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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

The benefits of an accurate and consistent proofing device cannot be overstated. But when the proofing system is the same machine that will be used for full-scale production, the financial drag of proofing far outweighs the benefits.

A digital printing system dedicated to proofing, on the other hand, gives you the ability to quickly evaluate a digital file, make precise color adjustments, and go to press without tying up an expensive screen-printing machine or large-format inkjet printer. When properly configured and calibrated to your production printing equipment, a digital proofing system can accurately replicate the tone and color of an image as it will appear when printed on any machine in your shop.

To survive in the competitive world of commercial printing, graphics providers need to maximize productivity, and this can only be accomplished when printing equipment is used solely for printing. As you'll discover, digital proofing doesn't just free your presses to do what they do best, but it also brings predictability and consistency to the images they generate.

Why digital proofing?

You may be wondering why I've limited this topic to digital proofing and excluded analog proofing. Analog proofs are inferior to digital proofs for three primary reasons: They are expensive, require the use of films and chemicals, and are not as versatile as digital proofs.

A 20 x 24-in. digital proof normally is invoiced at about $30, but an analog proof of the same size can range in price from $100-200. Costly consumables, such as films and chemicals, are losing favor thanks to advances in direct-to-plate, direct-to-screen, and direct-to-press (an all-digital workflow) technologies. Finally, a digital proof is more versatile. This concept is the least understood, so let's take a look at a real-world example.

Phil Garcia, of S2K Graphics in Chatsworth, CA, has several printing devices: screen presses, large-format digital printers, and even equipment for continuous-tone digital imaging. He uses nothing but digital inkjet proofing and is considered one of the most accurate printers in the region. S2K matches color for some the nation's most demanding clients. As Garcia puts it, "Digital proofing is the only effective and economic method of ensuring accurate color reproduction within a wide range of printing technologies."


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