A CDE Definition
print on demand
The ability to print a pamphlet, manual or book in small quantities as requested, even just one at a time. The printing is done from the computer rather than the traditional offset printing process. Print on demand is environmentally sound because hundreds of thousands of unsold, new books are destroyed annually. In addition, publishers no longer need to maintain a large physical inventory of titles, which translates into huge cost savings.
Print on demand allows every book ever published to be available in the future, and it allows new authors to be published more easily. It also prevents wonderful books from ever going out-of-print due to low demand. Using on-demand equipment, a complete, finished hardcover book can be created from scratch in less than 20 minutes. See digital printing.
All printed output from a computer is technically digital. However, the term refers more to printing finished pages for brochures, journals and booklets from the computer rather than using an offset printing press and commercial printer. Although digital printer systems do not compete with high-speed newspaper and magazine presses, it is expected that these "analog" monsters will become all digital in time.
Mechanical Steps Are Eliminated
Digital printing eliminates numerous mechanical steps in the conventional printing process, including making films, color proofs, manually stripping the pieces together and making plates. Instead of cutting and folding printed "signatures" to put the pages in order, software sorts them in memory and prints them in the correct sequence.
Ready for Binding
After printing, the output goes directly to next-stage equipment that can staple, 3-hole punch or bind the paper and even turn it into postmarked packages for the mailroom. Millions of invoices, documents and booklets are printed on large digital printer assembly lines every day. See offset press and DI press.
Digital Printing Plant
The Output Factory
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