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Getting Dedicated to Digital Proofing

(July 2006) posted on Tue Jul 11, 2006

Discover how a dedicated digital proofing system can accurately represent your production prints and save you money at the same time.

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By Mike Ruff

One important advantage of a digital proof is that it can simulate more color-target configurations than an analog proof. A target configuration is three things: a substrate or media color, an ink color (density and hue), and a percentage of defined colors (dot percentage).

Most analog proofs are limited to the media or substrates indigenous to the proofing device, and many of these materials limit the color densities delivered by the proofing device. Additionally, most analog proofs are limited to set dot gains. To change dot percentage, their film output must be manipulated and adjusted.

Now, let's consider the common digital proofing device. The media or substrate is selectable, the ink color is managed in color-management software, and the tonal percentages are also adjusted in color-management software specifically aiming at a source or target profile.

The common misconception that digital proofing is less accurate or a step down in quality from film is the result of a lack of education among the printing public. The digital proof can simulate background colors, ink hues, and dot-percentage values required to match a target as long as the target does not have a larger color gamut than the proof. Let me assure you the digital proof that is properly calibrated and color managed is actually one of the most versatile tools in the color-management workflow.

Bill Blechta, of Sarasota, FL-based Sun Screenprinting, Inc., is challenged every day to match digital imaging to screen printing—and do it quickly. Sun Screenprinting uses a professional ink-jet proofing system to control color for both screen printing (single-color presses) and digital production devices.

"I believe it is very important and cost effective for us to have an accurate digital proofing device in house at a company like Sun," Blechta says. "We produce all of our screen-printed graphics using single-color presses, and a device like this gives us, and more importantly, our valued clients, the confidence that when we get to the last color, the product will be correct. On the digital side, this gives us the ability to complement our screen-printing capabilities with the various digital devices we have in house, and at the end of the day, we know that the screen-printed and digitally produced items we manufacture at Sun will be consistent."


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