Digital business cards are the modern way to make people aware of who you are and what services and products you offer. Modern digital presses are fast, adaptable and compact, alleviating all the labour of traditional off-set methods. This, plus the increasingly sophisticated presses and software available, means digital business cards have superseded their traditionally produced cousins. Before the arrival of digital technology, business cards were extremely limited in scope. Monochrome or two-colour cards were the order of the day, with simple spot-colour techniques on off-set, sheet-fed presses. More complex colour schemes could be achieved, but only by involved screen-printing methods and time-consuming layering of inks. The results lacked definition, and colours were often misaligned. Modern software and glossy UV coatings improved the quality and look of the cards – but the underlying printing methods remained the same.
Digital printers, often called digital printing presses to differentiate from common-or-garden desktop printers, have revolutionised small-batch, on-demand printing. Digital business cards are printed directly from a digital image, sent to a high-volume ink or laser-jet printer. Unlike traditionally printed cards, no printing plates are required. This results in a fast turnaround time and cheaper running costs – savings which can be passed on to the customer.
Digital business cards also have the advantage of being more durable than traditional cards – a plus point if you want your customers to remember you! The inks don’t have to permeate the substrate as with the offsetting method; instead, toner or pigment are baked directly onto the card surface using UV heat or another curing method, often incorporating a fuser fluid for extra adhesion. UV or aqueous top coats may also be applied to overcome the problem of offsetting – where ink that is still wet transfers to the next card along, a common problem with fast-output printers. UV coatings are glossier than aqueous ones, but aqueous coats stand up to more wear-and-tear. However, there are other ways to make your digital business cards last longer. During the curing process, they can be laminated to make them thicker and more durable – you can even have cards printed onto metal or plastic. If you want a more traditional finish, it’s worth remembering that modern digital printing presses are not limited by the weight or thickness of the card stock, as older copiers were. Today, business cards can be printed on to 14 point and 100-lb stock with ease.
While digital printing is more expensive per page than traditional off-set printing, it avoids all the technical steps involved in typesetting and making printing plates, more than outweighing the initial extra cost. The savings are even greater if you consider what else can be achieved. Because digital business cards are printed from data kept on file, you can vary the image or text on individual batches of cards, customising your order at no, or little extra cost. Field reps working for the same company can each have cards embossed with their personal contact details and even their photographs, giving their sales performances a polished, professional edge.