Many a marketers’ famous last words.
If you are really lucky and the designer is experienced and understands the print process and it’s a small change and the printer double checks everything and this and that, it could turn out ok.
But in reality it’s something that you don’t want to risk. Even though there are increasing number of brand representatives crowding Drupa stalls, the fact is most of them don’t understand much about print technology and its nuances.
So what can the brand do to make sure the print comes out right?
Here is a checklist of things to take care of before sending to print.
1. Ensure that ONLY the Approved Artwork is shared:
a. The text that ends up on the artwork should be verified by marketing, legal, packaging, product development, regulatory and any other department that has a say in the matter. Proof reading and spell checking is a must. Ensure that the approved version of the file is approved by the concerned departments.
b. In some companies, there is a final approver (typically Marketing / CQA), who gives his / her feedback to the designer, get the revised version, approve this version and this goes to the printer. The flipside of this approach is that the approved version is technically not approved by the other departments and so is a perfect recipe for disaster.
2. Send the correct Version:
a. Make sure you are sending the right version of artwork file to print. With the help of a good artwork management software which usually includes a robust version control system, this is easily achieved.
b. In case your printer needs associated files (like specification, Source Files, Fonts, etc.), it is best that all the files are shared in one link.
3. Preflight the PDF file
Since we are dealing with PDF Files, creating a bad PDF is easy. That’s why you need to ensure the quality of your PDF by running a set of checks. This checking is called pre‑fighting. It is a technical analysis of the file which checks all the aspects of the content including color, fonts, images, etc. Below are a set of mandatory pre-flight checks to be done before sending the artwork to print
a. Bleed Zones
b. Colors Used
c. Fonts and Outlines
d. Embedded Image Resolutions
e. Layers Used
f. Ink Coverage
g. Text Size
h. Line Thickness
There are specialized pre-flight tools which will check the artwork and report potential issues. A good Artwork Management System will also do these pre-flight checks as part of the proofing step.
4. Fingerprint the Press
Sometimes even after the PDF is pre-flighted and you have taken care of all the other aspects of the content, the print output may not turn out right. The most common complaint is color inconsistency. Fingerprinting can take some of the uncertainties in the print process for a particular press. Fingerprinting is a very reliable process in Print Colour Management for achieving consistent print results in different printing processes and printing works. The goal of fingerprinting is to document the press conditions and the resulting print quality across the sheet/web under stable and repeatable conditions. Fingerprinting helps to validate that the settings used on press and in prepress will give the desired end result. It verifies that standards can be met using actual material, press speed, ink, etc. Fingerprinting is part of what’s called Print Management and is typically outsourced to specialists in pre-press companies who work closely with the printers and make sure that your printed artwork is as close to the digital copy as possible.
Above all keeping the printer in the loop from the early stages of design is probably the most important thing that will reduce the anxiety and frustrations when the artwork is sent to print.
In the next article we will dive deeper into some of the Pre-Flight checks and how they help the print process.
Image Credits: Adobe.