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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

I have seen some software that will only use four of the typical eight color inkset available when dot-simulation software is used. This is a very bad situation. For example, if you have two cyan shades (light cyan and dark cyan), one is low density and is a pure cyan color; the other cyan is high density and is dark blue because of a strong magenta contamination. If your dot-simulation software only uses four colors, it may default to the higher density cyan. In that case, your blues can be of the correct dot percentage, but magenta contamination will make them appear purple. No amount of sophisticated color-management software can take out the magenta contaminant in the dark cyan ink. You also need the light cyan to have a full color gamut. Therefore, be sure the dot-simulation software uses all the colors available when simulating a dot.

Gloss level is another point of acceptance. This is mostly controlled through selection of media, but be aware that a shiny proof may be challenging to match in production environments. I have been exposed to salespeople who say the client is buying the proof, not the print. They want a very glossy proof even though their prints will be semi-glossy or even relatively flat in color. I do not accept this position. I believe a client should see a simulation as close to the final product as possible. If the sales staff insists on a high-gloss proof, you will need to be sure the proofing device has the capability of producing high-gloss digital proofs or consider outsourcing the proofing requirements.

The proof is in the print

A predictable and accurate proof allows prepress to create files the same way every time no matter what production printing device ultimately handles the job. As long as the print device is predictable, the rest is just color management. Prepress won't have to touch the color when a job gets moved or split between two different presses or even dissimilar imaging equipment. Employees should have confidence that as long as they have proofed the color and approved the color on an accurate digital proofing device, they should expect to see the same color when the job prints.

Whether in screen printing, off-set, flexo, or digital printing, having access to an accurate and consistent digital proofing device is a powerful financial benefit. When you have a device dedicated to proofing, you will be able to quickly and accurately evaluate a digital file and make accurate color adjustments off press. Then, when the production machine opens up, you will go to press without tying up an expensive printing machine while you make last minute adjustments. Remember, printing devices are for printing, not proofing.

About the author

Mike Ruff is chief technology officer of Nazdar Consulting Service, Shawnee, KS. During his more than 35 years in the graphic-arts industry, he has worked in the signmaking and screen-printing fields as both a manager and business owner. Ruff frequently lectures at trade shows, conducts training classes for the Screen Printing Technical Foundation, and authors articles for industry journals. He is a member of the Academy of Screen Printing Technology.


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