Walk down a typical street in any major city and you’ll see posters hanging all over the place; in shop windows, on utility poles, buses, and benches. Walk into a shopping centre or public building and you’ll be sure to find a variety of posters telling you what to buy or where to go print Melbourne. Posters have long been an eye catching way for advertisers to get their message across. But until recently, poster printing has also been somewhat expensive.
Prior to the development of digital printing technology, the most common method for poster printing was lithography. Lithography is an offset printing process which involves creating an image on a plate, then using that plate to transfer the image to a rubber blanket and then to the paper. A system of water repulsion is used to protect non-printed surfaces from absorbing ink.
Lithography provides extremely crisp and clean prints especially where photographs are used as part of the image. But the downside is cost. On a per-piece basis, Lithograph printing is cost-prohibitive for small quantities, because set-up time for the press is built into the price. Regardless of how many prints are being made, set-up costs are the same. The only way to bring the per-piece price down is to order in large quantities. It’s not uncommon for printers to have minimum quantity requirements in order to justify the time and expense of press set-up.
Advances in digital printing are revolutionising poster printing as well the entire print industry. Layouts and images are now often designed before hand by the customer and delivered to the printer on a disc. This eliminates the need for the services of the print shop’s in-house layout department, saving time and money. With digital there are no plates to prepare, no inks to blend, and no monitoring of presses to assure consistency.
Digital printing uses large-scale inkjet printers attached to a standard desktop computer. A minor amount of image manipulation might be required to match the image to the printer’s format, but once that’s done it only takes a mouse click and you’re off and printing. And modern fade-resistant inks mean a final product which rivals lithography in overall quality.
Additionally, the efficiency and speed of digital printing today result in a lower cost per piece for smaller jobs. It virtually guarantees a consistent product throughout the run and also allows further runs be produced with no additional set-up.