Five Things You THINK Digital Can’t Do

In conversations about selling digital printing, many print reps and print buyers seem to focus on what digital can’t do.

That’s (almost) understandable, if your shop doesn’t have digital gear. But even those of us who are deeply involved with digital printing often sell ourselves short. We tend to imagine roadblocks and limitations that simply don’t exist.

That’s a big mistake.

You may not have these capabilities in-house today, but think about this…If you don’t show the full range of digital capabilities to your customers, someone else will!

So here’s a quick list of five incredible things that digital print technologies can do TODAY.

These are five ways to immediately add value to your customer’s businesses with digital printing and finishing–and win more business for yourself and your customer in the process.

These are five things that you, your boss and your customers may think digital technology can’t do…and five things about which you would all be dead wrong.

• BIG – Digital can’t print big sheets.

Size is NOT a limitation. Digital presses have been getting bigger for more than a decade, and today there are incredible production presses that can print really big.

A new breed of 20×28″ digital presses is coming, and soon! But already, Xeikon presses can print sheets up to 20×120+”, with stunning quality.

And, while production presses are already big, and growing rapidly, there’s a stunning convergence happening right now.

A few shops with large-format printers are using this gear to produce oversized collateral—things like tri-fold brochures and kit covers. And they’re doing so on some very cool substrates.

Most large-format machines can do far more than first meets the eye. If you don’t believe it, take the operator who runs this gear to lunch sometime.

Do you have such a machine? Are you selling ALL of it’s capabilities?

Related Content
  • lindemrm

    Do you know of a way to digitally foil stamp, emboss or deboss? Love to find one.

  • Patrick Surrena

    I love digital and what all it can do. But I do think the bigger issue is not size of sheet, metallics, or spot color. I think the bigger issue is clients understanding how to parse their data to better segment their audience and deliver personal, relevant messages to their customers/prospects. Some don’t think they don’t have enough data. Or have it on systems that don’t talk to one another. Or think about creative uses to apply the data to provide unique messaging to them. An additional color, or metallic, or larger sheet may improve response rates. But better data usage, segmentation and relevance can increase it even more.

  • Stingray55x

    Pre-printed offset shells with an aquious coating is our biggest obsticle. We have a Kodak 2500, DigiMaster EX150, and a 125. None of such can imprint on this stock, the only machine we have is the Kodak M700 that breaks down a lot. The Nexpress’s don’t handle pre printed sheets. After about 3K in two sided sheets, the web will need to be replaced, and the blankets washed. Yet, our sales team seems to think it’s more of an equipment problem and not a coating issue. Once a month i get the deep desire to punch sales people in the face.

  • Paul Gardner

    @ Patrick – You’re right of course. At least for digital print that supports data-driven marketing.

    But there’s more to the world of digital print than direct marketing.

    A significant and growing chunk of high-value digital print is not data-driven. And much variable print is not focused on marketing.

  • BrettR

    Thanks for the article! I have to admit, I had not kept up-to-date on some of these capabilities. Michael does bring up some good points, too, that it’s up to the printer to come up with creative solutions to customer’s request. I imagine most of them truly don’t care *how* it’s done, just so long as it’s done well. But then again, it’s always nice to have new toys in the shop. Thanks again, Brett at

  • Richard Mark

    Thank for sharing interesting info!!!!
    All above points I have never heard, till that date I believe that digital printing is ready for do any thing in speedy manner.

  • Michael Kile

    Good points Bill but frankly why are we even talking about digital or offset. Our job is to come up with a solution for the clients needs and most of them really don’t care how we produce it as long as it fits those needs. We produce much of what we do digitally but we often modify design so it fits. When somebody thinks they need a small quantity of six page brochures they are often surprised and pleased to know they can produce an 8 page more cost effectively or that a "custom sized" 6 x 11 six page is a great option. Bottom line we need to quit worrying about the limitations of the equipment and just figure out how to come up with creative ways to get the customer what they need – even if sometimes we may have to help them figure out what that is. We have surprised a number of customers with how good a digital representation of gold can look when our designer gives it the right treatment. And, as Patrick says we also have that ability to come up with great targeted messaging that takes print marketing to another level. Okay time to head for Graph Expo so I can see what great new finishing options are available for digital because we do love to know how to add those bells and whistles when they make sense.

  • Charles Opu

    It is very encouraging to know that the Digital Printing Industry is growing very rapidly and is overcoming limitations that were once thought impossible to achieve. I work for a company in Papua New Guinea called Bizprint which deals in both Digital and Offset printing. I have seen the differences between the two methods but I think for our set up we can only allow for the two to compliment each other.

    Just one question, as the positive developments in digital printing take place, will the prices for jobs go up or will they come down. Or is this situation only found in third world countries.


  • Kevin Cooper

    Paul: Excellent post. Thanks for your typical thoughtful comments. As you might imagine, I would suggest another limitation that is no more: Substrates! Many digital devices from liquid ink to UV Solvents are capable of printing on all types of synthetic substrates, textured surfaced papers and adhesive stock. At one time, many papers required a surface treatment for ink to adhere to the sheet, but even that’s no longer always the case. It’s almost as the only limitation for digital printing is that of one’s imagination. Now where did I read a distilled version of that thought…

  • Oran Gilmore

    Paul, good article on the various digital solutions out there. With regard to spot UV ink jet solutions Scodix are not the only player in the game. Autobond offer multiple solutions for ink jet spot UV both in-line behind a laminator, and offline at various formats, currently 14" x 20" and 20" x 30" max formats with a higher speed 30" x 41" formats upcoming in 2013 to break into larger format digital and offset markets. Take a look at the following article: