Modern web technology has revolutionized the graphic design and printing industries, and it has created a number of improvements for both designer workflow and end product quality. Book covers, business cards, advertising flyers and postcards are examples of products a professional printer creates for clients on a regular basis. Web printing involves the use of design software rather than the metal plates, pressing machines and ink applications that come with traditional printing methods. Resulting advantages include improved cost-effectiveness, faster turnaround times, a simpler editing process and a less steep learning curve for designers who work with web printing techniques. The movement to web-based printing also allows for easier collaboration and is better for the environment.
The Cost-Effectiveness of Web Printing
Preparing digital files for printing does not come with the same intermediate steps as traditional press printing. There is no need for expensive equipment such as printing plates, ink rollers or add-on mechanisms for creating graphics. The same effects can be accomplished in digital web printing with the use of a large format laser or inkjet printer. Instead of rolling, pressing and turning each sheet on a printing plate and waiting for the ink to set, the designer simply sends the finished digital files to the printer. As a result, the average web print project costs noticeably less per page than it would with a traditional printing press.
The ability to print on demand is another advantage of web printing. Small scale jobs of only a few copies can be accomplished quickly and without wasted ink or paper. The same often does not hold true for traditional offset printing. Due to the lower costs of project completion, online printing companies are able to pass these savings on to their clientele.
Improved Print Turnaround and Easier Editing
Traditional printing takes more time on average than web printing. Individual paper sheets and their associated printing plates need to be prepared, scaled and adjusted for each different job. Each of these print projects also carries a certain amount of waiting time for the sheets to fully process, which adds up to more paid man-hours. Web printing is accomplished in at least half the time for most print orders, and even mistakes are much less painstaking to correct with digital files.
Preparing digital graphic design projects involves working with at least one software program such as Adobe InDesign, Illustrator or Photoshop. If a page’s font needs to be changed or a graphic needs to be moved to a different spot, a designer can complete these edits with only a few simple mouse clicks. The same holds true for more complex project changes, such as adding more colors, rearranging the layout or altering the overall size of the final printed pages. Making the same edits with traditional printing is a more time-consuming and expensive process with a bigger margin for error.
Learning Web Printing is Simpler
Although mastering techniques with graphic design software takes plenty of consistent practice, becoming a web printing technician is still an easier process in a few specific ways. Traditional printing involves mastering a larger range of skills, such as typesetting, die casting, machine operation, plate prepping, large format paper cutting and binding finished pages of books or magazines. In addition to these tasks, a novice print technician also needs to keep refining his or her skills at creating pleasing layouts with text and graphics. Bypassing some of the traditional printing processes allows a web-based print technician to focus on creating the best quality digital artwork with the most efficient workflow.
Web Printing and Collaboration
Internet technology has brought many more collaboration opportunities for printing professionals and graphic designers. Web print project teams no longer need to work in the same physical office location. They can now work in various geographic locations and quickly send digital artwork-in-progress to one another through web-based portals. Some of the most popular collaboration tools allow designers to send, edit and save different image file formats before the finished pages are ready for printing. Web collaboration can increase the quality and visual appeal of printed materials because designers with more diverse ideas and strengths are able to work together without the barrier of geography.
A final advantage is that web printing is friendlier towards the environment. It does not come with the same chemical emissions as traditional printing processes. Digital technology also saves a significant amount of paper once needed for proofs and other preliminary hard copy drafts of a print job. Instead, only the final product is rendered on paper with a professional inkjet or laser printer.
The advantages of web printing are numerous, and these methods promise to become even more streamlined as technology keeps improving. Design software is projected to become even more intuitive for professionals in this industry, and printing workflows will subsequently become even more efficient.