Communications Design Print

Digital Printing: A Brief History

Digital Printing: a brief history

It can be employed in many different environments, whether that ‘s a home printing set up or industrial level jobs where high volume inkjet, LED or laser printers are being used. We are all so used to digital printing these days that we don ‘t often stop and think about where this essential service comes from. This brief history shows just how quickly it ‘s become a vital part of our lives.


Let ‘s start with the history of printing as a whole


The traditional printing industry dates back to the 1400s – that was when the first printing press was thought to have been made and used. The first books to be properly printed were bibles and the process was fairly basic. However, in the coming years the printing industry started to evolve significantly with innovation such as lithography eventually arriving in the late 1700s. However, it wasn ‘t until the 20th century that the potential really started to emerge.


Early digital printing innovation


Inkjet printing arrived on the scene in 1951 and this was the moment when digital printing really started to be a potential reality. In 1963 the Pantone Colour Matching System was devised and a few years later in 1968 dot matrix printing was becoming the norm. However, it wasn ‘t until 1989 that the first digital print was released – on watercolour paper. At this point digital printing was niche technology available to very few people and it wouldn ‘t be until the early 1990s that we ‘d see the first digital colour printing press. One Benny Landa had a pretty big impact on the way that the printing industry evolved, as it was he who discovered that the ink that was being used in the world ‘s fastest photocopier that he had developed could also be used for printers. This was ElectroInk, which used small colour particles suspended in oil that could be attracted or repelled by a voltage differential. The ink then formed a smooth plastic layer on top of the paper.


Digital printing as we know and love it today


By 2016, digital printing was responsible for 18% of all printing and had moved way beyond commercial printing into other areas, such as publishing and packaging. Today, it dominates but there is still plenty of room for improvement. This is an industry that is constantly driven by innovation and technology, after all. There is no doubt that in the coming years we will see plenty of change in the components of digital printing, from colour range to accuracy and resolution of ink placement. Green and sustainable considerations are also driving innovation, as well as the way that digital printing can be used for emerging fields like nanotechnology and biometrics.

As this brief history of digital printing shows it ‘s a technology that has developed quickly – but one that is likely to be with us for the future, in constantly evolving forms.

We offer digital printing as a service which allows for a wide variety of different formats, materials and applications. If you’d like more information, please click here.

CDP are a printing company offering comprehensive print management services for businesses to help boost business efficiencies, based in Liverpool and London. Contact us today!


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