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As the computer gained popularity in society, so did graphic design. The ability to design unique graphics on computers has become one of the most sought out skills in today’s job market. More and more people are using their computers to create unique umbrella designs. Still, computer generated designs were still printed on umbrellas using the screening process until the rise of digital printing. The digital process is the new era of umbrella printing, allowing a printer to print designs from a computer directly onto an umbrella. Digital printing is the 21st-century alternative to screen printing.
Printing with screens is still widely used by umbrella printing companies and is still a quality process, but the digital process has quickly become the chief alternative for small runs. The set up for digital is much easier and cost effective. In the screening process, one has to set up a screen for each color the design takes, which means that the more complex the design is the more screens the printer is going to need. This increases the manual labor which is going to increase the cost. When a screen printer prices their umbrellas, they always charge more for more colors. With digital umbrellas, there are unlimited colors and no screens, just one flat fee per umbrella. Instead of setting up all the screens beforehand, the only setup digital requires is a pre-treatment of the umbrella, which gives the umbrella a solid base and prevents the digitally printed ink from smearing. This is much less time consuming the pre-printing process.
Digital printing offers much more control during the printing process than screen printing. Digital printing gives a printer the option of auto-matching ink. Instead of mixing inks, the screen printing way, ink matching allows the digital printer to print any color from the original design directly onto the umbrella. The digital ink process makes it easier to print multi-colored designs digitally on umbrellas.
For a large order of umbrellas, screen printing is still going to be the main option most umbrella printers choose. The only downside of digital printing is the manufacturer needs multiple printers in order to speed up the printing process. Screen printing can print more umbrellas at a time, making them ideal for large orders. This is the main reason why digital printing hasn’t completely taken over the market. Someday most umbrella printers may only do digital printing if printers become large enough and are able to handle bigger orders. Until then screen printing and digital printing will continue to work together. It will be up to the printer to decide what process is more efficient for each individual order.
However, digital printing is making a stride. A decade ago digital printers were rare, now most umbrella companies have a digital printer and use it for all single umbrella orders.
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