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Eight Reasons that Printing Better Halftones Will Improve Your Bottom Line

(August 2014) posted on Wed Sep 10, 2014

Understand the cost savings and higher profitability that comes from knowing how to print halftones well.

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By Thomas Trimingham

1. Better art approval will reduce your rejects.
Typically, printers will send clients a digital mock-up of what the printed garment will look like. Any halftone areas in the image will appear solid or very smooth due to the software and the high resolution of the monitor, so what the client sees on screen won’t be representative of the final product. The more jobs you print in a day, the more money you’ll save by standardizing the way halftones are handled in your art-approval process.

You can give the client a far clearer idea of what the design will look like on the garment using a simple script in your graphic-design software to simulate halftones. Obviously, your digital proof won’t be an exact replica, but using a real halftone pattern of approximately the same size as the dots in the production artwork can avoid a big issue later. You’ll avoid any surprises when the client sees the final shirts and wasn’t expecting the halftones to be noticeable or to affect the edges of the designs they supplied.

This extra step will also improve the sales dialog with your clients and help you suggest possible changes to the art that will make the design look better. You’ll also be able to build a higher level of trust in your online communications with your clients if you’re able to show them a more realistic representation of how a design will look on the printed shirt.

Note that this technique isn’t recommended for four-color process or simulated process jobs. Digital proofs can’t reliably predict complicated ink interactions and blends.

2. You’ll get big savings by reviewing film positives.
It all begins with the artwork. The halftone dots you print cannot be any better than the ones you start with on your positives. The first step to improving the quality of your printed halftones is to check the output from the computer that produces the positives. (Remember that for shops using computer-to-screen systems, the “positive” is the ink or wax that has been sprayed onto the emulsion-coated screen, and not a separate sheet of film, vellum, or other transparent material that is imaged separately and then placed on the screen during exposure to create the stencil.)


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