and it is done almost instantaneously.
The benefits of digital printing presses over traditional printing include lower cost -- about 50 percent lower on average. Also, exact proofing is possible with digital, and the time required to run a job is much quicker. Digital printing also has an advantage over using a color printer because it is more cost effective for larger runs. Digital printing is quicker and easier to prepare since it doesn't require wetting the stock. It has less paper stretch and more consistent process control.