Digital Printing: Beyond the Whitewash

If this is what they really think about digital print, we are doing a lousy job

“I’ve been in the design business for 25 years, but today it seems every print project under 1,000 pieces prints on a digital press,” complains Elizabeth. “It’s lower in price, but not quite the same as traditional printing, where you can get varnishes, diecuts, and the paper stocks that aren’t as limited as digital printing…”

Well, diecuts and some varnish options maybe, but limited paper choices? Really?

And Elizabeth is not the only one who believes so.

A young designer I spoke to the other day was very frank about the fact that she did not like digital printing because you could only print on white paper.

It looks like you and I are doing a lousy job.
Granted there are some print providers that prefer to print on white coated stock all day long (digital or offset, it does not matter to them). And these few give our whole industry a bad reputation.

I know that you are aware of this, but obviously we have not gotten the message across to many designers and print buyers. So let’s defend digital paper choices, shall we?

1. There is white and white

Besides white coated sheets, there are a generous variety of other white options for digital presses available.

We recently finished a piece on a white felt finished cover stock—printed digitally—and it looks amazing, even with heavy black ink coverage on some of the pages. The digital felt sheet took it in its stride.

2. Beyond white

Yes, those bad apples might have a lot of white paper in stock (every printer does), but digital sheets are available in every color under the rainbow. From Canary yellow to Epic Black (amazing for the white ink option on Indigo presses).

Sabine Lenz is the founder of, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.

Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.

Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge. 

Related Content
  • Brian Rothschild

    I’m getting past the point of paper pickiness . I like some of the new synthetic papers. Yupo for one.

  • Richard Schielke

    Mohawk has a load of colors, textures, weights and sizes of digital papers as well as synthetic and pressure sensitive digital items – check out their new digital portfolio paper selector