Easy Guide to How Digital Printing Works

As “CatPrint Short Run Digital Printing” suggests, we use a digital printing press to bring your designs and artwork to life. You might be wondering exactly how toner based digital printing works. We sat down with our Founder and CTO Mitch earlier this week to discuss how your files are processed and turned into physical prints on our Xerox iGen 4 Digital Press.

Xerox iGen4

Xerox iGen4

Taking out a lot of the of the technical lingo leaves us with these 5 basic steps:

  1. After you prepare your digital image file and upload it through the CatPrint website, the image file is converted into a raster graphics image. Whether the image file is a photo, a scanned piece of art, digital art, or a wedding invitation, all of the image files go through this conversion process known as “Raster Image Processing” or RIPing for short.
  2. RIPing creates a bitmap which assigns X/Y coordinates to each color and blank space (like on a graph). This bitmap is then used to guide a laser within the digital printer to erase the charges from a positively charged photoreceptor belt. The laser will only erase charges on the photoreceptor belt wherever there is supposed to be blank “unprinted” space.
  3. After the positive charges are removed, toner, which is negatively charged, is attracted to the remaining positive charges and the image is built onto the photoreceptor.
  4. The toner filled photoreceptor is then rolled over the paper and applied.
  5. After the toner is applied to the sheet, it is fused to the paper by hot “fuser rolls” which are around 400 degrees Fahrenheit!

These steps allow all 4 colors (CMYK) to be applied to the paper in one pass through the printer, unlike other printing options as inkjet printing. This whole digital imaging process happens in a matter of seconds, as the iGen4 allows us to print up to 400 5×7 wedding invitations per minute.