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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

Because of the low cost, chemical-free process, and the flexibility of the digital proof, the move from analog proofing is almost complete across the industry. Analog proofing came into existence in the mid 1970s, while digital proofing first arrived in the mid 1990s. Since then, digital proofing has claimed more than 60% of the proofing market. Today, analog proofing only represents about 10% of the proofing market and is expected to continue its decline.

Accurate and calibrated digital proofs

Productivity in print production is based on one thing: predictability. You can't be profitable without predictability. Surprises at the end of the press are expensive. Rick Auterson, the color-management expert at Indianapolis, IN-based Pratt Corp., says, "Digital printing has moved from being a concept proof (composition) to a contract proof (composition and color). Customer don't like surprises. Your press may have a limited gamut, but as long as the print matches the proof, that's a quality print."

I agree with Rick. I like surprises as well as anyone. I like surprises on my birthday, anniversary, and other special events. However, the last place I want a surprise is on press. Surprises shut down production. Considering the cost of printing equipment today, those machines need to be printing and not standing idle while you tweak around with color. Most printers have no idea what color surprises cost them. This fact has been borne out in impact studies I've conducted for printing companies all over North America.

What challenges printers the most? The number one answer I hear when conducting these studies is time. They say their clients give jobs to competitors when they don't have time to meet the delivery. They say the estimators put a certain amount of time on jobs but they can't seem to hit the time estimates. They say if they had more time, they could be more accurate in their printing processes. It is obvious that the biggest challenge really is time.

The common solution for this time shortage is to buy a second printing device. I say that's like a farmer losing a dollar on each watermelon he sells, and his solution is to get a bigger truck. Efficiency is the answer—not more equipment.


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